‘Part­ner­ships in ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion hold tremen­dous po­ten­tial’

The for­eign ed­u­ca­tion bill may open pos­si­bil­i­ties, says a Welsh min­is­ter

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - HT Education - - Front Page - Van­dana Ram­nani

In a free­wheel­ing in­ter­view with HT Ed­u­ca­tion, min­is­ter for ed­u­ca­tion and skills in the Welsh government, Leighton An­drews, spoke about is­sues such as the with­drawal of the post-work visa op­tions for stu­dents, fu­ture plans of Welsh univer­si­ties. Ex­cerpts How have tough visa rules and with­drawal of the post-work visa op­tion im­pacted the num­ber of In­dian stu­dents plan­ning to pur­sue their higher stud­ies in the UK, es­pe­cially Wales. What cor­rec­tive mea­sures/alternative op­tions have been worked out to check the like­li­hood of the num­bers go­ing down? While im­mi­gra­tion is not a de­volved mat­ter, the Welsh government is aware of the po­ten­tial im­pact of the UK government’s im­mi­gra­tion pol­icy on the abil­ity of Welsh higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions to at­tract in­ter­na­tional stu­dents. The in­tro- duc­tion of tighter con­trols is aimed at iden­ti­fy­ing bo­gus in­sti­tu­tions and stu­dents and this is wel­comed by me and the higher ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor.

I am con­cerned that the fur­ther tight­en­ing of the stu­dent visa process may de­crease the at­trac­tive­ness of the UK, and hence Wales, as a des­ti­na­tion of choice for overseas stu­dents. Sta­tis­ti­cal data from the Higher Ed­u­ca­tion Sta­tis­ti­cal Agency be­tween 2007/08 and 2010/11 shows a year on year in­crease in stu­dents from In­dia (na­tion­al­ity not eth­nic­ity) study­ing in Welsh higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions. In the event of the for­eign univer­si­ties bill be­ing passed by the In­dian par­lia­ment, will univer­si­ties in Wales set up cam­puses in In­dia or fo­cus on strength­en­ing part­ner­ships with In­dian in­sti­tutes? Although Welsh higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tutes (HEI) have lit­tle tra­di­tion of es­tab­lish­ing cam­puses in other coun­tries, (Ban­gor has plans cur­rently in China), the pass­ing of this leg­is­la­tion may open up new op­por­tu­ni­ties abroad.

There are many fac­tors that will need to be con­sid­ered be­fore univer­si­ties in Wales make such a de­ci­sion. How­ever, it is much more likely that Welsh HEIs will seek to build new or strengthen ex­ist­ing part­ner­ships with the In­dian government or par­tic­u­lar In­dian univer­si­ties (more usu­ally re­ferred to as ‘in­sti­tutes’ there).

The grow­ing num­ber of stu­dents in­ter­ested in en­ter­ing ter­tiary ed­u­ca­tion of­fers op­por­tu­ni­ties for UK in­sti­tu­tions to en­gage in long-term part­ner­ships with In­dian in­sti­tu­tions on many lev­els: re­search col­lab­o­ra­tion, ar­tic­u­la­tion ar­range­ments, and branch cam­puses ex­change pro­grammes to men­tion a few.


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