More and more Indian students have started to apply to UK universities for higher studies despite the ever-changing travel situation because of the pandemic. Ahead of the Study UK Virtual Fair, Debanjan Chakrabarti, Director, East and Northeast India, British Council, tells Edugraph why the UK remains a top destination for international students.
Edugraph: What is the current situation with regard to the pandemic and student applications for higher studies in the UK?
Debanjan Chakrabarti: No doubt it’s a complex scenario but the UK remains a very attractive destination for Indian students. Despite the pandemic, the student numbers from India have gone up massively. The UK is all about enabling internationalised high quality education and that has not changed deas far as India is concerned. According to recent data released by the UK Home Office, 56,093 visas were issued to Indian students by the UK between April 2020 and March 2021, a 13% rise over the previous year.
In terms of Indian students studying in the UK, they remain one of the largest international student communities on UK campuses. This, of course, doesn’t take away from the complexities of the situation on the ground, which varies for different regions of the UK. But the increasing numbers show the confidence that Indian students and their parents have in the UK education system.
What is the current process which has to be followed by Indian students to go to the UK?
DC: It’s a situation which is constantly changing. The UK is operating a ‘vaccination status system’ for international arrivals. The rules for travel from countries and territories not on the ‘red list’ will depend on your vaccination status.
The rules differ from one region of the UK to another. It is best to refer to the travel guidance on the GOV.UK website to get the most updated information.
Currently which are the popular universities and courses in the UK?
DC: According to the Higher Education Statistical Agency (HESA), the most popular courses for international students in the UK are Business and Administrative Studies, Engineering and Technology, Social Studies, subjects allied to Medicine, Creative Arts and Design, Biological Sciences, Law and Computer Science.
For Indian students, popular subjects at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels continue to be business and engineering but there is an increased interest in subjects like Social Sciences, Law, Architecture, Building and Planning. Indians are one of the largest groups of the UK’s international student community. Moreover, the visa issue rate for Indian students is 96%, which is well above the global average.
Any suggestions when it comes to choosing between scholarships and choosing the top schools?
DC: My advice would be to attend the fourth edition of the ‘Study UK Virtual Fair’ on December 4. Students can interact with several university representatives and gather insights on the study opportunities in the UK, including courses, universities and scholarship offers along with application processes and eligibility criteria. The Fair also provides information on visas, life in the UK, housing, as well as career prospects. Prospective students will be able to consult with representatives of 42 UK universities, including 12 prestigious Russell Group establishments. The Fair will also provide attendees an interface with UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) officers to clarify any doubts about the current process for obtaining a student visa.
What are the clear advantages for Indian students going to the UK compared to other countries?
DC: I think one of the biggest advantages is the graduate route, which allows most students to work at the appropriate level for 2 years ( and for 3 years for those completing a PhD). UK university graduates are deemed one of the most employable around the world. Apart from the world class learning, the network that one builds internationally is very robust, and the pastoral care (welfare and wellbeing) systems in place for international students in British universities is fantastic. One is taken care of very well, which is something my wife (Dr Debnita Chakravarti, senior academic) and I can vouch for personally, having experienced and benefitted from it ourselves earlier in our careers. I think it's fair to say that the world comes to study in the UK, and this gives students from India an unmatched international perspective.
UK universities offer an overwhelmingly welcoming and positive experience for all international students, be it culture, sports, music, theatre and so many other things. Beyond academics, there are just so many things for a student from India and all international students to do and immerse oneself in. So I think it’s a win-win from every perspective. And if we talk about academic excellence, four of the top 10 universities in the world are from the UK, according to the QS World University Rankings 2022. The UK education sector punches significantly above its weight when in comes to international education.