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Study abroad: Popular courses in UK among Indian students

The UK visa regime is welcoming for overseas students, allowing them to to stay in the country for two years following graduation.

Perth offers a high standard of living, yet it is affordable at the same time.
Perth offers a high standard of living, yet it is affordable at the same time.

By professor Bill Russell

With more than 50,000 Indian students based here, India is the UK’s second-largest overseas market and these numbers are growing. Computer Science, Engineering, Medicine and Law are all popular subjects but the majority of Indian students come to the UK for a business education, my own specialist area.

Broadly speaking, there are three types of master’s business programmes to choose from in the UK. These are conversion, extension, and professional extension programmes. Entry onto each type of programme depends on qualifications, and the choice of which to study depends on where you want your career to go after graduation.

A route into the business world

Conversion degrees enable students from any undergraduate background to apply the skills they have learned in other fields. Many students have brains the size of large planets but are unable to demonstrate to employers that they have an interest in business and the business skills to drive firms forward. A conversion degree allows graduates to demonstrate both. At my university, around 60% of students on our conversion degrees come from a non-business background with the remainder having a business undergraduate degree. The ‘original’ conversion business degree is the MBA but only 6% of Indian business students in the UK choose this course. However, conversion degrees such as International Business, Management, International Marketing, and International Banking and Finance are the most popular subject choices at Dundee. It is important that the conversion programme you choose is structured with many taught skills and understanding modules and a short, focused project report or dissertation. This is because if you arrive on your conversion programme without a business background you need these taught modules to lean enough business skills to be successful after graduating. The programme should also focus heavily on employability with the opportunity for an internship built into the curriculum. Even better if the internships are offered in multiple countries around the world so that you get a fuller understanding of doing business across country borders and in different business cultures. All incredibly useful for your professional business life that will follow.

Enhancing your career

Extension programmes are open to students who have a relevant undergraduate degree for the master’s programmes. Popular examples include finance and accounting , and these programmes take your existing knowledge to an advanced level. These programmes will typically have around four advanced modules, research methods, a quantitative module and a larger dissertation. Please watch out for older extension programmes that have recruited poorly in the past and have simply changed into a conversion programme to aid recruitment without changing their structure as this will impact on your learning experience. Finally, a professional extension programme also requires a relevant undergraduate programme but these programmes are focused on students gaining a particular set of skills to achieve exemptions from a professional body. For example, students with an undergraduate accounting degree can join the MSc Professional Accountancy programme at Dundee and on graduation gain the maximum paper exemptions from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA). If qualifications from a professional body are in your career plan then these professional extension programmes are excellent and allow you to quickly gain exemptions from papers plus achieve a masters degree which is highly relevant to employers.

Reasons to study business

Overarching all of this are the reasons you are studying a masters in business. If one of the reasons is you want highly paid, exciting and interesting employment with the prospect of travel around the world then make sure the programme has lots to offer in terms of employability. The programme should have internships, links to the careers office of the university, distinguished lectures from business practitioners, opportunities to be involved with a centre for entrepreneurship and innovation plus a curriculum that is not just theory but also focuses on the applied and practical side of business.

There are many reasons why so many Indian students choose the UK for their university education such as language, similarities between the Indian and UK education systems, and a there is a long tradition of Indian students entering higher education in the UK. The UK visa regime is also welcoming for overseas students, with all now able to stay in the country for two years following graduation, giving them plenty of time to find a job, and accrue a decent amount of experience. Make sure that your programme meets all these career objectives that you rightly have for yourself.

The author is associate dean international and student admissions at the School of Business, University of Dundee.

Read also: Want to work in the UK? Understanding the point-based immigration system and points needed to be eligible

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