It was last year in September that we had a chance to host a group of students as a part of United Kingdom India Education and Research Initiative. And on behalf of Tata Motors Lucknow, I was one of the employees assigned to mentor the group during their tenure with us.

United Kingdom India Education and Research Initiative (UKIERI) is being implemented with the aim to bring forth a unique initiative that strengthens the bilateral relationship between India and the UK and set an example of best practice in international cooperation. It is a multi-stakeholder partnership programme supported by Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Department for Science and Technology, Department for Employment and Learning, The Scottish Government, Welsh Government, University Grants Commission and All India Council for Technical Education. British Council, apart from funding the programme is also the delivery partner for UKIERI.

Approximately 200 students had been selected as a part of the program to visit India. Divided further into smaller batches, they traveled across cities and institutions to experience the culture, industrial revolution and the overwhelming rush we like to call India.

a tour of the trucks plant

One such batch came our way too. 

When I met Joe, Anusha, Andria, Jennifer and Tom for the first time they had a trail of questions ready for me. They wanted to know why I wore bangles, why some women had red vermillion in their hair or why some men kept a red dot on their forehead and most importantly why everyone around them looked so friendly and jovial.

And on our part we wanted to understand a system which when looked at one way is the place where our own education structure has germinated. The journey they have traveled perhaps is what our future beckons. Hence we asked them to keep a session especially for us where through a series of open house questions, they throw some light on their education system.

Salient points drawn from this exchange were:

  • The system is more about what people enjoy doing rather what sounds lucrative as per current market scenario
  • It is more flexible to switch between subjects or careers given a series of degrees you have acquired
  • Grades are more like ways to move up the ladder and not the hard ruled standard to decide a person’s merit
  • Teachers all through the education system inspire or motivate people to find their true calling rather than aspire to achieve a better percentile
  • Education is seen more as a way to groom oneself and enhance knowledge rather than the end all or be all of things

Some of us were left bereft of words post that session. We admired the way UK had designed its system to enhance a person’s intellect rather than ready them to be masters of one field. I could hear many (including myself) murmuring amongst ourselves how we would love to have a similar system in our country too.

Andria who herself belongs to Greece and had moved to UK for higher studies, shared a similar insight, “Greek education system is a lot like India’s. We too have a pattern of education we need to follow, at the end of which our careers are almost decided. Moving to UK, my mind has expanded to a lot of possibilities. Unspoken dreams of yore are now finding right outlets because of my decision to move here.”

Andria understanding out CSR initiatives

 The passion in her eyes and yes a look of relief while saying those words, propelled me to mull it over myself. And mind has no control over wishful thinking.

It flew to dreams undone, hopes lost and ambitions layered below responsibilities of life.

A writing course?” she asked.

I nodded.

“Of course there are many. And someone like you with a blog and a flair for writing they would be more than happy to have you,” her reassuring smile coupled with words of motivation instilled a tiny hope.

“University of Edinburgh, where Joe studies. I think that would be perfect for you. Anytime you need help, let us know. In this way we can get to be closer too,” and the idea was sparked then and there.

I went home, researched and bookmarked links. In the process one such link that came my way recently was British Council’s Knowledge Is Great. This has a consolidated understanding of the education and study programs in United Kingdom. And a one-stop site for students looking to study there. It caters from how to apply to after program advice and has an interactive platform for everyone to get better insight. Besides this also a special section on scholarships.

After some searches and advice from all quarters I zeroed in on a course from University of Edinburgh Napier.

MA in Creative Writing

A full time one year course. It seemed like the perfect mix of writing and language skills.

If you want to make a career in writing, this course is for you. You already have the talent and ideas – we will add the knowledge you need to approach your chosen market with confidence, originality and skill.  We take an innovative approach to the training and support of aspiring writers, focusing on three key areas: narrative technique, vocational skills and cultural context. Uniquely, the course also offers a dynamic range of cross-disciplinary options and commercial specialisms, including graphic fiction, screenwriting, creative non fiction and genre fiction.

The course deals with the finer aspects of writing. Grooming a person to understand how their talent can be leveraged to support a full fledged career in this field. It outlines that the technicalities of language as well as expression will be deeply dealt with and in process the art of writing will be honed. And at the end of it armed with this knowledge you would also have a masters degree to certify your merits.

Watch this video to get a better insight into the course

Jennifer enjoying a janmasthami aarti

The exchange in process brought the students and us closer in understanding each other’s cultures and lives. They were exposed to the complicated business handlings of our country and in turn we got a glimpse of ways of working their side. Though intended primarily to benefit them, the process helped us too  in getting more acquainted with their lives.

All of us out on a city tour

Beyond the professional mentoring, the programme itself puts a lot of stress on culture aspects. And so outside the throws of office we took them around city and functions to contribute to a better and more holistic experience of the country.

And it has been almost six months since they have left for their country, but through facebook messages and regular contacts we have been able to sustain the bond that got created through this trip. And yes promises of visits and re-visits have been made plenty. Hoping that the chance to take up my dream writing course helps fulfill those too.

Our last picture clicked before their flight

 Program in news:

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