Irish universities chart a passage to India
WHILE BOLLYWOOD is this week celebrating the launch of Ek Tha Tiger, partly filmed on the campus of Trinity College Dublin, education and tourism interests in Ireland were hoping the expected blockbuster will boost this country’s profile in India.
Starring Bollywood box office queen Katrina Kaif and India’s bad boy Salman Khan, the film kicks off when a spy codenamed Tiger (Khan) is sent to Dublin to observe a scientist of Indian origin suspected of sharing his research with Pakistan. Khan begins to fall in love with Zoya (Kaif), who is studying at a fictitious dance academy in Trinity, and from there the action moves on.
Off-screen, the movie has already generated plenty of spice. Think of a Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston-style on-screen reunion: Khan and Kaif are former lovers who split acrimoniously.
Moreover, in claims vigorously rejected by director Kabir Khan, the family of Ravindra Kaushik, a former agent with India’s external intelligence agency Raw, claimed the film was inspired by Kaushik’s life.
Given the hype and box office appeal of the two leads, the producers (Yash Raj Films) expected to attract an audience of over 100,000 million in more than 20 countries.
In a separate development, TCD set up a recruitment office in Delhi last month. Currently there are about 130 students with Indian addresses studying in Trinity.
“We want to double our number of non-EU students and obviously that includes Indians,” said Jane Ohlmeyer, professor of modern history, who was recently made vice-provost for global relations at Trinity, a new position created as part of strategy that will see TCD build relationships in territories from north America to Russia, Kazakhstan and central Asia, right into India, China and Japan. After North America, India is currently Trinity’s number two priority, said Ohlmeyer.
“The language of instruction is English, so you don’t have language barriers. We are interested in postgraduates – taught and by research – and in undergraduates, across the board. We are as interested in recruiting for arts, history or sociology as for medicine, health science or computer science.”
The objective is for Trinity to attract the best and brightest from wherever they may be and to increase India’s visibility on the Dublin campus.
Among the students targeted are those seeking the type of liberal arts education offered by Oxford, Edinburgh, Stanford and Kings College, said Ohlmeyer.
She added that such graduates are connected at the highest level to the Indian corporate and business world.
“The alumni network is terribly important,” said Ohlmeyer.
Of course, fees from overseas students are also a valuable source of revenue for Irish colleges, and having an international student mix is a factor in establishing top rankings.
Of about 200,000 Indian students who travel overseas to study every year, fewer than 1,000 currently choose Ireland.
However, while the UK and US have been tightening visa requirements, Ireland has loosened its requirements. Indian students are allowed work here in the year after they graduate.
Currently almost 30,000 international students are studying in Ireland. In 2010 the government launched a five-year strategy for international education, called “Investing in Global Relationships”, that aimed to increase the number of overseas students by 50 per cent over the following five years.
Enterprise Ireland manages Education Ireland, the umbrella brand under which Irish higher education and English language schools are promoted overseas.
Doreen McKeown, an education sector advisor with Enterprise Ireland responsible for the Chinese, Indian and Russian markets, said the limited number of colleges and universities in India, combined with the large number of Indian students who go abroad for higher education, presents an opportunity.