Scotland may be more famous for its bagpipes, tartan skirts, whisky and the Loch Ness monster but it is also the birthplace of the inventors of the telephone, the television, penicillin, Sherlock Holmes and Harry Potter. An education system that can nurture a range of talent from Alexander Graham Bell to J.L. Baird to Alexander Flemming to Arthur Conan Doyle to J.K. Rowling has to be an exceptional one. So, any of you considering a degree from aboard should give Scotland some serious thought.
Apart from a tradition of excellence in teaching and research, Scotland also has a comparatively flexible education system that offers students more choice. Its 20-odd higher education institutes offer 4,400 courses for around 2,15,000 students.
“Students have the liberty to choose their route to graduation. They could get admitted to a college and complete it in four years or they could take one small step at a time — earn a National Certificate, Higher National Certificate and Higher National Diploma (equivalent to graduation) and then move on to university or a job,” says Julia Weedon of Telford College, Edinburgh. She was in Calcutta recently for a seminar organised by the British Council to disseminate information on educational opportunities in Scotland.
Weedon went on to explain that a student of the Higher National Diploma (HND) programme has the option of completing his or her graduation programme in six years, instead of the regular four. “This is good for students with limited funds. After completing two years of education, a student has the option of taking a couple of years off to work, save money and then get back to studies once again. The Scottish government gives international students a work visa for two years — either after completion of their course or during a break as in the case of HND students,” explains Michelle Stewart from the University of Strathclyde. Students too find the HND programme convenient.
“I really enjoyed my placement at Harvey Nichols and secured a job there,” says Ankush Raina, an HND hospitality management student from India. “I can now transfer ideas from my job and bring them to my course at Edinburgh’s Telford College and vice versa.”
Other than its flexible education system, what makes Scotland attractive to international students is lower fees, an effective learning culture and ample time to upgrade their International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score. “We give regular student support by providing weekly tutorials, internships and the opportunity to undertake research for institutions. To make classes effective, we prefer fewer students,” says Weedon. It takes a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 18 to get a master degree from a Scottish university. The criterion for admission is a first class degree from an Indian university and a good IELTS score. “During the first semester, there are module-based classes while in the second, students have to do research work,” explains Vivienne Baunfield of the University of Glasgow.
“Our fresh talent initiative gives foreign students a chance to stay and work in Scotland for two years. Graduates need to show the relevant documents and have at least £800 in their bank accounts to get a visa. This is a good option as it would give students an edge over their peers if they choose to go back to their country,” says Steven Szymoszowskyj, a representative of the Scottish government.
So if you have been wanting to study abroad but are worried about the cost factor, think Scotland. For, depending on the type of course, you can work part-time (20 hours a week) while studying and full-time during vacations. Also, depending on what you have studied, if you want to stay in the UK once you have graduated, you could switch to the post-study work category.
Ticket to fly
The Scottish government recently announced 50 scholarships for Indian students. The awards have been made available under Scotland’s Saltire Scholarships Scheme to postgraduate students in India. The scheme assists overseas students to undertake 12-month masters-level courses in Scotland.
The awards, worth Rs 1,43,000 each, are funded by the Scottish government and managed by the British Council, Scotland, in partnership with the higher education sector of that country.
Interested candidates may directly apply to an institution before June 12. For more information, log on to www.scotlandscholarship.com.
Points to ponder before you take the plunge
1) If you are planning to study in the UK, you must be accepted into a course of study by an organisation on the register of education and training providers
2)The course should be at a publicly-funded institution of further or higher education (a university), a genuine private education institution, or an independent school
3)You must be registered with the UK awarding body if you are studying externally to be able to pay for your course and support and accommodate yourself and any dependents without working or help from public funds
4)To enter the UK, you must pass a points-basd assessment and score at least 40 points — 30 for a visa letter from a licenced sponsor and 10 if you can show you have enough finances to cover your course fees and monthly living expenses for up to 12 months