Mission: Attract students in India

​Several times each year, Chalmers employees travel to different countries to attract new students. Raghu Mokkapati, a postdoc at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering, went on a trip to India this fall.
"A very good experience", he summarizes.
​The trip to India took place during two hectic weeks in September-October. A small delegation from Chalmers visited five cities – Pune, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai and New Delhi – to attend fairs and meet students.

– In the first four mentioned we attended the Sweden Education Days arranged by the Swedish Institute and Business Sweden. In New Delhi, we took part of an EU-connected arrangement called EHEF, with 80 universities from all over Europe, which was a bit much. But the Swedish fairs worked out perfectly and the organizers want to arrange one in New Delhi too next year, says Raghu Mokkapati, who is originally from India himself.
– Back in India the organizers really did a great job in attracting the students to the fairs, by going out to universities to inform in person and arranging their transport to the fair venues. We really met a lot of students, and we were busy all of the time!

The students were interested, highly motivated and knew a lot about Chalmers, Raghu Mokkapati says. They asked about the strengths of Chalmers, and why they should apply for Chalmers instead of any other university in another country, like the US.

– And then they enquired a lot about the costs in Sweden. The expenses have often been the main thing holding them back, he says, and points out that the students should look into the possibilities of getting scholarships:
– A lot of the visitors at the fairs were in their second or third year of their Bachelor programs. They have plenty of time to get good results and apply for a scholarship.

The major aim of the trip was to advertise the Master programs that are being offered at Chalmers. But as it turned out, many of the students were already interested in PhD studies.

– It is quite competitive to get a PhD position. Therefore, we still recommended that they come here to do their Masters. If they are already here, they are more likely to get a PhD later, although it depends on their performance.

The Indian students may know about Chalmers, and Sweden, but they were not that knowledgeable about Gothenburg. A map came in handy, and the Swedish delegation had to answer frequent questions about the city – and also about the weather, of course.

Four Chalmers employees went on the trip; one alumni officer, two communication officers working with student rectruitment, and Raghu Mokkapati, who was the only researcher.

– The organizers in India also recommend academicians to join the trips, as this also gives a technical input to the prospective students. I would strongly recommend the experience to other researchers. We learn a lot from this too, he says.
– If we are not at site, we don’t get the questions and then we never find out if something is unclear or incorrect.

At night, the Swedish delegation met up over dinner with Alumni, who were also helping out at the fairs. One of them was also invited onto the stage, to present about everyday life at Chalmers as well as in Sweden.

Back in Gothenburg, Raghu Mokkapati is enjoying his time at Chalmers. His research is on graphene applications for the health sector, and his postdoc is divided between Chalmers and WellSpect Healthcare. After eight months, he is convinced that he wants to stay, for a long time.

– What is different about Chalmers and Sweden for me compared to other countries? I’ve lived and studied in six different countries before moving here. Research is a common game everywhere and people struggle to publish, but Chalmers provides something extra for the ones who are in to innovations and start-ups. Here you are encouraged to be innovative, independent and to start a company on your own, and that’s something special which I have not encountered before. You really get all the support you need. Also, I’ve been given flexibility at my work which is quite valuable for me to work towards innovation.


Text: Mia Malmstedt

Published: Fri 28 Oct 2016.