Vidya Sanskar International School for Holistic Learning, Faridabad
This co-ed residential school which admitted its first batch of students in 2006 is one of the few institutions countrywide to offer the CIE academic curriculum from class I through to class XIIAlthough the great majority of educationists of the socialist mindset tend to disapprove of the new genre of capital-intensive ‘international’ schools characterised by excellent infrastructure, enviable teacher-pupil ratios and foreign examination board affiliations, quite patently the demand for globally benchmarked high quality school education within fast-track India’s new aspirational middle class is outpacing supply. This is why there’s no shortage of savvy businessmen and educators ready, willing and able to promote new international schools around the country.
One of the latest entrants into the international schools league is the Vidya Sanskar International School for Holistic Learning (VSI), sited in Delhi’s neighbourhood town of Faridabad. IIM-Calcutta alumnus, BJP stalwart and a former governor of Mizoram, A.R. Kohli, industrialists Jai Prakash Gupta of Henna Group and Shanti Prakash Gupta of RPS Group, and well-known educationist and CIE (Cambridge International Examinations Board, UK) master trainer S. K. Sahapathi joined forces to promote the Vidya Sanskar International School in 2006, billed as a "global school rooted in the Indian ethos". Kohli and his son Nalin provided the visionary framework, the Guptas finance and infrastructure know-how, and Sahapathi with his wife Anisha contributed the academic inputs.
Conceptualised in 2003, VSI is set on 10 acres in Bhopani village, Faridabad district. Promoted by the Vidya Educational Society (estb.2002), this co-educational residential school which admitted its first batch of students in 2006, is one of the few institutions countrywide to offer the CIE academic curriculum from class I through to class XII. Plans to introduce the IB (International Baccalaureate) diploma are also on the drawing board. The current enrollment of VSI is 300, with students from countries as diverse as the US, Tanzania, Dubai, South Korea and Thailand.
"Vidya Educational Society is an exemplary networking and pooling of talent initiative in the cause of Indian education. VSI is the outcome of our vision of a world school — offering an internationally respected curriculum but respectful of India’s cultural heritage and traditions for shaping tomorrow’s leaders in the global context," says Nalin Kohli, one of the four directors of the school drawn from the promoter families, an alumnus of the Fore School of Management, Delhi and a former newscaster turned education consultant.
To establish VSI as a genuinely outward looking K-XII international school, the promoters head-hunted Lawrence Fray, an alumnus of Oxford University, UK, a certified CIE trainer and assessor with extensive teaching experience in the UK, South Africa, and former principal of Delhi’s pioneer Sagar and Lotus Valley international schools.
"It is a great honour to serve as principal of VSI, a school whose vision is based on putting children first, as we pursue academic excellence in a strong pastoral framework. The principle-centred educational experience we provide will endow our students with the skills and character to excel in the modern world, to be a credit to their families, our school and to the wider community, and to live happy and fulfilled lives," says Fray.
Boasting an enviable teacher-pupil ratio of 1:8, VSI also offers parents the reassurance of its mentor system, under which every student is assigned a teacher as mentor with responsibility to nurture his/her child’s academic and extra-curricular education. Wholly aware that in the final analysis a school is as good as its teachers, and utilising principal Fray’s deep experience in education administration management, VSI has installed a sophisticated teacher recruitment and in-service training programme. "We are consciously aware that ultimately it’s the teachers who have to translate the school’s vision into reality," says Nalin Kohli.
In keeping with the now well-established traditions of international schools offering excellent infrastructure light years removed from traditional British-style boarding schools, VSI, promoted at an estimated project cost of Rs.40 crore, offers state-of-the-art academic and extra-curricular facilities including a well-stocked library, well-equipped laboratories, contemporary classrooms, auditorium, dance and art and craft rooms, music rooms, wireless internet access and other communication facilities. Separate residential hostels for boys and girls offer contemporary en suite facilities.
Likewise, the sports and games infrastructure includes facilities for athletics, badminton, basketball, chess, cricket, football, hockey, horse riding, lawn tennis, squash, swimming, table tennis, volleyball, yoga and meditation. In addition, cultural and scientific activities, educational trips and community service initiatives are also organised to provide students the holistic learning implicit in VSI’s full nomenclature. To this end career counselling, personality development, behaviour management, etiquette and personal grooming workshops are conducted regularly.
Despite an estimated 40 new genre international schools having sprung in the past three-five years in the national capital region, VSI has got off to a good start with an aggregate enrollment of 300 students including 70 girl pupils, the school’s Rs.10,000 per month-plus tuition fees structure notwithstanding. With a highly trained principal with international experience, a continuously trained faculty at the helm and an initial enrollment of 300 students, it’s not surprising that VSI’s promoters are optimistic about the future.
"Of the one million-plus schools in India, only about 10,000 offer acceptable education and of them perhaps 150 schools are the best. Our objective is to be a leader and benchmark school among the best. In the light of the encouraging feedback and word-of-mouth publicity we are getting from our parents community, we are confident about attaining our maximum capacity of 800 students within the next three years," says Kohli.
Admission and feesVidya Sanskar International School for Holistic Learning is a pre-nursery to class XII day boarding cum residential school offering the primary and secondary school curriculums of the UK-based Cambridge International Examination Board.
Admission is on the basis of a student assessment test in English and maths and parent interview before the academic session begins in July.
Tuition fees (per year)
Class I-VIII: Rs.120,000 for day scholars and Rs.270,000 for boarders
Class IX-X: Rs.150,000 for day scholars and Rs.300,000 for boarders
Class XI-XII: Rs.200,000-350,000
For further information contact the school at Village Bhopani, Faridabad 121002 (Haryana). Ph: 0129-2201095/96; e-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; website: www.vidyasanskar.com
University of Keele, Britain
With its pioneer four-year dual degree programme, Keele boasts the UK’s highest rates for graduate employment with over 92 percent finding work within six months
Featuring Britain’s largest integrated campus sprawling across a 600 acre estate in north Staffordshire, the University of Keele (estb. 1949) is internationally acclaimed for offering its 5,600 students a broad, inter-disciplinary education. Since its promotion 48 years ago, Keele has pioneered its four-year dual degree programme under which students graduate in two subjects after completing a foundational one-year multi-disciplinary study programme. It also offers a range of single honours degree programmes across the humanities, social sciences, natural sciences and medicine and the health professions.
Moreover Keele has one of the UK’s highest rates for graduate employment with over 92 percent of graduates finding work or enrolling in higher study programmes within six months of graduating.
Comments Janet Finch, vice-chancellor of Keele: "Our reputation nationally has been enhanced by a series of reports and league tables published by the national press during the year. A report in the Daily Telegraph based on HESA’s performance indicators placed Keele in ‘an Ivy League’ of 12 universities which had a graduation rate of 90 percent or more and one of the lowest drop-out rates in the country. Figures produced by the Times Higher Education Supplement acknowledge Keele as one of the fastest growing universities in the UK, while the university moved up 13 places in the Times Good University Guide and the Guardian University Guide."
Keele was the first new UK university of the twentieth century, established with degree granting powers in 1949 as the University College of North Staffordshire. University status, as the University of Keele, followed in 1962. Located centrally within the UK, in Staffordshire, the university is a major contributor to the local economy. With a turnover in excess of £50 million, (Rs.400 crore) and a total staff of some 1,400, the university generates around £40 million of business in the region.
Newcastle-under-Lyme. Keele is situated in a region of the West Midlands in north Staffordshire popularly known as the Potteries. The nearest town is Newcastle-under-Lyme (ten minutes by bus) and Stoke-on-Trent (including Hanley, a huge shopping hub) is just a couple of miles further. Newcastle-under-Lyme is a small but bustling town offering a variety of bars, cafes, restaurants, department stores, shops and a cinema, while Hanley is a premier stopover of the national club scene. The area dotted with stately homes and castles, also boasts a proud industrial heritage — it is here that Wedgwood, Royal Doulton and Spode china are all made. Moreover the cities of Birmingham and Manchester are only an hour’s drive away, while London is under two hours by train. The weather in Keele is rainy and windy with temperatures dipping to -5o C in winter.
Campus facilities. The University of Keele is set on 600 acres of landscaped parkland fields, woodlands, and lakes. Modern teaching and living blocks contrast with the 19th century Keele Hall and the Clockhouse, while hip cafes and restaurants buzz with student activity. Academic support is provided by the university library which offers access to a vast collection of books, reports, and articles supplemented by a wide range of digital resources, such as electronic books, full text online journals and bibliographic databases, as well as CD and DVD recordings.
Given its sprawling campus, Keele boasts perhaps the best sports facilities in the UK. The University Leisure Centre offers indoor and outdoor games facilities, a well-equipped fitness centre, an indoor climbing wall, courts for basketball, badminton, squash, netball, karate and aerobics. Outdoors there is a sand-based astro-pitch and 46 acres of playing fields for grass hockey, football, rugby, netball, tennis, cricket and two golf courses.
On the social and cultural fronts, the Keele University Students’ Union offers non-stop entertainment for students through the academic year. The Students’ Union building is situated in the centre of campus and houses five bars and two purpose-built venues: a nightclub and the ballroom. In addition there are over 40 active student societies on campus. Other on-campus facilities include restaurants and cafes, a supermarket, bookshop, newsagent, post office, bank, plus general physicians and a dentist.
Admission. For entry into all full-time higher education courses at universities and colleges in the UK including Keele University, students must apply through the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS). Students need to apply online at www.ucas.com. The institution code for Keele is K12 while the codes for courses at Keele are given on the UCAS website as well as its print directory.
The minimum eligibility requirements for admission into undergrad programmes is successful completion of Plus Two and English language fluency (overseas students whose first language is not English have to submit TOEFL or IELTS scores). However some degree programmes require specific eligibility criteria.
For further information contact Ms. Gill Coleman, international recruitment officer, Undergraduate Office, Keele University, Staffordshire ST5 5BG. Tel: +44 1782 584345; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.keele.ac.uk.
Accommodation. More than 70 percent of Keele students live on campus. The five halls of residence (Barnes, Lindsay, Horwood, Hawthorns, Holly Cross and the Oaks), all within walking distance of the departments and campus facilities, offer a range of room types, from single rooms sharing bathrooms and kitchens, to rooms with en suite facilities. Other facilities include bars, games and TV rooms, launderettes, a bicycle store, music rooms, internet access and car parking spaces. Moreover each hall has a student-run council that organises a range of events including balls, discos, films and sports meets.
Students also have the option of living off campus in private halls of residence (Stoke-on-Trent) and other private accommodation.
Degree programmes. Keele offers students a choice of over 700 degree courses — dual honours (two subjects combined) degrees and inter-disciplinary single honours (see box). The flexibility to combine subjects and study across academic disciplines is Keele’s unique selling proposition.
Scholastic options at KeeleThe University of Keele offers a wide range of undergrad (including several
dual honours degrees) and postgraduate courses across three faculties. They are:
Faculty of health: Schools of health and rehabilitation, medicine, nursing and midwifery, pharmacy
Faculty of humanities and social sciences: Schools of criminology, education, social work, sociology, economic and management studies, accounting and business finance, business administration, economics, health planning and management, human resource management and industrial relations, marketing, American studies, English, history, media communications and culture, modern languages, music and music technology, centre for international exchange and languages, law, centre for professional ethics, politics, international relations and philosophy
Faculty of natural sciences: Schools of computing and mathematics, life sciences, physical and geographical sciences, chemistry, earth sciences and geography, forensic science, physics and astrophysics, psychology
Tuition fees (annual): £7,700-11,000
Living expenses (per week): £149-182