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Posted By : Parthasarathy
11/11/2011 8:53 PM

“Trends are changing. Students increasingly prefer courses that will ensure them jobs towards the end of the academic year.” Targeting the massive demand for quality education in India, foreign universities are eagerly awaiting the introduction and passage of Foreign Education Bill in Parliament. Representatives of the Middlesex University, based in London, met Kapil Sibal, Union Minister for Human Resources Development, to discuss the possibilities of setting up a campus in India. “The Minister is quite appreciative of the idea.

We hope the bill will be passed. For now, the AICTE has advised us to follow the present norms and offer courses in which two years of the undergraduate course will be in India and the final year in the U.K. For postgraduate course, nine months in India and six months in the U.K.,” said Steve Knight, deputy vice-chancellor, Middlesex University. The courses would initially offer the popular management and IT courses.

The university has set up two foreign campuses in Dubai and Mauritius. The quality of faculty members in its foreign campuses would not be compromised, he said. “We will recruit faculty members from all over the world, and the course fee will be 40 per cent of what we charge in the U.K.,” said Michael Driscoll, vice-chancellor. At present the university has close liaison with institutes such as KM Music Conservatory, and Aptech in Mumbai, and also has plans to collaborate with the dance school run by Shaimak Davar Institute of Performing Arts. Other projects in the pipeline include tie-ups with Rajalakshmi College of Engineering and exchange of knowledge between researchers from the premier technical and management institutions. Economic downturn The economic downturn seems to have hit the higher education sector in the U.K. too. “Now the money domestic students need to shell out on education is almost on par with that for an international student. Students can pay the fees with a student loan to be repaid when they are earning more than £21,000. The burden has shifted from the tax payer as the students would now be paying back the loan through tax,” says Mr. Michael.

“For international students, particularly Indians, the banks are cautious while giving out loans, since there are restrictions on international students working in the U.K.,” he adds. On the recent strike following job cuts of faculty members in the university, Mr. Michael said, “The university has been affected by the economic situation, and this was a cost-cutting measure. The funding from the U.K. government has on the whole decreased, as a result of which we have been forced to reduce staff strength.” Change in trends The university recently closed down its philosophy department since there were few takers. “Trends are changing. Students increasingly prefer courses that will ensure them jobs towards the end of the academic year. In the process conventional courses such as philosophy are being pushed back,” he says.

It is not just philosophy that is suffering; physics and chemistry are also seeing a downward trend. “For Physics, U.S. space programmes gave the biggest boost. But with fewer such programmes, the inclination to take up academic courses in physics has also gone down. Same is the case with chemistry. On the other hand interest has shifted towards life science studies, including biochemistry, genetics, and media programmes,” he says. These also reflect the preferences of Indian students. Arts and graphic design is a big hit among students. For this, the university recently constructed a new art, design and media arts building called The Grove. “As per a recent ranking, graduates from the university have the highest starting salary potential after their course in the university,” says Mr. Michael

University URL:http://www.mdx.ac.uk/

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