Prof Manuel Barcia
Prof Manuel Barcia(Pic: University of Leeds)

"Hope is that the new Labour gov't won’t feel the need to demonise immigrants": Dean, University of Leeds

Prof Manuel Barcia, Dean of Global Engagement at the University of Leeds speaks to us on the occasion of the university completing its 25 years of the university in India
Q

Looking back, a reflection: 25 years of existence in India. Share three milestones with us...

A

The University of Leeds proudly holds the distinction of being the first UK university to establish a presence in India and one of the earliest to do so, globally. This pioneering initiative underscores our long-standing commitment to fostering international education and collaboration.

Over the years, we have celebrated the graduation of numerous Indian students, each of whom has gone on to contribute to various fields both in India and internationally. Presently, we are honoured to have approximately 1,500 Indian students enrolled at Leeds, enriching our campus with their diverse perspectives and talents.

In recent years, our relationship with Indian partners has evolved and deepened, particularly through collaborative research aimed at addressing some of the world's most pressing challenges.

One of the most significant achievements in our 25-year journey has been the development of strategic partnerships with prestigious institutions and corporates in India. Our alliances with OP Jindal Global University, the Institute of Chemical Technology (ICT) in Mumbai, the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Madras, and IIT Kharagpur have been instrumental in advancing research, fostering innovation, and promoting academic excellence.

These collaborations have not only enhanced our research capabilities but have also provided valuable opportunities for student and faculty exchanges, joint academic activities, and co-funded research projects.

Together, we are making strides in areas such as sustainable development, healthcare, advanced engineering, and social sciences, contributing to a better and more sustainable future for all.

Q

What can we look forward to the most in the upcoming 25 years? What will be the focus?

A

Our emphasis lies in fostering collaborative partnerships built on equity, where we work together to devise solutions to pressing global issues. By concentrating on key Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) where we possess shared expertise, we can effectively drive progress and innovation.

We leverage our collective knowledge and resources to address challenges such as climate change, sustainable development, and social equity. This approach not only aligns with our global mission but also ensures that our collaborative efforts are impactful and relevant.

These 25 years and the years to come have been committed to welcoming quality Indian students to the University of Leeds, offering them a world-class education and an enriching international experience. In parallel, we aim to develop new Transnational Education (TNE) programs with our esteemed Indian partners.

These initiatives will facilitate academic exchanges and collaborative research opportunities, further strengthening the ties between our institutions and enhancing the educational landscape for students in India and the UK.

Q

Your comments on the Graduate Route Visa and the government's next step regarding it.

A

With the results of the General Elections in the UK, there is a renewed hope that the Graduate route (GR) discussion will be put to bed for good.

In fact, even the Tory government came to accept the findings of the MAC report before the General Election.

Although the GR was used as a political point-scoring issue for months and until early May 2024, we can now look forward to having a stable GR that won’t be undermined again by an incumbent government.

Q

Your comments on the UK adopting more strict policies against migrants.

A

Again, these policies have been part of the culture wars that successive Tory governments used as populist policies.

The hope among all of us in the UK is that the new Labour government won’t feel the need to demonise immigrants and that more evidence-based, effective and rational policies will be undertaken to deal with the issue.

Q

Your comments on Indian students in the UK and why they pick the country. 

A

Indian students coming to the UK consistently demonstrate a remarkable level of preparedness. Not only do they excel academically (I speak specifically for the University of Leeds), but they also stand out as one of the most engaged groups of students at the university.

Their involvement extends beyond the classroom, as they actively participate in volunteering, serve as student ambassadors, and contribute to various campus activities.

Their dedication and enthusiasm are a testament to the strength of the Indian education system, which prepares students exceptionally well for higher education and research.

It is a pleasure to teach and mentor these students, as their commitment to learning and community engagement enriches the academic environment at the University of Leeds.

Their presence on campus not only enhances the cultural diversity but also fosters a vibrant and dynamic learning community.

Q

What the University of Leeds does/offers for Indian students?

A

This year, as part of our celebrations for the 25th anniversary of our presence in India, I had the privilege to announce in New Delhi the introduction of the new 25th anniversary scholarships.

These scholarships are available to every Indian student paying international fees and starting a postgraduate taught (PGT) degree in September 2024. Each scholarship will effectively reduce the tuition fees for these students by £5,000.

We decided to take this step, in order to acknowledge the depths of our links with India and to give something back to a country that has been close to our hearts an integral part of our community, for a quarter of a century now.

By offering these scholarships, we aim to acknowledge and strengthen our enduring relationship with India, providing valuable support to the talented students who choose to join us at the University of Leeds.

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