What’s common between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, historian Ramachandra Guha and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen' Their LSE connection, of course. All these luminaries have studied or taught at the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) at some time or the other. And LSE’s Indian connection continues till today. At present, 305 students of Indian nationality are studying in the institute from which over 2,500 Indian students have graduated in the last 100 years.
Apart from an excellent faculty, the institute also offers a multi-cultural environment and tremendous industry exposure. “I would encourage Indian students to study at LSE not just because of its academic excellence but also because of the way the exposure gained here helps you to become an interesting and intelligent person,” says Nupur Gupta, a final year student of BSc economics.
LSE has students from 140 countries. Students say that having classmates from diverse backgrounds teaches them to look at issues from different perspectives. “The eclectic mix of students in my class, ranging in age from 25 to 50, has contributed greatly to my personal development,” asserts Shilpa Bhatnagar, a student of MSc city design and social sciences.
LSE is Europe’s premier institution for the study of anthropology, economics, international relations, operational research, political science, sociology and social policy. The school is also known for its unique programmes. For instance, according to Bhatnagar, the postgraduate course in city design and social sciences is the only programme that combines the study of sociology, architecture and design.
As the institute is situated in the heart of London, LSE students get to interact with the best companies in the world. Law student Ravi Mittal says that he has attended four career fairs, 11 company presentations and more than eight career events in the two-and-a-half months that he has been there. “Career services at LSE are strong and we have several tie-ups with potential employers.”
“We find that Indian students are largely interested in quantitative and business-related subjects,” says Will Breare-Hall, LSE’s international student recruiter, who was in India recently. So, while the most sought-after courses for postgraduate students of Indian nationality are MSc analysis, design and management of information systems, MSc economics and MSc international employment relations and human resource management, undergraduate students largely prefer the BSc management course.
There is fierce competition to gain entry to this prestigious institute. Academic standards are very high and only the brightest and the best can make it. To apply for a postgraduate programme in LSE you need to graduate with more than 60 per cent, or have a grade point above 5.0 on a 7.0 scale. For the undergraduate programmes, an Indian student requires either ‘A’ levels, International Baccalaureate grades or a year of undergraduate study in India. Or, like final year economics student Herschel Pant, you can enrol for the external study programmes offered in India by LSE and the University of London and get direct admission to the second year in LSE. Representatives from the institute make regular visits to India for individual student counselling sessions. The best time to apply is between November and December. Along with the academic background, the deciding factors for student recruitment are the statement of purpose and extra-curricular activities.
However, just because the academic standards are high, it does not mean that the environment at LSE is too competitive for comfort. In fact, students rave about the relaxed atmosphere that allows them the independence to take their own decisions. Indian students, of course, have several societies and forums that organise various events throughout the year, making campus life as good as the academic experience.