London Is Best Home for Indian Students: Lord Paul

Aditi Khanna/London
London Is Best Home for Indian Students: Lord Paul

Leading NRI industrialist Lord Swraj Paul has endorsed London as one of the best cities for Indian students to come and study, saying there is no place in the world other than the British capital where an Indian can feel more at home.

The Chancellor of one of the city's leading educational institutions, Westminster University, was responding to a survey that London's universities offer millions of pounds worth of scholarships every year to students from India to come and study at some of the world's best higher education institutions.

The survey, carried out by the London University International Partnership (LUIP), found that a vast majority of Indian students (85 per cent) currently studying here thought that a London education widened horizons and gave the opportunity to explore a greater choice of careers.

"London has very good universities. Every parent when looking at sending their child to study abroad would prefer sending them to Britain and from an Indian point of view, Britain is London. They have relatives here and they know if their children have any issues, they can turn to somebody," said Paul, who is the founder Chairman of the Caparo Group.

"That is a great attraction to any Indian family, and children also want to come here as they feel at home. There is no place in the world where an Indian once out of India can feel more at home than in London," he said.

"London is the most international city in the world and Indians are extremely welcome. Do not judge it by the visa rules. London is more than visas. And, you get better Indian food here than in India," Paul said in a lighter vein as part of his appeal to Indian students looking at studying abroad.

Paul is also the Chancellor of Wolverhampton University.

The survey, released here today, covers a third of the city's universities and found that in total an average of 2.5 million pounds has been awarded to students each year from India and over 7 million pounds over the last three years.

The figure could be three times higher (over 7 million pounds per year) as just the 17 universities in the LUIP took part in the study.

While acknowledging the attraction of scholarships, Paul also highlighted the importance of allowing post-study work placements.

"Scholarships are attractive but by and large any Indian student who wants to come finds the money in India. My own view is scholarships do not really mean that much when it comes to Indian students coming to London," he said.

"Indian students want to feel more welcome. I believe if they got the opportunity to work for two years minimum, that would be far more attractive than scholarships."

Elaborating on the importance of the UK government sending out some positive messages around immigration to stem a recent trend of a fall in Indian student numbers, he added: "The government has its own compulsions, which are well known because immigration had gone out of control; the reason for that is not necessarily India but mostly Europe which is a big issue at the moment any way.

"But it is affecting Indian students, which has led to a lot of representations and there is a lot of sympathy. I wouldn't say that the government is completely blind to it.

"I fully endorse the idea that students should be outside the immigration cap, that is something I have been speaking about for a long time. Students should not be considered as part of immigrants; they bring in a lot of value to our own British students here.

"A part of education, apart from books and classes, is how you interact with the rest of the world, especially in a globalised world. And, it helps British trade because the students who go back are your best ambassadors," he said.

Paul also stressed the importance of growing collaborations and exchange programmes between universities of the two countries.

The survey of Indians currently studying in London found that over half thought they would earn more during their career, while 62 per cent expected to progress faster in their chosen career and over 72 per cent said that studying in London was well worth the investment.

Nearly three quarters of students said the experience of living in a modern city with a rich history, free museums, and a multi-cultural society was a really significant benefit.

Approximately 90 per cent of the 300 respondents said they felt really welcome by their university when they arrived in London and a similar percentage said they had found the application process simple and cheaper as they only needed to fill in one online form to apply to a whole range of universities, and the majority of applications were free.

LUIP chair Gary Davies said: "We really value our special relationship with India and are now investing in a number of long term partnerships and on the ground resources to enhance and develop the relationship for the future."

Kevin McCarthy, head of studylondon.Com, added: "London is home to over 105,000 international students from 220 nations. Students studying in London not only replicate London's diversity but also contribute hugely to the city's vibrancy."

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