University Of Essex Vice-Chancellor Discusses Strengthening Educational Ties Between UK And India

Professor Anthony Forster, the Vice-Chancellor at the University of Essex, sheds light on the pivotal role of education in geopolitics and how it influences international relations.

Prof Forster, in this interview with BW Education, has discussed the strengthening educational ties between the UK and India, scholarships for Indian students, emerging career opportunities, and the University of Essex's strategic growth partnership in India. Moreover, he highlighted the significance of partnerships with academic institutions and corporates in India and looks forward to celebrating the university's 60th anniversary with a special graduation event in 2024.

Can you elaborate on the role of education in geopolitics and how it influences international relations?

India has made economic growth a strategic priority to support its position as one of the world’s major emerging economies. I am really happy to be once again visiting India to see how the University of Essex can support India’s focus on offering world-class higher education opportunities and promoting high-quality research.

Building relationships between Essex and Indian partners supports the strategic vision set down in the 2030 roadmap established in 2021 between the UK and India which committed both countries to increasing collaboration around many areas including education.

It is clear that multidisciplinary research and innovation in education will help India as it continues to develop a vibrant knowledge hub.

Indian students value the international education we provide at Essex and the global network of contacts they develop by being part of our community of more than 140 nationalities.

This also gives our graduates a unique international perspective on issues and their future careers.

The strengthening of educational ties between the UK and India has been a key focus. Could you share some insights into how these ties are being fortified, and what benefits they bring to both nations?

My visit to India is all about reinforcing our links with partners, connecting with our alumni community, developing research collaborations, and highlighting the study opportunities available to Indian students.

We’ve worked hard to understand the needs of Indian students including sending a team of staff to India earlier in the year to visit universities and hear from senior leaders while also offering more support students before they start their studies through our preparation programmes.

Many Indian students choose to benefit from the UK’s Graduate Visa which allows Indian students to stay in the UK to work or look for employment for two years after their undergraduate studies or for three years following a PhD.

We also offer extensive work experience opportunities to allow Indian students to develop their employability skills for the future with placements available on many courses.

The University of Essex has embarked on a strategic growth partnership in India. Can you tell us more about this initiative and its objectives?

Over the past 60 years, we have developed strong links with India including a very strong alumni network. As we begin our 60th-anniversary celebrations, we are building on these connections and seeing increasing interest in our courses – with incredible growth in demand for our data science courses in particular. My visit is focused on meeting partners face-to-face to understand their needs and build partnerships which deliver for both sides.

Could you provide information about the growing partnerships between the University of Essex and academic institutions as well as corporates in India?

Through visits of our leading academics and our in-country regional offices in New Delhi and Kochi, we’ve successfully built strong partnerships in India, particularly in the National Capital Region with prestigious institutions such as Jindal Global University, Amity University, and Bennett University in North India. We are very proud to have university partners such as VIT Vellore Institute of Technology, Christ University, and St. Joseph's University. We have also developed strong Essex alumni networks in these locations and take great pride in the way we support our graduates in India.

Building on this, we are now developing further research and education partnerships in West India - Maharashtra and Gujarat, South India - Telangana, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka states, and West Bengal - Kolkata.

“In Europe, we’ve seen the impact of building networks through Young Universities for the Future of Europe and the Young European Research Universities Network for our staff, students, and graduates.”

Scholarships and current education trends are essential aspects of higher education. Can you shed light on the scholarships available at the University of Essex and the current trends in higher education?

We have an extensive range of scholarships for talented Indian students. Our South Asia Regional Scholarship offers £4,000 to undergraduate students from India and our Academic Excellence International Masters Scholarship scheme offers £4,000 tuition fee discounts to high achieving masters students from India. We also recruiting talented sportspeople from around the world through our generous Performance Sports scholarships and bursaries, with up to a 100% tuition fee discount and other exclusive benefits included for talented athletes playing at national, regional, or international level.

New-age career opportunities are emerging for students in the UK. Could you share some examples of these opportunities and how the University of Essex is preparing students for them?

Artificial intelligence, data science, and computer science are at the forefront of emerging sectors and they are among our strengths at the University of Essex.

We now offer a whole host of support and development opportunities to meet student expectations and career aspirations.

We have in-depth advice and support for our international students plus a year-long programme of skills development, industry networking, and workshops.

Our Essex Start-ups team also supports entrepreneurs to develop their own business ideas.

Our range of two-year Masters degrees including a professional work placement in the second year will give our students an advantage in their future careers.

The global job market is looking for graduates who can adapt so we offer our Indian students the chance to learn valuable new skills alongside their degree at no extra cost. This includes our incredibly popular Languages for All and Data for All programmes.

Many Indian students put their skills into action immediately through a Graduate Visa in the UK and we also see Indian graduates taking advantage of Essex being the number one university for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships – which link businesses with talented researchers. Several Indian graduates have progressed onto research associate roles as part of KTPs – using the cutting-edge expertise they developed at Essex into the development of products and services.

Are there any upcoming collaborations or initiatives in India that you'd like to highlight and share with our audience?

We are celebrating our 60th anniversary and a key event is our first graduation in India in February 2024. This gives us a chance to celebrate our amazing alumni community and the links we’ve developed with partners in India. I am hoping we can bring people together for an incredible event that will celebrate all the energy and ambition behind our growing links with India which are continuing to gather momentum.

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