Fully supported by their families who recognize the benefits that international education can offer, these young people follow an impressive tradition.
Nehru and Gandhi studied law in London and Cambridge. The author of the founding constitution of India graduated from LSE. And the first Chinese student to formally graduate in Britain was Dr. Wong Fun (Huang Kuan) who attended Edinburgh University Medical School from 1850 to 1855 and returned to China to practice as a surgeon.
Today, the mass flow of foreign students is one of the biggest phenomena in the world and, I believe, a powerful force for good. But this is not a one-way street. Our world is changing. 80% of container ships pass through the Taiwan Strait. The young and ambitious global South wants to enjoy health, prosperity and opportunity. Prospective UK students and businesses want connections in Delhi and Shanghai, Bangalore and Beijing.
The world’s universities are also changing. I read history at the University of Aberdeen when I was a student. Founded in 1494, the university aimed to train doctors, teachers and clergy to serve local communities, as well as lawyers and administrators for the Scottish crown. In 1497, she founded the first department of medicine in the English-speaking world. But it was also surrounded by walls that protected it from the outside world.
Over the centuries, the winds of change have blown. Great powers rose and fell. Wars came and went. Social changes transformed university life. In 1894, the first women began studying in Aberdeen. And the impact of his scholarship became global – John Boyd Orr won the Nobel Prize for University Nutrition Research and became the first Director-General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.
“While wealthier societies are aging, a third of the world’s population is under 20”
Now our planet is home to 8 billion people, putting unprecedented pressure on resources. We need new answers to the question of how to live together sustainably in the world. Our economies will have to adapt to climate change and new demographics. India and China alone make up almost half of the people on our planet. And while wealthier societies age, a third of the world’s population is under the age of 20.
But if many of our problems are global, so are the solutions. Age of Empire is over. The answers will have to be found by people who work together across national borders and with peers from other countries, backgrounds and perspectives – exactly the skills that international students who are lucky enough to travel the world inspired by education will acquire along with their diploma qualifications. , opportunity and hope.
This year my youngest daughter is preparing to study on her own in Aberdeen and I am delighted that she will not only be studying with Scots, but also with a cohort from India and China, Africa and South America, South East Asia and the European continent. Students starting their studies in 2023 are part of a new era in education that is defined more by connectivity than by ancient walls. My daughter will hear about other lives and ideas and share her own. Some of her international peers become lifelong friends.
So I am proud that my company Study Group is helping to prepare students from all over the world to enter my alma mater and many other great global learning communities. Once the pandemic is behind us, we are committed to helping many thousands more talented students benefit individually and collectively from studying at a great portfolio of research-intensive and modern career-focused universities.
We will grow if we do the right thing with them. And the world needs all the smart and globally connected young people it can get.
About the author: Ian Crichton is CEO of global education provider Study Group, which operates international colleges with leading universities around the world.