President of Imperial College London. Alice Gast, on Monday said it was not true that international students are not welcomed at UK universities. “While some seem to believe international students are not being welcomed in UK universities, I can say this is completely untrue, at least at Imperial College London. We are working hard to make sure that it is not the case from our perspective, because it is still quite open from the policy point of view,” Professor Gast said on the sidelines of a CII-organised seminar on ‘Innovation and Research-Industry University Collaboration’.
She also said her institute has become more “proactive” in international recruiting after Brexit. “We are already realising that we need to be more proactive in our international recruiting, and we are doing that. Brexit suddenly makes it imperative. In UK, we are very weary of hearing about Brexit. Make no mistake, European students and staff are very important to Imperial, and they should be important to you too. Many of our most successful research teams comprise British, European and other collaborators, sometimes, as I mentioned, from India. It is important that the UK remains open and welcoming to students and staff from abroad,” Gast said.
During her speech, Gast said international collaboration between Britain and India was driving economic growth, increasing efficiency and environmental sustainability. “Collaboration is the key to success. We have very strong collaborations around the world. Over 50 per cent of our publications involve a co-author in another country. We have hugely successful alumni. More than 1,200 alumni live in India. We also have over 2,600 alumni from India living outside of India. We are inspired by their achievements,” she added.
Asked about the change in visa norms, she said: “We have new opportunities such as the streamlined visa for some of our Masters’ programmes. I have been a strong proponent of extending more of those types of pilot programmes. The process helps us in recruiting excellent students.”
She also said the Indian students currently at Imperial College London are bright and entrepreneurial. “We now have the Enterprise Centre for student entrepreneurs to connect with one another and receive mentorship and technical support. Our 300 current students from India are bright and entrepreneurial,” she added.
Deputy Director of IIT-Kharagpur S K Bhattacharya said preliminary talks are on with Imperial College London for an exchange programme, but nothing has been finalised.