Guest blog from our intern Sahra Hauer
First, I would like to introduce myself. My name is Sahra and I’m doing my internship at the Swedish Institute and the Study in Sweden team.
Vipul and I meeting up in Mumbai.
Right now I’m in India together with my colleagues. In Mumbai, I and Lisa met up with a friend of mine, Vipul. We got to know each other during his exchange year in Umeå. He is now back in Mumbai after finishing his Master’s degree program in Transportation design at Umeå Institute of Design, and we got invited to Vipul and his parents’ home for lunch.
During lunch we talked about how he ended up in Sweden and what he thought about it. Vipul told us that he knew 6 years before he enrolled in the program that he wanted to come to Umeå Institute of Design. According to him it’s well known among the target group in India, and one of the top universities in the world when it comes to design. They only admit approximately 8 students per year and the competition is tough. A Master from Umeå will ensure you a job when returning home.
In many cases, Indian families invest in the childrens’ education and send them abroad – expecting it to be a long term investment for the family. Vipul and his father, who is a professor, told us that the parents are 100% involved in the process of choosing country and university. In India, if the family themselves don’t have the possibility to pay for your education, it’s possible to take a bank loan for studying abroad.
How Swedish universities should promote themselves in India was another question discussed during lunch. Sweden is unknown in India, especially when it comes to higher education. Indian top students mostly go to the US, UK or Australia – countries with English as their mother tongue and hosting big Indian communities. This makes it easier, and cheaper, when it comes to accommodation and living costs. But Vipul saw possibilities for Sweden. What he found most valuable during his Master’s was the fact that students are expected to think critically and out of the box. You are able to develop your creativity, analyze and solve problems. Although, according to Vipul, the Swedish universities also need to present hard facts and rankings when it comes to marketing. “That’s just the way it is here” he said.
Lisa and I together with Vipuls parents after enjoying a long lunch together.
Our lunch lasted for four hours, the same amount of time as his mother had been preparing the food! It was really interesting to get a glimpse of how an Indian family lives and how they think about Sweden and higher education.