The UK’s Diversity is an asset
Through the eyes of an Indian student.
Britain attracts much talent from around the globe none more so from India. In 2009 alone 36,105 students came from India to study at British universities and doing so contributes much to the economy.
One of the key selling points of brand Britain in attracting these students is its diverse and multi-cultural population. Especially London, often described as the most culturally diverse metropolis in the world boasting 200 nations being represented in the capital and 300 languages spoken around the city. The capital is known for embracing culture with open arms and plays host to a variety of cultural events. Such events as Diwali and Eid in Trafalgar Square or more recently the Chinese New Year celebrations are often taken for granted in the capital by its residents but can often be a pleasant nostalgic surprise for the international student. So there is little wonder then why the Greater London Authority (GLA) describes diversity as London’s biggest asset.
Unfortunately this precious image has recently been taking a bit of a battering lately which has left a bitter after taste for the Indian student. The introduction of the 2012 student visa rules have meant that from April 2012 international students will no longer be able to stay on and find work but have to adhere to new tighter rules. The most stringent of these is that any post-qualification employment found by the graduate will have to have a minimum salary of at least £20,000. Another image crusher was the London Metropolitan University (LMU) fiasco which saw 2,500 international students (many of them from India) left high and dry and facing a fruitless trip back to their country. The revoking of LMU’s Highly Trusted Sponsor status in August 2012 meant that many genuine full fee paying students were being punished (penalized) for no fault of their own .
On the contrary efforts of many other countries which appear to be bending over backwards seem to attract students from the sub-continent. For example take our next door neighbours, top Irish universities including Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin have set aside funds in the region of 200,000 Euros for bursaries specifically aimed at Indian students. On the other side of the globe the Japanese are also attempting to woo more Indian students to its shores by associating its educational institutions with their counterparts in India. This type of joined up (mutual) collaboration allows for first hand experience of life within Japan enticing students to consider furthering their studies within the country. While major established players such as Canada and Australia all offer simpler post-work visas.
Given the importance of attracting and retaining the best talent for Britain’s many leading industries and the ever increasing globalised market we work in, the UK too needs to maintain its image as country of choice for top level education. Its image as a leading secular country which embraces all culture with open arms and adaptability to change needs to be maintained if not strengthened to protect this important asset from any further impairment.
By Sanjay Sharda