— Written by Professor Sir Keith Burnett
What a time this is to think about becoming a student. You have worked hard on your studies and are preparing for your examinations. You would get the same dreams of travel to the UK and begin your adventure in a British university that I had when I applied to be a student at The University of Oxford from my home in Wales 50 years ago.
And now the Covid-19 virus has transformed our world. We have been advised to stay indoors and travel has been temporarily curtailed. What does it mean for our dreams and plans?
But now, thankfully, we are seeing the first glimmer of hope that lockdowns will be lifted – carefully of course – in the next few weeks. It may take a little time and be a while before full normality is restored, but travel will resume and universities will reopen eventually.
But what will that mean for those Indian students who are courageous enough to take that step, possibly beginning courses online or stepping off a plane into a still emerging reality? Well, while any student or family member is naturally concerned and will have questions, I would like to share some reasons for optimism.
The first is that, ironically, Britain is more open to Indian students now than at any time over recent years. Th post-study work visas are being restored and the government has introduced an international education strategy across all departments aimed at creating more welcoming policies to the scholars of the future. Many aspirants are delighted to see this change away from the caution of Teresa May to the pro-Indian internationalism of Boris Johnson. Even this week a recent Conservative Universities Minister called for the post study work visa to be extended to four years – the policy mood is now moving to a greater welcome for international students, at last.
Practical advice and assistance for Indian students in the UK
There is also practical help on hand for Indian students who wish to travel to the UK and once they arrive here. The UK Council for International Student Affairs, for example, provides up to date advice on technical questions around visas and student finance. The Indian National Students Association can also offer specific advice.
Opportunities at a challenging time
Students who may have thought it would too difficult to get into a particular Russell Group university may now find that they have a better chance at doing so. And those who graduate from this smaller cohort will find themselves in the position to use this as they seek employment. If you’d like to understand more about what opportunities might now be available to you, you should directly email the teams working on international recruitment for universities to see what possibility there might be for you to follow your specific ambitions at this time.
— The author is Vice-Chair (Academic) of Study Group and was formerly Head of Mathematics and Physical Sciences at The University of Oxford.
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