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Opportunities for students in the UK

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It’s the time of the year when the college admission process is already knocking on the door of the students who are graduating from school next year.

PARVATHY CHOCKALINGAM

 Ironically for these students in grade 12, currently, the classes are online, or their schools are following the hybrid model for teaching. The fear and peer pressure for college admissions have started to haunt the students and their parents. The race to send children outside the country is back, making a beeline outside the preparatory centres for filing tedious college applications, mainly in the UK, The US, New Zealand and Australia.  

Here SUBURB gives you a bird’s-eye view and portals to assist you in handling queries for colleges in the UK and the life of students there.  

It was dramatic repatriation for us, amidst the pandemic in 2020, from DEL to LHR on a “Vande-Bharat” flight. Among many reasons for such a rushed return to the UK, the chief one was UK’s higher education for our children. Like me, come this time every year, many Indian or Indian-origin parents hope to send their teenagers to the UK Universities. In the context of Brexit, it looks like the UK Universities also need more Indian students to compensate for the fall in their “international-fee paying” student numbers.

The UK, as a destination, is generally very appealing for Indian teenagers when they fly the nest. According to the May 2021 wave of a YouGov tracker poll done biannually(https://yougov.co.uk/topics/travel/trackers/do-immigrants-from-india-make-a-positive-or-negative-contribution-to-life-in-britain-today), many of the participating UK adults think that Indian immigrants aged between 18 and 24 positively contribute to life in Britain today.

According to the MEA (Ministry of External Affairs), 261,406 Indian students studied abroad in 2020. … Currently, MAE reports that 71,769 students have moved overseas for study purposes between now and February 28th, 2021

Indeed, this is a resounding preference for Indian immigrant students. Beyond this welcome, when homesick, our children can “feel at home” at South-Asian community settlements like Southall, Smethwick, Leicester, East Ham, Leeds, and Manchester. Adding to the Indian restaurants catering to various Indian regional palates, there are ghost kitchens that can deliver “home-cooked” hot Desi food (https://tiffinplanet.co.uk/;  https://solihulldabbawala.com/). In general, it is heartening to see that vegetarian or vegan food is widely available across the country, with various choices available near these settlements.

The Universities in the UK are word-class, with 17 of them appearing in the top 100, according to the QS World University 2022 rankings (https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/world-university-rankings/2022). More than 250 Nobel Laureates have graduated from UK Universities in the last 120 years. And a few Nobel Laureates are among the current faculty at some of these Universities. The student-to-tutor ratio at some of these Universities is about 3-to-1, allowing very personalised teaching suited to the students’ needs.

Owing to the Graduate Immigration Route, Indian students now prefer to pursue higher education in the United Kingdom. Students graduating from UK institutions will be eligible to work in the UK for up to two years under this new arrangement.

Almost all Universities boast of guaranteed placement or higher education for every student. To top it all, Universities offer special combined courses run together by two departments; for example, under computer science, there are courses called Maths & Computer Science, Computer Science & Philosophy, Computing & Artificial Intelligence, and Software Engineering (https://www.ucas.com/). Many Universities offer a Master’s option during the Graduate study, allowing the students to graduate with a Master’s degree in four years. The crowning glory is that most universities have a start-up ecosystem to monetise students’ innovative ideas.

Real back-breaking work starts for the parents once the UK has been chosen to be the preferred destination for the youngster. Financing a costlier education is indeed a heavier burden, with the expenses certainly above GBP 120000 (international fees, hostel/house rent, and other living expenses) for a three-year course, and this figure fluctuates widely depending on the chosen University and the rental cost in a given city. The University application process is usually quite long, with applications due in October of the previous year for entry in the coming September. And some Elite Universities ask the students to appear in entrance tests and for interviews. For specific answers, there are helpful chat rooms (https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/).

With the service industry teetering in the UK due to the pandemic and Brexit, this is an excellent opportunity for Indian students to study first and then work in the UK. However, to avoid disappointment, it is better to start discussions within the family very early to start necessary application processes and financial preparations in advance. 

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