Work, travel & study

Work, travel & study

Exchange Programme

Lesson Plan: The students spend their mornings in college and their afternoons at NGOs. Pic for representation only

Alarge contingent of students from 38 colleges in Britain has arrived to spend three weeks in India under the aegis of the UK India Education and Research Initiative Study India Programme (SIP).

The programme is designed by King’s College London in partnership with HR College, the University of Mumbai and the University of Birmingham in partnership with the University of Delhi. 100 British students will be completing the programme in Mumbai, while a further 100 will do the same in New Delhi.

The group includes an African girl, an Afghan young woman from Sweden, and a Czech student of international relations    and  French from the University of Birmingham, who hopes to work in India after she completes her Master’s. Where in India? I ask Zuzana Kudelova, who is resplendent in a pink churidhar kameez. Pat comes Zuzana’s reply, “Bangalore, because I have some very, very good friends there. Actually, it’s not just Bangaloreans that I like. Since arriving here, I’ve found Indians to be so friendly. I’m astonished by the tolerance!”

India as education hub

Simon Gammell, Director, British Council, West India describes the Study India Programme (SIP) as “a timely initiative which exhibits the growing belief in India as a major education hub in the UK, and demonstrates that study programmes that concentrate on Indian culture, society, and language, are becoming a vital new component in the education of British students.”

He reveals that as many as 30,000 Indians are currently studying in the UK, whereas less than 1,000 UK students are enrolled in India, and expresses the hope the imbalance would be redressed.

 “This exposure will be invaluable to them as they think through their own career choices. It will allow them to broaden their horizons beyond the shores of the UK. Specifically, it will enable students to gain experience of the  Indian  way of life, people, arts, politics, economy and language which may open up opportunities for further study in India, work and exchange,” he adds. He hopes the programme would foster stronger links between Indian and UK higher education.
Work and play

While in India, the students will work alongside their Indian counterparts, participating in workshops, visiting a range of local employers.  Interestingly, many of the students in the group are of Indian origin. “I’m really excited to be here and by the way, I helped Zuzana with the selection of her Indian outfit,” Harmit Singh says. Twenty-year-old Harmit is studying bio-medicine at King’s and wants to become a doctor. Born and bred in London, he has relatives in Delhi and Amritsar,whom he plans to visit after a short excursion to Ajanta and Ellora in Aurangabad.

The Study India Programme is flexible and students can draw up their own itinerary. Amran of Bangladeshi-Syrian parentage is keen on taking in the sights of Goa and Hampi.
 Mornings are spent attending classes at HR College and afternoons interning with NGOs. Harmit, for example, is interning with the National Association for the Blind (NAB).

“I never knew how blind people lived before this. At NAB, I saw how they play chess. I actually learnt their alphabet and numbers. It was an amazing experience,” he says.

‘Long wait was worth it’

How did the exchange programme come about? Dr Indu Shahani, Principal, HR College of Commerce & Economics, and Sheriff of Mumbai, recalled visiting the London School of Pharmacy, where she learnt from conversations with students that King’s College was among the best educational institutions in the UK. Keen on a tie-up, she had, on her return to Mumbai, sent several letters to King’s College over a period of three to four years before she got a response and that too, only after she was appointed Sheriff. Prof Keith Hoggart, Vice Principal, Arts & Sciences and External Relations, King’s College London explains, “As India is  one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies and a country with increasing global importance, it is exciting to be part of the exchange programme.”

UKIERI, funded both by the UK and Indian Governments and the private sector, is now over three years into a five-year programme. This initiative is achieving its objective of making India and the UK each other’s preferred education partner.

The 200-strong group has arrived on the heels of yet another student group which has just left after a month’s stay in India.

The previous batch was split up into three groups of 10 each in Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore on a month-long programme as part of the UK Prime Minister’s Global Fellowship Programme.