UK is home to a good number of prestigious universities/institutions that are known for offering quality education, most of which are over a century old. University of Westminster is one such name that is 175 years old and pulls an enormous mass of students from all over the globe every year. A public research university in the UK, University of Westminster’s history dates back to 1838. Originally called the Royal Polytechnic, the university focuses on providing its students with practical knowledge of the diverse arts and branches of science along with theoretical knowledge.
In the year 2013, the QS Worldwide University Rankings placed the research and courses in Media, Journalism and Communications at the Westminster as number one in the UK, the second best in Europe and among the top 20 globally.
We caught up with Professor Geoffrey Petts, Vice-Chancellor, University of Westminster, UK, on his recent visit to New Delhi and asked him about the university’s partnership with various Indian institutions and if opening their own centre in India features in their recent future plans.
Below are the edited excerpts:
Q: Please explain in detail about University of Westminster’s strategic partnership with Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi. What are aspects included in the partnership?
A: At Westminster, Faculty of Media, Arts and Design covers the intersection of business, arts, media and technology through a broad and varied portfolio of taught and research programmes.
In India, there is a strategic partnership between Faculty of Media, Arts and Design and Jamia Millia Islamia’s AJK Mass communication Research Institute. The partnership has been sharing experience and expertise in teaching practice-based film and photography courses at postgraduate and PhD level. Academics from both institutions have also exchanged information on research practice in film and photography, particularly documentary practice; while exploring opportunities for future collaborative research projects.
Q: With reference to the partnership with Jagannath International Management School, will the students get a joint degree certificate on their completion of the BBM programme?
A: Under this partnership, Westminster Business School will offer business students the opportunity to study in London for the final year of the Bachelors in Business Management after completing two years of studies in Delhi. University of Westminster would be awarding a degree BA (Honours) Business Management to all the successful candidates who complete their studies in London.
Q: What will be their curriculum during the final year in London? How will this make a difference and what value will it add to their regular BBM programme at JIMS?
A: In the final year of their course at Westminster, the students would study a combination of modules including marketing, finance, entrepreneurship, human resources, economics and business.
Westminster Business School provides students with many opportunities to develop their career. We have strong links with the business and government communities and are located in the heart of London, which enables us to bring experts and practitioners into the classroom on a regular basis. Every year we welcome hundreds of students, researchers and visiting scholars from all over the world.
Q: What are the details of the collaboration with the School of Planning and Architecture? How will it benefit Indian students?
A: Westminster has been ranked second in the UK by the highly respected professional publication Architects’ Journal in their AJ Top 100 special issue.
Prof David Dernie, Dean, Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, is putting together an international exchange project called 'Latitudes': a post-graduate programme looking at creative thinking/designing for built and natural environments in an age of climate change. It aims at giving students real experience of different climates, focussing on issues of mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Partners are being selected by latitude/climate and we have selected SPA in New Delhi in India.
Students would have the opportunity to experience design in different climates by student exchange tailored to individual institutions. This would be augmented by on-line exchange – and we're looking at the design of 'smart rooms' to facilitate this. The agenda is simply that environment/environmental change is best experienced to be memorable, and thereby a lasting feature of the approach of graduates from this programme. This programme is unique in inspiring the next generation of students equipped to deal with the onset of global climate change. Institutions could of course engage in the exchange via a module within an existing programme. Outputs/responses may range from writing to visual media and from installation to architectural proposition; the work would always be cross disciplinary or team-based.
Q: Please shed some light on the past relationship of University of Westminster with India and Indian educational institutions.
A: The University of Westminster has been working on developing mutually beneficial and sustainable partnerships with Indian institutions for a number of years. We do not see this as a means only to attract students to study in London but to allow the partnerships to develop across a number of key areas, including research, staff and student mobility and capacity building for staff in Indian institutions. For example, we have been working with H.R. College in Mumbai for many years to help them to train their staff and to develop capacity in their teaching faculty. We have joint research conducted with Anna University with UKIERI funding to develop early warning technology for malaria in rural areas in India.
Westminster also has an agreement with VIT University, Vellore. Under this arrangement, students after completing 1 year of their Master degree at VIT can come to London to complete the second year leading to an award of Master of Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology.
The University has recently signed up a Memorandum of Understanding with SVKM’s Narsee Monjee Institute of Management Studies in Mumbai to facilitate discussions between the two institutions which could include student and faculty exchange and joint research. Westminster is also exploring partnership opportunities with institutions like CEPT University, Ahmadabad, MS University, Vadodra, MEASI Acedemy, Chennai to name a few.
Q: What are your views on establishing a campus of University of Westminster in India?
A: Many overseas institutions are looking at the developments with FDI with interest. At present, Westminster is not looking to open an independent campus in India but if it did it would look for a local partner to develop such an initiative, who understood the local culture, systems and operating environment. It is very clear that the hunger for education in India is very great and we would welcome changes to the current system which would allow more Indian students to benefit from better Higher Education in India.
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