International delegations are usually the domain of academic leaders, but as a university famous for doing things differently, we sent a large delegation of our professional services staff to India for the first ever immersion trip.

Colleagues making the trip included, Deputy Registrar Fraser Keir, Faculty Manager for Science and Health Alex Seabrook and Senior Partnerships Manager Rachel Frost. They were joined by Senior International Marketing officer Emmi Russell, Head of Internal Communications, Emily Banfield, Corinne Bacon, School Manager, School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, Borislava Czapar, International Services Officer, Emma Aldridge, Manager of Essex Business School, Southend Campus, Vanya Campbell, Engagement Manager, Accommodation Essex and Hansa Bissoondeeal, Skills for Success Senior Tutor in Stats and Digital Skills. With a broad range of remits, the team were tasked with immersing themselves in the Indian educational experience and culture to gain valuable insights to help improve and enhance the experience for Indian students joining Essex.  In the last two years Essex has seen an explosion of interest from Indian students applying to PG courses as part of our new January start. 

Trip leader and Deputy Registrar, Fraser Keir, said: “With so many Indian students now joining us at Essex, we felt it was incredibly important for our professional services teams to get a feel for where our new students have come from. At Essex we are a family, and we pride ourselves in offering students a home away from home. Things like food, accommodation, learning styles, culture are all things that we value as part of the student experience and the learning we have gained from this immersion trip will be instrumental in how we hone the student experience for our Indian students.” 

Spending a week in New Delhi and Greater Noida, the team visited OP Jindal Global University where they met with a host of senior leaders including the Dean of Academic Governance, Dean of the Office of Doctoral Studies, Dean of Research, Director of International Affairs and Global Initiatives and Dean of Admissions and Outreach. As well as hearing about OP Jindal’s incredible growth rate, the team were treated to a tour of campus and met some of the brightest PhD candidates.  A range of collaborative projects were floated from joint conferences and publishing opportunities to student immersion trips and joint degrees. 

Alex Seabrook, Faculty Manager for Science and Health at Essex, said: “Meeting colleagues at OP Jindal has opened up a whole host of opportunities for joint working, from opportunities for students at Essex and at Jindal, to research in residence programmes for staff. It was great to develop ideas that will benefit students and staff from both our institutions.” 

The visit to the British Council was begun with the ceremonial lighting of an oil lamp which signified a positive new beginning and a strong partnership for the future. 

Staff from the University of Essex at The British Council in New Delhi.

Greeting our Essex delegation were Deputy Director and Regional Head of Insight and Engagement along with the BC’s Regional Marketing and Communications Manager. Each presented fascinating insights into the development of the Indian National Education Policy, India’s economic development and population growth. The afternoon session covered the UK-India relationship and trade along with updates on trade policy, the British Council’s work and profile and UK corporates operating in India. Next was a fascinating talk by an OP Jindal Professor on India’s colonial history, and a session delivered by an agent on the role of agents in the Indian university applications process. The day was rounded off with two wonderful presentations from University of Essex alumna, Garima Sood and Prabhjyot Kaur, who explained how the unique Essex educational experience has furnished them with the skills and driving force to forge new careers for themselves back in India. 

Fraser Keir with Dean of Academic Governance and Professor of Law and Dean of Research, OP Jindal Uni

Next it was onto Bennett University’s Noida Campus for a warm welcome from students who had prepared a beautiful marigold display and anointed the Essex team with their first ever teekas (red dots on the forehead). This was followed by a welcome from the Vice-Chancellor, and a useful Q&A with the Chief Operating Officer. The day was expertly organised and overseen by Bennett’s Head of international relations and corporate outreach. The Q&A style to the day allowed Essex colleagues to probe into the living and learning experience of Indian students, allowing the team to dig deeper into their own areas of expertise and take back valuable learning. A tour of the campus even included a visit to the fast-expanding campus accommodation and dining hall, giving a unique chance to see our Indian equivalents first hand. 

Fraser Keir receiving his teeka, a symbol of welcome.

The trip could not have been possible without the hard work of the Essex India team, headed by Sandeep Sharma, Head of Operations, International Regional Office Network and expertly supported by his team of regional international officers Kshitij Bhatia, Misbah Maqsood and Karanvir Saluja. 

A version of this blog has also been published as a story on The PIE news.