Good news may just be round the corner for those who want to have a vocational qualification from abroad. According to the British Council of Scotland, Scottish colleges will soon offer diploma programmes to Indian students. “We are here so that people in India can know more about educational institutes in Scotland and the advantages offered by the Scottish educational system,” says Roy Cross, director of British Council of Scotland.
The 43 colleges in Scotland offer several kinds of programmes, ranging from access and foundation programmes and higher national certificates and diplomas to degrees and pre-masters courses. “The first two years of a higher national diploma are equivalent to the first two years of a university degree course,” explains Graham Keith, director of Scotland’s Colleges International.
But why should a student opt for a diploma or a certificate instead of a degree' “Because the courses that we offer are cheaper and professional,” says Mark Cullens, assistant principal, Adam Smith College at Glenrothes. “Most Indian students are obsessed with getting a degree but a HND (higher national diploma) is enough to excel in the workplace,” he says.
If statistics is anything to go by, the number of Indian students who are willing to study abroad for a higher national certificate or a higher national diploma seems impressive. “Currently, there are 1,000 Indian students studying in Scottish colleges and there has been a 50 per cent rise in Indian students in Scotland from last year,” says Marina Gandhi, head of Education UK, British Council-Eastern Region.
Some Scottish institutions are also entering into collaborations with Indian institutions. Edinburgh’s Telford College has a partnership with the Kazembe College of Dental Technology, Chandigarh. Students can study for a one-year certificate course in India and study two years in Scotland for a higher national diploma. “We are looking forward to collaborations in subjects like hospitality management, fashion design and television and radio operations,” says Julia Weddon, international manager, Telford College.
There are a wide variety of subjects on offer and some colleges also offer degree programmes. “We are interested in joint funding opportunities with Indian institutions and in establishing links in the fields of media and communication,” says Cathy Snedden, head of the department of creative industries at Forth Valley College.
Scotland is keen on encouraging foreign students to contribute to the economy. The government’s Fresh Talent Scheme seeks to encourage foreigners to work for two years in Scotland after completion of studies without having to got through the rigours of trying to obtain a work permit. “One has to apply for the scheme after completion of one’s course. One need not apply from within the UK or have a job at the time of application,” explains Roy Cross. Those who have graduated with a higher national diploma from a Scottish educational institution are eligible to apply. There are other schemes to help students keen on working in Scotland such as the highly skilled migrant programme and the Innovators Scheme that is designed to help anyone who aims to start their own business.
So those of you who are fascinated by the music of the bagpipes, the lochs, the moors and the fens, think about taking up a course in the northern frontier of the British Isles.