More than 3,000 Nepali students went to UK for higher studies last year, and although student visa rules have been tightened, Britain is still a much sought after destination for education. All that may change with the establishment of insitutions like The British College in Kathmandu.
If Nepalis can’t go to UK colleges, it seems UK colleges will come to Nepal. The British College is offering a British education through its fully franchised partnership with UK-Leeds Metropolitan University and University of West England at its campus in Kathmandu.
“I wanted to create an opportunity for the normal Nepalis who still want to get the UK qualification, but in a much more affordable way,” said Rajen Kandel of The British College. Nepali born Kandel speaks with a British accent and it is his job to convince Nepali applicants that it is 10 times cheaper to get a UK education in Nepal than in UK.
Kandel went to the University of Greenwich in the UK 15 years ago when he was just 18. After establishing the South London College in Britain and dabbling in various other businesses, this is his first venture in Nepal. “I wanted to do something for the country that I was born in,” he said.
However, people still prefer a degree from UK even if it is more expensive. It is a matter of perception that a UK degree is more internationally recognised. The British College tries to change that by being practical, affordable, and ensuring the same quality of instruction, says Kandel.
The Nepali faculty is screened by university officials prior to ever teaching a class to meet UK standards. There are guest and visiting professors from UK as well. The British College currently started offering A-level, undergraduate and postgraduate level studies at its glaringly large building in Thapatali two years ago.
Many Nepali students go to UK because it is easier to get a student visa and stay behind. Some don’t even bother to enroll when they get to London and stay on illegally. But with Britain tightening the loophole, the number has come down to 3,000 from a peak of 20,000 in 2009.
“I personally have seen many students who went to the UK to study but actually wound up getting nothing. They wasted their time and they couldn’t get work,” said Kandel. “If I had the option of getting a UK degree in Nepal I would have done it myself.”
Kandel has his sights on not just Nepali students, but ensuring that his college is a centre of excellence that can also attract foreign students. At present there are six foreign students in a student body of 530.