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Trivandrum International School

In a state which has earned a global reputation for development through education, TIS has been promoted as Kerala’s first globally benchmarked international school

TIS vista: positive transnational feedback
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ited on a bright green 15-acre campus on a windswept hilltop on the outskirts of Trivandrum, the eponymous Trivandrum International School (TIS) is Kerala’s first globally benchmarked international school. It was promoted in 2003 by Oman-based George M. Thomas, managing director of the Saif Al Harasi Group of companies with the objective of providing world class primary-cum-secondary education to children of non-resident Indians (NRIs) and the growing number of IT professionals working in the city’s Technopark. TIS offers the syllabuses of the CISCE board and the Cambridge International Exam-inations board (IGCSE and ‘A’ levels) to 182 kindergarten-class IX students from 14 countries including the US, UK, Switzerland, Thailand and Russia.

"Despite Keralites having migrated in large numbers to foreign countries, especially to the Middle East, until TIS admitted its first batch of 72 children in 2003 Thiruvananthapuram (formerly Triva-ndrum) didn’t offer an upscale boarding school for children of NRIs. Mr. Thomas was acutely aware of the need for a school which would provide academic education of an international standard combined with Indian values. Therefore TIS has been carefully conceptualised with the help of Colombo-based international educationist Elizabeth Moir who has established three international schools in Sri Lanka. And now, two years on, the feedback we have received from parents of students from over 14 countries is very positive," says G. Vijaya Raghavan, a former IT professional and founder chief executive of Technopark, Trivandrum (1990-97), India’s first technology park, who is the honorary director of TIS.

To supplement the efforts of Moir (executive director and head of the school), Thomas and Vijaya Raghavan mounted a transnational search for a headmaster and signed up the Oxford and Durham educated Richard Hillebrand, whose curriculum vitae recounts two decades of international and domestic (UK) teaching. "As conceptualised, TIS is strongly rooted in the local community, and has a genuine commitment to making a reality of its international status. It is proud of its Indian characteristics, but at the same time it aims to be distinct in the manner in which it offers internationally competitive education to its students," says Hillebrand who is also designated director of studies (senior school) at TIS.

According to Hillebrand, the school’s academic systems are designed to develop the intellect of students and empower them to become life-long learners with an enduring appetite for knowledge. "Every study programme is designed to develop cognitive growth and the skills of reading, thinking and writing. Familiarity with ICT (information communication technologies) is developed as a core skill from the earliest stage," he adds.

The distinguishing characteristic of India’s high-end international schools is their remarkably low pupil-teacher ratio which guarantees personal attention and tutoring. TIS is not an exception to this rule. Its 182 students are instructed by a highly qualified faculty of 36 which translates into a comfortable 1:5 teacher-pupil ratio. Moreover, under the school’s British-style tutorial system every student is assigned a personal tutor responsible for his/ her academic and personal development with the administrative stipulation that no tutor will manage more than ten students.

Manageable teacher-pupil ratios and classroom strength (maximum 20), and the tutorial system facilitate special attention to slow learners. The school has constituted a Special Education Needs Team (SENT) to identify specific learning needs of children and to respond quickly to them. Special supplementary learning is provided with the help of materials and equipment acquired from Britain.

Hillebrand at work: tutorial system
Unsurprisingly, the TIS management is committed to the liberal principle that there’s more to education than academics. The school has introduced a host of extra-curricular activities through the promotion of its outward bound, creative and performing arts, drama, literary and sports clubs to transform children into well-rounded personalities. Sports options include football, volleyball, tennis, badminton, swimming and adventure sports (trekking, rock climbing, etc).

"In TIS we are committed to the belief that every child is gifted and it’s our job to help the child identify, explore and nurture this gift. Therefore, music, drama and art are part of the way of life here. We have set ourselves a simple goal: by age 11 every student should have had the opportunity to play a musical instrument, join a sporting activity, perform on stage and make appreciable academic progress," says Paula Hillebrand head of the student counselling wing of TIS.

Though currently the 36 boarders are a small minority, they enjoy excellent residential accommodation and facilities. For Rs.75,000 per year they are provided furnished and comfortable rooms (three per unit) with attached bathrooms offering hot and cold water, and are served by a professionally managed modern kitchen with a consultant nutritionist/ dietician. Day scholars are provided air-conditioned buses and free lunch and snacks.

Two years on and having impacted itself upon the national consciousness as the pioneer international school of India’s most literate state, the TIS management is set to compete for students and reputation with the best progressive schools countrywide. "In the new academic year 2005-06 the first batch from TIS will write the class X ICSE and IGCSE board exams. Our students’ performance in these examinations will provide valuable feedback on the extent to which our academic and extra-curricular programmes are on track. Constantly checking on how we are functioning and fostering continuous faculty development is a priority within TIS," says Hillebrand.

Quite clearly within a society which has earned a global reputation for development through education, TIS has been promoted in the right place at the right time.

Admission & fees

Admission. The selection process comprises an informal discussion with applicant students and class teachers. In higher classes applicant students are also required to write an admission test.

Tuition fees. All students admitted are required to pay an admission fee (Rs.25,000) and a (refundable) caution deposit (Rs.25,000). In addition variable annual tuition fees are payable (half yearly) as follows: kindergarten: Rs.100,000; classes I-IV: Rs.105,000; classes V-VII: Rs.130,000 and classes VIII-X: Rs.140,000.

Tuition fees include lunch and snacks, all books and special coaches for day scholars.

Residential charges. Rs.75,000 per annum per student

T. K. Devasia (Thiruvananthapuram)

University of Sussex, UK

Established a mere forty five years ago, Sussex is ranked among the top 50 universities globally for the quality of its academic programmes and research activities

Sussex campus scene
Sited on acres of rolling green downs of unspoilt countryside near the popular seaside resort town of Brighton, the University of Sussex is ranked among the top 50 universities globally for the quality of its academic programmes and research activities. In a table of the top 50 arts and humanities universities worldwide compiled by the Times Higher Education Supplement in early 2005, Sussex is ranked sixth in Britain and 22nd internationally. Among the top 100 social sciences universities, Sussex is ranked eighth in the UK and 48th worldwide. Moreover in the latest assessment of the standards of research in British universities (the Research Assessment Exercise), over 90 percent of Sussex staff and 29 subject areas were judged to be of national or international excellence. The faculty includes two Nobel prize winners, 13 fellows of the Royal Society, five fellows of the British Academy and a winner of the prestigious Craaford Prize.

These encomiums are particularly meritorious given that Sussex University was established a mere 45 years ago. It was the first of a new wave of universities founded in the 1960s, receiving its Royal Charter in August 1961. Forty years on, it is widely ackno-wledged as one of Britain’s leading teaching and research institutions, characterised by a number of academic strengths including research excellence, internationalism and inter-disciplinarity.

"At Sussex we offer plenty of variety in studies. We break down barriers between traditional subjects, allowing students flexibility and choice. We encourage intellectual breadth and self-reliance — skills that are highly prized in the worlds of work and research," says Prof. Alasdair Smith, vice-chancellor.

Currently the varsity has an enrollment of 11,733 under-graduate and postgraduate students, of whom more than 2,500 are international students from 120 countries.

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righton. A lively, friendly seaside town, Brighton offers a wide range of leisure facilities which could well have been designed for students! It is just about an hour by train from London and is well positioned for international travel. No town or city in the UK has more restaurants per resident than Brighton. It offers a huge culinary choice — Thai, Mexican, Chinese, French, Indian — all reasonably priced. Brighton’s other highlights include a cutting-edge club scene, a thriving artistic and cultural community, shopping arcades and a unique atmosphere of freedom and tolerance.

Surrounding Brighton is some of the most picturesque countryside in England. Cradling the city, the South Downs provide breathtaking views, tranquil walks and opportunities for paragliding, mountain biking, hiking or sedate picnics. Stanmer Park, contiguous to the university campus, has vast acres of open spaces, a large wooded area, two farms and a village street complete with a shop and traditional tearoom.

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ampus facilities. Set in acres of parkland, the Sussex University campus is entirely self-contained and offers excellent academic, social and sports facilities. The library houses over 750,000 volumes, 3,500 periodicals, electronic and audiovisual resources and an on-line catalogue. The campus is covered by a computer network. For international students the Language Centre provides language courses and open access facilities for 60 foreign languages, as well as courses in English and study skills.

Shopping on campus is good for basics. The Students’ Union runs several shops including a grocery store and convenience shop, selling everything from cheap stationery and goodies to excellent bagels. Campus services also include a health centre, a nightclub, a dentist and pharmacy. For meals, students have lots to choose from with self-service restaurants serving everything from coffee to a three-course meal. Cafes on campus are good places for lunch and are popular with students and staff.

Sports facilities include two large, multi-purpose sports halls, a well-equipped fitness room, a dance studio, seven squash courts, four grass soccer and one rugby pitch, six hard court tennis courts, a floodlit artificial turf pitch and a lifestyle studio offering a sports injury clinic, sports massage, acupuncture, relaxation and head massage, reiki and hypnotherapy.

Moreover the Students’ Union runs over 40 clubs and societies, in addition to hosting several social and cultural events during the year.

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dmission. For entry into Sussex’s full-time undergraduate programmes, all overseas students have to apply through the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS). Students can list a maximum of six university or college programmes on the UCAS form, giving appropriate codes for the programmes and universities of their choice. The code for the University of Sussex is SUSX S90. UCAS application forms can be obtained from any of the British Council offices in India or by writing to UCAS Application Requests, UCAS, Rosehill, New Barn Lane, Cheltenham, Glos. GL52 3LZ (e-mail: app.req@ucas.ac.uk, website: www.ucas.com).

The minimum eligibility criterion for admission into Sussex’s undergrad programmes is successful completion of class XII and English language proficiency. Students have to submit an IELTS score of 6.5 or a TOEFL score of 600. Some degree programmes may require specific eligibility requirements. However to overseas students who do not hold the relevant qualifications for direct entry into the first year of their chosen degree, the university offers special one-year foundation courses in the arts, humanities and social sciences. Applicants successfully completing the foundation year will automatically progress onto their pre-selected degree programmes. For further information contact Undergraduate Office (Admissions), Sussex House, University of Sussex, Falmer, Brighton BN1 9RH, UK. Tel: 01273 678416; email: g.admissions@sussex.ac.uk; website: www.sussex.ac.uk.

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ccommodation. Sussex University provides accommodation to over 3,000 students, most of which is located on campus, with the remainder (approximately 600 units) sited in Brighton and Hove. All varsity accommodation is self-catering, with cooking facilities in community kitchens. A typical university-managed room is curtained and carpeted and furnished with a bed, wardrobe, shelves, a desk and chair, a desk lamp and an easy chair. Most rooms have a sink and towel rail. Bathroom facilities are usually shared, although some en-suite housing is available. Students living in Brighton and Hove can take their pick from a wealth of city centre shops.

In the academic year 2003-04 the rents ranged between £56-64 per week for standard accommodation, £74 for an en-suite study room and £76 for a studio. However several types of privately owned accommodation is available to students who prefer to make their own housing arrangements within the local community.

Degree programmes.
Teaching at the university is structured around five schools of study (social sciences and cultural studies; humanities; science and technology; the Sussex Institute, and life sciences) plus the Brighton and Sussex Medical School and SPRU — the internationally renowned research centre for science and technology policy research. If a student is taking a joint degree or a degree with a minor he/ she will be registered in one school but her study may take place across schools. Research institutes are also part of the schools, encouraging inter-departmental collaboration and the opportunity for undergraduate participation in cutting-edge research projects. Moreover the university administers a study abroad programme with about 20 percent of undergrad students spending a year in Europe or North America.

Scholastic options at Sussex

Teaching at the University of Sussex is structured around five schools of study plus the Brighton and Sussex Medical School and SPRU — the internationally renowned research centre for science and technology policy research. They include:

Social Sciences and Cultural Studies. Anthropology, contemporary European studies, economics, geography, international relations and politics, media studies, social and political thought, sociology

Humanities. American studies, art history, English, history, linguistics and English language, music, philosophy and the Sussex language institute

Science and Technology. Engineering and design, informatics, mathematical sciences, physics and astronomy

The Sussex Institute. Centre for continuing education, the school of social work and social care, the Sussex law school, and the Sussex school of education

Life Sciences. Biochemistry, biology, environmental science, chemistry and psychology

Tuition fees range between £8,342-11,100 (Rs.6.85-9.10 lakh) per year

Living expenses (per week) (£) 165.00

NB £ = Rs. 82

Summiya Yasmeen

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