Iain Clacher is an Associate Professor in Accounting and Finance, and Pro Dean International at University of Leeds, UK. He is an expert on pensions and retirement saving and his work covers retirement decision making, pension fund investment, infrastructure investing, sustainable pension systems, trustee governance, and fund management costs and fees. He is regularly invited to speak at a wide range of leading forums, as well as presenting at national and international conferences, and he is a regular commentator in the media both on his own work and across all areas of business and economics. In an exclusive interaction with Higher Education Digest, Clacher talks about his views about Indian universities, education in the UK and many more.
• What is your opinion about the Indian education system and talent available here?
Having recently returned from visiting India I am very enthusiastic about the Indian education system and the talent of the students in the region. It is clear that the Indian education system is creating exceptional graduates and producing world-class research. The internationalization agenda is clearly important for Universities in India, as it is for us at the University of Leeds. I am delighted that my colleagues at Leeds University Business School (LUBS) are researching with high-quality academic colleagues in India. Indeed, during my visit, we signed a new agreement with IIM Calcutta and will be working on further collaborations that we believe will be mutually beneficial and enhance the standing of both LUBS and that of our partner institutions.
Having welcomed students from India for many years, we are well aware of their talent. We are keen to increase the number of high-quality students we welcome from India. They form an important and growing part of our diverse student population. We have also seen many of our Indian graduates go on to develop successful careers both in India and across the world.
• As the Pro Dean for International at University of Leeds, what is your take on the major differences between Indian education system and global studies? What should be the focus of Indian educators to reach the global standards of education?
I believe it is a great time of opportunity for Universities in India. With the upcoming new education strategy from the Indian government and the increasing internationalization targets, there are some interesting changes on the horizon. In the UK we are in a fortunate position to have many world-class Universities, and the University of Leeds we are proud to be ranked in the top 100 universities in the World according to the 2020 QS Rankings. India should be working towards getting more of its Universities in the world’s top 200, and I can see this being very possible with the strength and growing reputation of Universities across the country.
As part of growing this, research output with international collaborators is an important factor to further enhance the reputation of Indian Universities. This is also a key focus of global universities, and at the University of Leeds over 50% of our research is undertaken with partners from outside of the UK. This has helped us to a ranking of top 10 for research in the UK from the last Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014).
• With ever more business seeking to expand their operations across the borders, there is a rising demand for business graduates with a global mindset. At present, what are the biggest opportunities and challenges in the international business education sector?
A key challenge in developing a global mindset is being able to undertake international opportunities that give that global experience. At Leeds, we have been expanding these opportunities through the year in industry placements and study abroad opportunities at UG, and international study tours that combine lectures and company visits at PG. More recently, the return of the 2-year post-study work visa in the UK means that students will now have the opportunity to work in the UK after graduation. Such international work experience is key to developing a global career whether that takes graduates on to further international work or if that experience is brought back to India.
• UoL is recently named no 1 in the UK for Accounting and Finance. What are the opportunities for Indian students in Accounting and Finance at UoL?
We are very proud of our number 1 ranking for Accounting and Finance. We offer a range of options for Indian students, from undergraduate through to masters and research degrees. In our Accounting division, we offer a range of degrees covering topics including Accounting, Finance, Actuarial Finance, Banking, Investment, Financial Risk Management, and Financial Mathematics. As well as receiving excellent preparation for a career in a specific area of study, students will develop a strong base of knowledge and skills that will put them in a strong position to undertake exciting careers across business and management and financial services. It is also the other opportunities that are important in addition to the quality of the education such as the business societies that are run in the Union, the potential to set up a business through the SPARK programme, our access to employers, and the innovative and through-provoking talks by industry leaders and experts.
• Many Indian students go abroad each year for higher education in various educational institutes all over the world. Can you share with us an integral know-how on a student’s life abroad, especially in the UK? What are the pros and cons?
The University of Leeds is an international university that welcomes students from all over the world. We have over 9000 international students from over 170 countries. We have a team in India who offer extra support to applicants and offer holders, and an extensive international office in Leeds. The University and Leeds University Union work in partnership and together we are committed to developing independent, critical thinkers who make a difference to the world around them. We do this through our innovative programme of research-based education, our strong emphasis on extra-curricular activities and by providing an exceptional student experience.
• Tell us about the scholarships offered by the UoL to attract international students, especially students from India.
University of Leeds offers various range of scholarships including subject-related academic achievement scholarships for UK/EU students and international students.