Anna Bashir

Transforming Indian Youths’ Studying Abroad Dream into Reality

Anna Bashir


University of Huddersfield India Office

When destiny has other plans for you, your plans don’t make any noise. Anna Bashir became a lawyer at a young age, an age when we want more money, name recognition, and fame to come quickly. However, despite having a law degree from the UK, her career as a lawyer in India wasn’t taking off as per her expectations. After a year of struggle, she joined IILM as an admissions manager for a year. But Huddersfield, where she pursued her law degree, was her calling. She moved back to the UK for training and took charge as the International Officer – India. Today, Anna leads Huddersfield India’s operations as its country Director. TradeFlock interviewed the young entrepreneur to learn her story and how she wishes to transform the education sector in India.

Can you highlight your journey in the education sector, and how did it begin?

I come from a small town in Jammu & Kashmir, and being a girl, moving to a foreign country for higher education was not valued at all due to societal pressure and lack of awareness. But thanks to my parents and their confidence in me, I not only went to the UK for higher studies but even worked there and started my enterprise here. After 3 years of having taken up the role of Regional Representative– India for Huddersfield, I presented them with a plan to start their office in India and registered a firm in India, and voila! They liked my proposal, and they agreed to invest in my firm in India and I was appointed as the Director for their India Office. 3 years have passed since then, and today, as the Director of the University of Huddersfield India Office, I oversee end-to-end operations here. During the early times of my career as Regional Representative, students lacked awareness about the processes and methods involved in going to the UK for higher education from small towns in India. However, things have evolved now, and we see more students opting to study in a foreign university. We at Huddersfield India help such students right from documentation to loans, post-study visas guidance and more. We also sign agreements with various partners in India who are linked with recruiting students for foreign countries especially UK and help training our partners in India with latest rules, entry requirements etc.

Can you highlight some of the important lessons you learned in your journey?

To be honest, I have picked up several important lessons and tried to apply them to my daily life. Here, I would like to mention two of them. The first is to start. Starting anything is the hardest part, but when you do, the next tough lesson is being consistent in your approach. Whether it’s education, professional, or personal life.

What was the biggest challenge you faced?

This may sound cliché, but being a woman was the toughest challenge I had in my town. Years ago, when I went to study in the UK, Indian society particularly smaller towns was still patriarchal, and women were not looked upon as highly as they are now. I had my fair share of battles, from moving to the United Kingdom to launching my business to everything in between. My work involves a lot of travel and working with several male and female associates. I somehow felt that being a female, I had to work harder to prove myself in every walk of life.

Do you feel the situation has changed for the better now?

Yes, it has. In fact, we see a lot of women’s participation across industries. Many of them are leading some of the world’s best corporations while running their homes successfully. The acceptance of women studying, leading their business, playing sports, and creating something of their own is constantly growing, and this is why a country that values and respects its women’s power is bound to move ahead. Though this is largely seen within metros and Tier I cities, the situation needs to get better in the smaller towns and villages yet.

What are some loopholes you find across your industry, and how are you mitigating them?

Fraudulent activities and traps to cheat deserving and undeserving candidates. This is a kind of black spot in our industry where, due to a few bad apples, the entire lot is criticised. Especially due to a lack of awareness in the smaller towns and cities, they fall prey to such agents who take advantage of them, create false documents, and send them to a foreign land. Imagine the kind of pain such students have to go through after landing in a different country where there is no one to help or support them. This happens mostly when students don’t do their part of the research properly before visiting an agency. Third-party payments are also turning out to be a huge bottleneck. As everything is digital today, students can make payments into direct university payment links, thus saving themselves from any such unpleasant situations. Such acts don’t just spoil the industry’s reputation but also that of India.

What is your role in transforming the sector?

I am contributing in my own little way. I help to filter out the quality and reduce the chances of fraud by a significant amount. I am also looking at hiring more staff and providing more employment to the local population to help students.

What plans have you scripted for yourself?

When I was in the final year of my law degree in the UK in year 2013, I registered a company out there and ran it for some time that dealt with export of Pashmina clothing from Indian side Kashmir and sell it in the UK market; however, it was only short lived as it did not work well for me at that time. I am now in the process of relaunching something similar to help take India’s best products to the world. For example, Kesar and Pashmina from Kashmir, Chandan from Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, and several others. With this venture, my goal is to provide employment to underprivileged people, especially women, and take their work to the world.