Published: 10th September 2018
How to get into the London School of Economics? Ask Paul Kelly
There will be an element of stress. But the UK is not closed to Indian students. The best qualified Indian students have genuine opportunities, says the Pro-Director of Int'l Partnerships for LSE
The anticipation of an imminent change in scholarships and educational programmes in the UK post-Brexit has put many students under stress. Professor Paul Kelly, Pro-Director with responsibility for International Partnerships and East Asia and Professor of Political Theory at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), decodes the situation for us. In India for the graduation ceremony of Indian School of Business & Finance (ISBF), a featured teaching institution of LSE, which also enjoys University of London’s Affiliate Centre status, Kelly delivered the keynote address at the National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI) auditorium, New Delhi before he spoke to us. Excerpts from an informative conversation:
Universities in the UK have constantly told us that there will be little to no change as far as the admission and fees for Indian students is concerned post-Brexit. Is there a long-term change or impact that prospective students need to think about in the post-Brexit future?
The long-term impact of students applying t study in the UK after Brexit is difficult to predict. In the short to medium term there'll be a dividend in terms of price. Everyone expects an impact on the value of the currency and that will impact the value of the fees being charged. The other important thing is that the sector will remain competitive for Indian students looking to study abroad. There is a visa issue there which will affect the overall size of the number of students studying there, but that still leaves room for institutions to raise the competition for the best students who can come to the UK. My view is modestly optimistic for the future.
With the ever-changing dynamics between the UK and India — especially after visa norms do not allow Indian students to have easier checks to get their student visas as of July 2018 — is there an element of stress on the average applicant who is looking to study in the UK?
There will be an element of stress. The overall message is one of opportunity. We're not closed to Indian students. The best qualified Indian students applying to study in the UK, there are genuine opportunities and we will endeavour to make offers to the best students.
India spends less than three per cent of its GDP on education but at the same time, there are more and more institutes of excellence that are cropping up (more IIMs and the IITs). From a global socio-political standpoint, how do you think India could do things better?
I would hope that India would be more accommodating of international programmes like ours which have great opportunities for Indian students. The challenge is one of creating opportunities for students to have a higher level of educational experience.
A major section of Indian (and Asian) students travel abroad to study in search of a high-paying job but since the UK has all but ensured that migrant students do not have the option of finding employment there, is studying in Great Britain still a good bet?
The Master's students at LSE are still very attractive to global recruiters and employers. I would say to students that the opportunities are still very positive. Students need to look at questions about placements and employability of institutions that they are studying in. If that's done wisely then there are great opportunities.
The MBA has been losing its sheen in the last decade, barring a few top-line schools such as yours. In a saturated market for MBAs, what different skill does LSE offer, other than its reputation, to a student who wants to pursue a management course there?
The MBA market was always largely shaped by the US institutions. Globally MBAs have become less attractive and major companies are less and less prepared to invest in their employees studying MBAs. The LSE doesn't offer MBAs but Masters programmes that are shaped by our commitment to the social sciences and applying that to management education.
With digital marketing and AI-linked consumer targeting taking over conventional business practices, how in sync with digital marketing trends are MBA programmes worldwide. What's a good course to study for 2030, in your opinion?
Given the way our programmes are designed to create skills that are long-lasting rather than employment specific in the short term, I'm encouraged looking at our programmes in Finance, Economics and Accounting Finance because they will make students very flexible for the long term.
International strategic partnerships are big in the education sector. Tell us a bit about your international programmes in India, hoe you select your partners and what a student can hope to gain by studying there — over and above the average Business School.
The LSE international programme runs a suite of courses called the EMFSS that includes Economics, Management, Finance and Social sciences. We are happy to partner with ISBF which teaches degrees under the suite of programmes. The partnership is regulated by the central body of the University of London. It's a rigorous process that the institutions go through to be awarded the status. We have been building up our relationship with the ISBF over the past few years because of their excellent performance. It's important that our partner institutions uphold the same quality as LSE.
Give us your four-point guide for a student who aspires to get admitted to LSE. What does LSE look for in a potential applicant?
When I was asked this earlier, I said something like Excellence, Excellence, Excellence and Excellence.
The kind of institution we are, we look at students with very strong track records with the ability to perform at the highest levels. We're also mindful that the city and the institution come with challenges with living and working with LSE. So we look at the character, the independence and resilience they have. So I always encourage those who are applying to emphasise that in their applications to that selectors will realise that they're the sort of person who will benefit from being in the LSE. And from the activity of learning from other students. LSE isn't for everybody. It is very challenging. But it's something that a lot of students can benefit from. If they can demonstrate some of those skills on their application then that will help.
(The content has been edited in accordance with editorial discretion)