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The Indian Student Diaspora Constitutes The Most Vibrant Student Communities: James Richardson, Global Engagement Director, Sheffield Hallam University

In an interview with BW Businessworld, James Richardson, Global Engagement Director, Sheffield Hallam University, spoke about the introduction of specialized courses and more.

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What made you think of approaching the Indian students?

Indian students studying in overseas education institutions are perceived to be among the most successful and enterprising young leaders. They are leading the world in starting up businesses and technologies of the 21st century. Their contributions have left an indelible mark also on the UK’s future. We, at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), want to reach out to more of such talented students who we believe will fit in with our value system and can be an asset to the overall student community. Additionally, grades are another essential parameter while admitting an individual, and Indian students are well known for their academic and English language skills. 

Moreover, Indian students have traditionally preferred U.K. universities. The Indian student diaspora constitutes amongst the most vibrant of student communities in our campus. Over the years, we have also understood the academic requirements of these students and have developed courses specifically designed to meet their expectations such as Postgraduate courses with work experience. We have also invested in setting up an office in Delhi to support students during their application process, prior to their arrival at SHU.

What are the key attractions for Indian students? 

SHU is one of the leading applied universities in the U.K. and offers some of the most advanced, top-level education which goes beyond the traditional methodology. Our hybrid courses allow students to pursue some of the most relevant courses in today’s times. For example, our postgraduate courses in Cancer Biology, Sports Business Management, and Cyber Security offer the most advanced curriculum which blends theoretical teaching and practical exposure, with a cutting-edge learning environment. The university’s state-of-the-art facilities are easily accessible, and this helps students manage their classes, extra-curricular activities, and daily living productively. 

Also, we have specialized courses for international students in the form of ‘sandwich’ courses that allow them to take up work placements during their undergraduate study period. This industry experience will give them an edge when reaching out to potential employers. 

Our placement records are highly ranked amongst other global universities because of our longlasting industry relations and strong alumni networks. This has helped our students' bag internships, projects and career opportunities in topmost global companies in all major fields. Some of our key partners are Siemens, NHS, Rolls-Royce, Sheffield United FC, Manchester United FC, Volkswagen, etc. 

SHU isn’t a boring place to study, we are a part of a 60,000+ strong student city and the 5th largest city in the U.K. Students are quickly integrated into rich music, art and cultural scene second to none. They can pursue extra-curricular activities, join student clubs, play sports, etc. and get guidance and support from the university to meet their recreational needs. 

Moreover, the cost of living is below the national average. On top of that, with attractive scholarship opportunities made available for all international students, SHU becomes an increasingly attractive study destination. 

The above-mentioned factors, amongst many others, have in fact helped SHU consistently improve its ranking to 28th out of 127 in the U.K. in terms of student satisfaction. The University has also climbed 30 places in the last 2 years in the Guardian University Guide rankings. 

You offer 700 courses. So, which courses according to you will charm most, the students here

Indian students have traditionally opted for courses in the different streams of Engineering, International Business, Finance, MBA, computing, etc. which we believe remain popular. We have offerings in both undergraduate and postgraduate courses in these conventional fields. However, more and more Indian aspirants are applying to foreign universities for specialized courses. They are increasingly discerning and confident in picking up contemporary courses such as Cancer Biology, Sports Business Management, Cybersecurity, etc. These require even more specialized and expert faculty and professors, along with advanced labs and facilities on campus. That is why, we have consciously decided to upgrade our facilities and campuses with an investment of more than 100 million pounds, in the last five years alone. We now have world-class facilities to offer to students and some of the most dynamic faculty. 

Do you think that the new courses you are planning to introduce such as Cancer Biology and Cyber Security, will attract the Indian students? 

The Indian IT sector has grown rapidly, with pioneering work by Indian software and IT engineers that has been leveraged by big corporates and small businesses alike. Indian students are driven to learn and explore the latest technologies and advancements available across the globe and use their knowledge and skills to enhance their careers. Our programs will aid these driven minds in furthering these ambitions. In the advent of the 4th industrial revolution where Artificial Intelligence and Automation are disrupting technology, our livelihoods and businesses are changing rapidly. It is therefore imperative that universities adapt to these changes. Cybersecurity will continue to be an integral part of our digital futures and Indian engineers are at the forefront of global technological innovations. We wish to empower students with the right tools to pursue their research and learning, to become job creators and experts. 

Similar strides are being made in Cancer research, owing to the various health challenges in these times and research becoming much more prominent in the last couple of decades. Furthermore, its treatment is becoming more accessible. India is at the helm of advancement in the field of Cancer Biology, and we see this as a huge opportunity for aspirants in the field. We have designed our curriculums keeping in mind futuristic applications, to give an edge to our students once they graduate.

Sports Business Management is already there in many universities, what is unique about your curriculum? 

We were ranked No. 1 in the U.K. for M.Sc. in Sports Business Management course in the 2018 ‘Sports Business Postgraduate’ course rankings. We believe this is due to the balance we achieved by designing a curriculum with an academic, pedagogical approach alongside hands-on experience with the faculty’s prolific sports industry background. Students are also given an option to pursue a 3-month sports industry work placement, where they can get to apply their academic learnings on the job, while also having the option to complete their dissertations based on their experiences. 

Our Sports Business Management programs also support and facilitate students to participate in some of the world’s most prominent sports championships. Students have had opportunities to volunteer at high profile events from the Commonwealth Games in Delhi 2010, Sochi Winter Olympics 2014, London Olympic Games 2012 to the most recent Cricket World Cup 2019 where many Indian students also got an opportunity to volunteer. 

How Sheffield Hallam University is different from others that provide the same curriculum in India?

Sheffield is the U.K. city of sports, with world-renowned football clubs and other sports academies. The University leaves no stone unturned in providing students with assistance in pursuing their interests amidst world-class facilities. Innovations in technology and new methodologies are redefining the way sports businesses are handled, and our close association with the sports industry has allowed us to understand their practical needs in a better manner. Through our contemporary curriculum, we are trying to marry this industry expertise with student interests, making it a one-of-a-kind course. This prepares them for being job-ready, with a strong theoretical and practical foundation. 

We are proud that our Sports business management students will get a chance to volunteer at the Football Euro Cup next year which will be hosted in 12 different European cities. They were also able to volunteer at the recent Cricket World Cup hosted in the U.K. It’s a key strategic advantage we have over many other universities in India. Similarly, students pursuing advanced courses and research work are in near proximity to attend globally recognized conferences and events wherein they get the opportunity to interact with some of the biggest industry stalwarts. 

Do you offer any short-term and add-on course? 

We do offer short courses such as summer schools in the areas of art, design, and media. We also recently hosted some students and academic staff from Chennai for 3 weeks who worked on live artificial intelligence projects with industry. 

Are campus placements organized by the university?

What is the average number of firms/companies coming for recruitment? Every year, the university offers over 24, 000 placements and work opportunities with over 1, 000 employers. We have assisted students with their placement in companies which include, but are not limited to Siemens, NHS, Rolls-Royce, Sheffield United FC, Volkswagen, Disney World, etc. 

Through our sandwich courses, students take up work placements during the third year of their course. This helps them gain both theoretical and practical experiences before they even graduate. This industry experience also gives them an edge when reaching out to potential employers after their studies. 

Recently, the U.K. government has taken cognizance of the requirement for a highly skilled workforce in a post-BREXIT scenario. They are now proposing an extension in the duration of the post-study visas for international graduates of British universities to 6 months from the stipulated 3 months. This is progress in the right direction, and it shall benefit students immensely. 

What is the average percentage of students getting placed every year? 

Around 81% of the undergraduate ‘placement year’ students are in highly skilled employment or further study within 6 months after graduating. 100 per cent of our undergraduate courses offers the ‘placement year’ option that the students can use to find industry-relevant work experience through our assistance. According to the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) 2016/17 survey, students who have taken up the ‘placement year’ option as a part of their course structure stand to benefit as they tend to earn nearly 21 per cent more on average than those who don’t. 

What is the admission procedure at the university? 

When applying to postgraduate courses, applicants will have to fill out an online application form available on the website. They can visit each course-specific webpage and follow the procedure step by step as indicated in the application process. 

There are no fixed application deadlines, however, we encourage students to apply at the earliest as higher volume of applications tend to fill up the allotted student admissions per course for September or January intakes. Students should also apply as early as possible for their visa. 

For Undergraduate courses, they can apply directly to the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), which provides all the information needed for undergraduate programs. Applicants could also apply through us directly if they wish to. They can contact our office in Delhi at [email protected], or write to [email protected] They will then be provided with an application form accordingly.  

Does it hold any entrance exams? 

There isn’t any common entrance exam for admission. However, admission into our University requires all applicants to declare their English language proficiency through a U.K. government recognized testing service such as IELTS. Their performance in the test shall determine their eligibility for the courses. The information about eligibility and IELTS test score requirements of each course are provided in detail on our website.  

What are the qualification criteria for international students? 

The qualification criteria for admission varies based on the type of course and the level of education chosen by the applicants. 

Admission to undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programs will depend on the applicant’s academic performance in their high school, bachelor’s and master’s level education respectively. Each course will have specific IELTS score requirements that must be met for qualification. 

Applicants are therefore advised to go through the entry requirements of each course displayed on our website for further information. 

What is the average fee structure of different courses in the university? Is it affordable for middle-class students of India? 

Tuition fees vary based on the curriculum and requirements of the course. However, we do understand the predicament of Indian families, as sending their children for overseas education can be an expensive proposition. We believe that talent should not be ignored just because of financial limitations. Our fee structure is globally competitive as we wish to provide the best educational standards, resources, and mentorship for our students. Moreover, we are offering unique courses and scholarship opportunities to which Indian students are eligible to apply.  

Do you provide any special scholarship/fellowship to the students coming from abroad? 

The Vice Chancellor’s award for Indian students caters to those who wish to pursue undergraduate or postgraduate courses. This is available for the near-future intakes of September 2019 and January 2020 and is an automatic £3,000 tuition fee discount. There is the Transform scholarship offered by the University that is applicable also to students from India. Applicants can access our website to gather information on deadlines and eligibility requirements. 

Apart from the scholarships offered by the university, applicants can also apply to Inlaks Foundation for scholarships. There are also the Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme, Chevening Scholarship Scheme, GREAT scholarships that are offered by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission, U.K. government and the British Council respectively. 

Any message you would like to convey to the Indian students? 

We have a vibrant Indian student community in Sheffield that works dedicatedly with us in making the incoming Indian students feel welcomed and integrated into SHU. We welcome Indian students to apply to Sheffield Hallam University and explore our wide array of specialized courses, innovative offerings, scholarships opportunities, etc. Our courses are designed to give students a nuanced and practical understanding of their academic work, through real-world applications, helping them gain professional experience while pursuing their studies. Students can reach out to our New Delhi office for guidance about applications, eligibility criteria, courses, living in the U.K., etc. Our student support services are among the best in the U.K. as we assist students in finding accommodation, work placements and with issues that go beyond their academic commitments. We look forward to addressing their queries and assisting them in their journey towards academic and career success.

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