Mumbai: India has a place in the University of Oxford’s future plans. And not a small one at that. With comparatively low enrolment of Indian students, this leading British university is in the process of introducing new programmes and facilities that it hopes will draw in more Indian students.
“For me, it is counter-intuitive that there are three times as many Chinese students at Oxford as there are Indian students,” says Lord Christopher Patten, chancellor of the University of Oxford. “As a world-class university, we should attract good students from around the world. So the disparity in numbers from India compared to other places is surprising,” he adds.
Oxford, one of the most prestigious British universities, has also set up an India centre at its business school—the Said Business School. Prominent US universities such as Stanford and Wharton, too, have set up similar centres which help create a research focus on Indian issues at these academic institutions.
Oxford is also starting a master’s programme in South Asia studies which will interest Indian students who want to engage with the rest of Asia as global trade moves from a North-South axis to an East-West axis, it hopes. In addition, the university has started organizing India-specific events. The Oxford India business forum that was held in Mumbai on Thursday was one such exercise , also part of its brand building strategy.
Since we started the forum last year, we have seen an increase in enrolment of Indian students,” says Lord Patten. This year, the business school has 60 Indian students compared to last year when there were 30.
The BT Group and the University of Oxford also announced plans to establish the world’s first research centre for major programme management. “This project hopes to train students in managing major events and projects,” says Patrick O’Connell, managing director of BT Health and BT Global Services, UK. The centre will help Oxford offer a new M.Sc. course in ‘major programme management’, starting autumn 2008, at the Said Business School.
Major programmes, such as the Olympics or the implementation of infrastructure projects, are complex, high-value and long-term projects, for which there is shortage of skilled support.
According to a university statement, the BT Centre for Major Programme Management is intended to consolidate knowledge in this area.
“With India’s growing economy, we see a demand for such skills in this country as well. We expect this program to be of interest to Indian students,” Lord Patten said.