Published: 15th May 2019
This institute offers a unique way for students to realise their academic hopes!
John Christopher has established the perfect portal to your dream of studying and working abroad - complete with scholarships, permanent residency and future employment
Kings Cornerstone International College, located along Chennai's ECR corridor, is an academic establishment like no other. They take in a small group of promising students and mould them into engineers, researchers and pioneers who they hope will make a difference in tomorrow's world. What sets the institute apart is the manner in which the necessary training and coaching are delivered. For starters, they send their final year students to universities abroad and help them obtain work permits and even permanent residences. We speak to John Christopher, the founder and director at Kings Cornerstone International College, to find out more.
Please tell us a little about yourself, particularly your educational background and personal interests.
I am John Christopher, the Co-founder and Director of Kings Cornerstone International College, Chennai. I pursued my degree in Software Engineering and have worked in the HR sector. I started my career as an immigration consultant and I have worked with various MNCs, offering people migration pathways. I worked with people from various professional backgrounds and helped them migrate to countries like the UK, Australia and Canada, in addition to securing permanent residence permits as well. I started Kings Cornerstone with my wife in 2010.
The college was established to allow a student to complete 70 per cent of their degree course in India (using the Indian fee system and so on) and complete their final year abroad at a foreign university. The degree would then be awarded by that university. How exactly does this module work?
We work with a company called Pearson, which is a global leader in education. They test and assess students and professionals using their platform, issuing a certificate at the end. In association with them, we deliver a ‘Pearson-qualification’ for the first two years and then we transfer the students to other universities. The students at Cornerstone have access to nearly 1,000 universities from across the world and have an exceptionally high chance of finding suitable employment and even permanent residence abroad. We are basically a launching facility that provides specialised coaching to a small group of about 200 students each year, most of whom hail from middle-class families, and help them launch their careers abroad. With respect to our modus operandi, we have certifications and authorisation to transfer the credits earned by the students during their study here to the foreign university.
When students switch universities during their last year, won’t they face difficulties (new country/new food/new faces/new professors and so on)? Do you have a guidance cell or support department that looks after your students when they study abroad?
We work predominantly in two cities – London and Melbourne. We identify suitable programmes that enable students to become employable within the Australian workforce, help them work in Australia for up to 18 months and then finally, assist them in getting permanent placements or residencies. Many of our alumni, who currently number about 600, are settled abroad and help us with the transition process by providing accommodation and orientation to the students. The course syllabus that our students pursue here is aligned towards the international curriculum – we don’t believe in traditional exams or memorising texts. Instead, we have practical workshops, presentations, assignments and other methods that are followed abroad. This way, our students are groomed for their final year with a guarantee of being employable in the international arena.
The degree that they earn after completing their studies, would that be awarded by Kings Cornerstone or by the foreign university?
We do not award any degrees – we are only a service provider. Instead, we have tie-ups with other universities outside India. The students study foreign programmes at our campus and after they complete it, they are transferred, along with their grades, to the foreign university, who will also award them their degree. Some of our most prestigious affiliations include RMIT, Australia and the University of Hertfordshire in the UK. We follow the academic requirements of these universities and adopt their education delivery methodology. The reason we have been able to hold onto such reputed universities is because of the guarantee we give them of producing outstanding scholars.
You follow a ‘practice-based learning’ system wherein, students are taught as per industry requirements and real-life solutions. Do you feel that other colleges in Chennai are not doing the same?
Not all colleges, but there are regulations and terms that restrict them from imparting the necessary training to their students. However, practice-based learning is the future of college education, where work-integrated learning plays an important role. Simply sitting in a classroom for eight hours every day doesn’t suffice and they might not even be employable towards the end. We have configured our modules so that they study and practice what they have learnt. There are workshops, guest lecturers and other interactive sessions to ensure that our students get the best available hands-on training in their field of study. We integrate education with corporate coaching and in this way, mould the students into employable individuals.
How many students do you have in one class and how many programmes do you have?
We accept just 200 students a year – those who are very keen on settling abroad. A class generally consists of around 25 students and we currently have five engineering departments. We offer programmes that are highly specialised, such as those in Aerospace Engineering and Formula 1 Operations.
You had earlier said that you did not believe in the conventional Indian method of memorising and writing exams. But isn’t this how Indian students are trained right from their school days?
Most Indian students are bookworms – they read, memorise and write what they have read. This is due to the design of our education system as well as the fact that Indian teachers expect answers which are from the textbooks. Few schools and colleges accept original and creative solutions. We, on the other hand, follow the international methodology in which we have an induction period of about one semester wherein, students write assignments and give presentations. A student cannot be judged based on their marks. We follow an approach wherein, we impart numerous real-life skills such as leadership, problem-solving, teamwork, creativity and others, to bring out the best in our students.
Even if you prepare your students for abroad, many of them might return to India and work here. Won’t they will face competition from those who have trained the traditional way and are better prepared to tackle local situations?
Our students have gone on to study and settle down in cities like London and Melbourne and they earn far higher salaries than their Indian counterparts. They work with top companies such as BMW, Lamborghini and Mercedes-Benz. They invite their families to join them as well. This moulds our students to become highly independent and competent. While most of them tend to settle outside India permanently, those who do return are employed at the managerial level and not at the entry level. This provides them with an edge.
What are your future plans/targets, especially for this year?
We wish to expand and keep growing and establish virtual classrooms for online learning. We are striving to increase our reputation and are uniquely positioned. Our current target is to stabilise our ECR campus and we are looking to extend our services overseas in 2021. Nepal, Dubai and Africa are presently on our expansion list.