KARACHI: Several UK universities sent down their representatives for the study fair, but the Pakistani students missed those in the top league.
More than 30 universities, including the University of Warwick, University of Glasgow, School of Oriental and African Studies and Queen Mary, set up their booths at the UK study fair held at Sheraton Hotel on Thursday. The event provided a unique opportunity for students aiming to study abroad to mingle with the representatives and discuss their options face-to-face.
The event was organised by the Global Education Fairs and Conferences Britain (GEFC) in collaboration with UK Trade and Investment, a British government department that works with UK-based businesses to ensure their success in international markets.
Many visitors felt, however, the absence of top institutions, such as the University of Cambridge, Oxford, Durham, St Andrews, London School of Economics and Imperial College. “I would have loved to interact with the representatives of LSE but their absence is such a turn off,” complained Atika Murad, who is doing her A’ levels.
While the organisers claimed the visitors’ turnout was in thousands, university representatives failed to see that. For most of them, the turnout was average and not on a par with their expectations. For others, the experience was exciting.
Abdul Samad, who was representing Sheffield Hallam University, felt the low turnout might be due to considerable changes in policies for international students over the last year, which has shifted the students’ focus towards other European countries and Australia.
“Drastically receding post-education stays and limited employment opportunities for international students in UK have significantly cut down their number,” admitted Emma Schlesinger, who was representing the University of Portsmouth. “This has, however, not and will not affect genuine students.”
Liz Green of University of Manchester agreed but added that now universities and companies are collaborating to sponsor graduate level jobs to the students.
According to the representatives, most students were concerned about finances and scholarships. Imdad Soomro, a computer science graduate from Szabist, appeared a bit downcast when he found out that it was almost impossible for him to pursue his post graduation from UK unless he obtains a good scholarship.
GEFC director Fiza Ahmed told The Express Tribune that her organisation is a private body that keeps British universities in the loop with an aim to help connect international students with them. “It is not that Pakistani students are not having opportunities to study in the UK but most of them go to wrong institutions vis-à-vis their interests and inclination,” said Ahmed.
Welcoming the reps
On Wednesday evening, the British Deputy High Commissioner’s office was decorated with the lights to welcome the representatives of more than 30 universities from the UK, participating in the UK Study Fair 2013.
The deputy high commissioner, Francis Campbell, welcomed the representatives. “The UK Trade and Investment is delighted to support the Global Education Fairs and Conferences Britain in organising this study fair,” he said. “There are some perception issues regarding Pakistan and such events will help solve those perceptions.”
Campbell stressed that education is the only key to transform Pakistan’s future. “As more and more Pakistani students gain UK qualifications, they have a chance to contribute to the betterment of their country.”
GEFC’s Ahmed recalled that when she went to college, she realised how many students have no idea about admission procedures and university programmes.
University of Manchester’s country manager for Pakistan, Liz Green, told The Express Tribune that 200 Pakistani students are currently studying in the University of Manchester. She clarified that they did not want to steal Pakistan’s talent, but train students in a way that they contribute to the success of their own country.
“Most students ask about jobs,” said University of Portsmouth’s Schlesinger. “We have career centres in which we help the students make their CV according to the demands of the UK job market.”
Published in The Express Tribune, February 8th, 2013.