World of Possibilities: International Education and India

Educative allows diverse students from across the world, wherever they study – to unite the personal with the global as part of a community beyond borders

“If you don’t go out, you will never learn something new.” – Indian student, Patik.

In 2022 the population of the world passed 8 billion people. In 2023, India overtook China as the highest population nation on earth. By the time today’s Indian students are the same age, the global population is expected to be 9 billion and rising.

Global GDP in 2021 was $96.5 trillion Europe, North America and Australia combined made up less than half of that and last year more than half the world’s container fleet passed through the Taiwan Strait. For countries like India and China, the good news is they are in the ascendent and very much shaping in a 21st century new world order.

However, our world is at a tipping point. When we look across the globe, we see problems that go far beyond national boundaries and that demand global solutions. The old national ways of addressing problems are clearly inadequate to dealing successfully with the problems we face. Building walls or fighting for territory doesn’t work – just look at what has happened when China sought to isolate itself during the pandemic. And it most definitely doesn’t work in Ukraine, where we see tanks rolling across borders for the first time in Europe since WWII. Countries now are completely reliant on global supply chains and all of us need a planet to live on that remains inhabitable, so we increasingly find our fundamental interests are shared.

The world of 2050 will need a different approach if we have to survive and thrive. We need a talented future generation to be able to think in connected ways and to understand the perspectives of the rest of the world.

In the same way, we urgently need to see ourselves as world citizens. This is hard for people who grew up in the 20th century which was a very different time, but it is essential for the generations we will hand over to.

In the 20th century, Globalisation was a dirty word, an evil driven by commercial greed and empire, something that eroded and undermined national identity. In the 21st century, Globalisation is essential, but that doesn’t mean homogenisation. We need to ensure that we retain the rich flavour a planet full of cultural diversity and unique historical journeys provides.

India’s role in Globalisation

As we look to how these efforts will be led and delivered, it is clear to all that India has a huge role to play. The world’s largest democracy has direct experience of the challenges of development and, together with China, now makes up over one third of the world’s population. But what resources will its people have to understand and do what is needed next? We urgently need an education for all of our young people that opens up possibilities, that builds bridges not walls.

At the moment many Indian students are moving from the global South to the Northern Hemisphere to access international education opportunities. Last year 1.09 million Indian students travelled overseas to study in 85 countries, mostly anglophone nations. In fiscal year 2022 UK issued 117,965 study visas to Indian nationals, a 215 per cent increase which more than doubled the size of UK Indian student population.

But the relationship between India and the rest of the world is changing. 75 years ago, India was just beginning its journey as an independent nation and Britain was still winding down its Age of Empire. It was in that very different context that the author of India’s first constitution and its founding political fathers Mahatma Gandhi and Nehru travelled to London and Cambridge to study British Law.

Today, things are very different. Britain is not the global power it once was and in USA, which started the 21st century as the world’s most global power, Indians lead some of its most successful companies. The Britain today Indian students travel to is also a multicultural society, including many British Indians who have made the country their home for several generations. Indeed UK has its first ever Indian heritage Prime-Minister who celebrated Diwali by lighting diyas in Downing Street, a sight unthinkable 75 years ago as India claimed its own future as a nation.

Now though we need not only independence but interdependence, including and especially in education. India has superb universities and the global institutions of the future are as likely to be in Hyderabad, Delhi or Madras as London, Oxford and Cambridge. Bangalore, Bombay, Delhi and Madras are all now in the QS top 250 and more will follow. Wherever education happens, the key thing is that students are exposed to ideas and perspectives that broaden their horizons, equipping them for success in an increasingly global world.

When international cooperation works it benefits the whole as we saw during Covid. It was a UK-India scientific partnership which produced the Oxford-Astra Zeneca Covid vaccines which saved millions of lives around the world. In London it was an Indian born President of the Royal Society, Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, who advised government while leading a lab of global scientific brilliance in Cambridge. India today benefits from high levels of foreign investment from all over the world which has doubled in the last decade making it the 8th highest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) on the planet. This India relies on to fuel its growth, currently expected to be 6.5 per cent despite global economic turmoil.

The power of education to make a better world is the driving vision of global leaders as they work with universities across the world to prepare students for international academic success and rewarding careers through life-changing learning. This is something our greatest leaders have understood taking learnings from greatest leader, for instance -from his place of struggle in South Africa, Nelson Mandela called Education ‘the greatest power to change the world’. And Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Money invested in the promotion of learning gives a tenfold return to the people even as a seed sown in good soil returns a luxuriant crop.”

For that reason it is belived we are at a really important moment for international education for Indian students and for the world. We can’t solve our problems in old ways. We need students and graduates with a new global mindset who understand and know how to work with diverse nationalities and who bring something completely new to the party working as part of cross cultural teams or driving forward themselves with global knowledge and awareness.

That asks a lot of the students themselves. Leaving the home you have known to become a student always involves a journey of discovery. Educative allows diverse students from across the world, wherever they study – to unite the personal with the global as part of a community beyond borders.

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