Post-study work visa helps increase employability of Indian students in UK, says Birmingham university VC

Professor Adam Tickell, vice-chancellor of the University of Birmingham, was in India recently and signed MoUs with IIT Madras, the governments of Karnataka and West Bengal and the ministry of railways. He spoke to The Times of India on a range of topics, including the growing interest among Indian students to study in the UK and the advantages of the post-study work visa, during his visit. Excerpts from the interview:
How many Indian students does the University of Birmingham have and do you see a big increase in the number this year?
A: We have 847 undergraduate and postgraduate students from India – we had 721 last year.
Overall, the number of Indian students choosing the UK for higher studies is increasing in a big way; from the perspective of your university what are the main reasons for this?
A: We give Indian students the opportunity to experience an intellectually stimulating academic life, working with some of the finest minds in the world. We are a research-led Russell Group university, so whether opting for undergraduate or postgraduate studies, students from India will meet academics at the top of their field. Employability is a big attraction for Indian students, and we have been named the most targeted university by the UK’s top 100 graduate employers, according to the Graduate Market in 2021 report. We provide a range of prestigious scholarships, some dedicated only to students from Indian subcontinent, to reward outstanding achievement and to help ensure that fears about finance do not constrain prospective students. Finally, we have one of the best campuses in the UK and have invested significantly in new facilities, such as our state-of-the-art library and new hi-tech teaching facilities.
What are some of the subjects that are a big draw for Indian students to your university?
A: The university’s relationship with India dates to 1909 when our first cohort of Indian students arrived in Birmingham to study for degrees in mining and commerce. Current popular subjects include computer science, AI and machine learning, cyber security, data science, electrical and computer engineering, law, international relations, MBA, accounting & finance, advance engineering management, exercise and sport (football), financial management, health care policy, international business, management, marketing, and molecular biotechnology.
Do you see an increase in the number of Indian students choosing the UK for undergraduate education?
A: We are seeing a year-on-year increase in the numbers of Indian students but are keen to attract more. For this, we are expanding our Delhi-based India office, which will give us the opportunity to improve our in-country recruitment experience and attract more students to study with us, whether in Birmingham or Dubai. Staff will be based in regional cities, including Mumbai and Hyderabad, and a dedicated admissions team for India will speed applications’ progress. We are working with Indian recruitment partners to fast-track applications.
Is the post-graduate work visa a big draw for Indian students in the UK and your university?
A: Our Chancellor, Lord Karan Bilimoria, played an instrumental role, as president of the UK Council on International Student Affairs (UKCISA) and as co-chair of the International Students All Party Parliamentary Group, in securing the new graduate visa. The visa, which came into effect on January 1, 2021, enables Indian students to spend up to two years working in the UK after their studies – three years in the case of PhD students. It will help to attract Indian students to the UK, but what will really motivate them is the opportunity to experience academic life in Britain – in the case of the University of Birmingham working with some of the finest minds in the world – and to increase employability prospects. We are confident that the new number of Indian students hoping to study in British universities will increase by leaps and bounds over the years.
Do you have faculty members of Indian origin?
A: We have over 3,400 academic staff and currently there are 110 members of Indian origin.

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