Sunday, 13 November 2011

Scottish delight

Michael Russell, Member of the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Education & Lifelong Learning, speaks to Tirna Ray on how Scotland can be a key partner in Indian efforts to widen access to higher education

Traditionally , UK has always been an Indian student's first choice. Hence, by default , Scotland was always part of the package. However, with India emerging as a knowledge economy , Scotland is well set in promoting itself as an independent brand, an academic destination with its own strengths.
Michael Russell, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Education & Lifelong Learning, was recently in the Capital with a high-level delegation representing 13 of Scotland's 16 universities including Edinburgh , Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Strathclyde, Stirling, Glasgow Caledonian, Edinburgh Napier , to mention a few. As to the purpose of his visit, Russell said, "I have been visiting India to help strengthen the links between Scotland and India, with a focus on academic collaboration, international student exchange and research partnerships, both academics and business. Scotland can be a key partner in Indian efforts to widen access to higher education."
At present, there are 4,000 Indian students in Scottish universities and colleges, comprising eight per cent of the international students or 14% of the non-EU students studying in Scotland. However, Russell is eager that at a time when student mobility is the key word, students from Scotland should also come to India for an academic experience.
As to India becoming the favourite destination in recent times for student recruitment, Russell said that Scotland is looking at a deeper nature of collaboration rather than the mere structural aspect of collaboration. Also, as an academic destination, it is interested in undergraduate and postgraduate as well as research students. With India's high-quality human capital, 'joint PhDs' is likely to be a strong area of collaboration.
Also, as part of the delegation's visit, quite a few agreements were signed including a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the University of Aberdeen and and University of Petroleum and Energy Studies, and an MoU between Sikkim Manipal University and Edinburgh Napier University.


In reference to the latest changes to the immigration rules, Russell said, "My government does not have responsibility for immigration and we don't support these changes; of course we plan to hold a referendum on Scottish independence , which could ensure Scotland is able to set its own, more welcoming, immigration rules."
As far as costs are concerned, with the Scottish government paying the fees of all Scottish domicile students, it has the same fee structure as the rest of the UK for international students. Cost of living estimates are slightly lower than in England and range from around £400 to £600 per month depending on the accommodation and the city where the student is based.

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