Published: 29th November 2018
Brexit will not affect Indian students' opportunities: British Council's Janaka Pushpanathan
British Council's Janaka Pushpanathan tells us about trends in the UK education sphere and why the impact of Brexit will be slim to none
With concerns about the academic opportunities in the UK following visa uncertainties and Brexit itself, Janaka Pushpanathan, Director-South India, British Council tells us that there's very little to worry about. The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We asked her about the prevailing scenario, the British Council's landmark year in India and what they've got on the digital anvil. Excerpts from a conversation:
Every student who applies to the UK hopes to get employed after their course. What is the scope of Indian students, post-Brexit, getting employed in the UK?
Brexit will not change the fact that the UK is committed to welcoming Indian students and professionals to study in the UK. In fact, the UK welcomes 500,000 international students every year. Employment opportunities are also rising, with over 51,000 Tier 2 work visas being granted to Indian nationals in the year 2018. The opportunities for Indian students to study in the UK will not change with Brexit.
In India, engineering used to be the course 'to do', but students now prefer to study unconventional courses and are leaning towards Humanities and Arts subjects. Is it the same in the UK?
Trends in the UK have always been diverse. According to HESA data, in the UK between 2015-16 and 2016-17, for first-year undergraduate students, the largest percentage increase was in Computer science at 4%. In terms of first-year postgraduate students, between 2015-16 and 2016-17, the largest percentage increase was seen in Biological Sciences at 25%.
After 70 successful years of being in India, what is the next big project you're going to be working on?
Over the last 70 years of its presence in India, the British Council has worked to partner India’s knowledge ambitions, with the English language playing an important role in helping Indians explore opportunities in India and across the world. We have been inspired by India every day of those 70 years and hope that in a small way, we inspire young people in both our countries to imagine what the next 70 years could be. By the year 2020, we aim to reach 100 million young people in India (through English language, creativity, sport, UK innovation and education), support the ambitions of 2 million to study or work overseas and help 1 million people improve their job prospects.
In an increasingly digital age, what are some of the initiatives BC has taken to stay relevant, to reach a wider audience?
We really believe that the digital revolution is the best way to improve access to quality education, skills and qualifications. We co-developed a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) with University College London Institute of Education, specifically designed for teachers in India. We have worked with 12 state governments training over 9,000 Master Trainers, who have gone on to train 1 million teachers of English. Over 2 million people in India accessed our online and mobile English learning resources last year
There were 104 women who received a scholarship recently. How have their lives been impacted?
The scholarships were granted to women who wanted to pursue a Master’s degree in STEM subjects. Apart from a full-tuition scholarship, we were very pleased to facilitate their meeting with the UK Prime Minister Theresa May on November 2, 2018, In fact, the ladies flagged off a major global science exhibition that will come to India next year. I think the scholarship has given them the kind of global exposure and opportunities that they might not have received otherwise. And we have just announced the second round that will fund STEM education for another 70 women