There is a quite a lot of interest among students to make a career in Economics, thanks to the world-wide fame gained by Amartya Sen. It is indeed a highly academic field and if one has the talent for research and academics, it can offer good a career choice. In this feature we describe the career opportunities available in the field of Economics, both in India and abroad. We also describe the study opportunities at London School of Economics, as also the scholarships available, along with training requirements and job prospects.
Economics is a glamorous career which holds a lot of promise. It inspires interest among students, since the very basis of the profession is changing, thanks to liberalisation and e-commerce. Economists also command respect the world over. For the academically inclined, a career in Economics is promising indeed. However, it is important that a student goes to a prestigious national institute like Delhi School of Economics or an international institute like London School of Economics. Alternately, one should specialise in a branch like Business or Agricultural Economics. A plain BA or MA degree in Economics from most Indian universities will not qualify one to become an economist and one would have to settle for a lecturer’s job after clearing the UGC-NET, and even this field is somewhat saturated in our country.
To start with, one must do graduation with Economics as a Honours subject. Most colleges in the country offer BA in Economics. While doing BA, one must get into the habit of reading original papers by reputed economists and develop an interest in the subject. The idea is to go beyond the prescribed course, which is quite unimaginative in Indian universities.
At the same time, one must also discover one’s interest in the various branches of the subject. These are:
a) Business and Trade: Business Economics is fast catching up as a separate career. Several institutes today offer courses like the Master of Business Economics (MBE); the course at Delhi University is quite reputed. The job involves making the business strategy for a companyand undertaking investment or risk analysis. Profit and cost models would be required to be made. International trade issues and policies will also fall in the gamut of a Business Economist.
b) Banking and Finance: The growth of international trade has opened wide avenues for professionals in banking and international finance. Economic information is a highly valuable resource and companies spend a lot of time and effort collecting it. A multinational company would want country reports, while large domestic companies need to be updated regularly on the economic environment. Merchant banking, foreign exchange and companies doing large transactions require the services of an economist.
c) Government: Economists are needed by the government for policy making, forecasting and research. The candidate has to appear in the examination of Indian Economic Service or even the Indian Administrative Service to be absorbed in ministries of agriculture, labour,employment or others. The added advantage is that government secretaries get quite a few job offers from the IMF and the World Bank in what is known as a “revolving door” between the government and these agencies. One can move on to international fame through this route.
d) Other fields: An agricultural economist would be involved in agricultural production, marketing, land reforms and social welfare. Labour economists spot labour trends, policies, social insurance and the like. Financial economists are experts in the monetary policiesof various countries.
A student must choose the area of interest and do extensive reading in it, apart from research. It must be understood that economics is essentially an academic field and only persons inclined towards books and research should take it up.
London School of Economics (LSE)
One of the leading institutes of the world for the study of economics, it has various courses including summer schools which are for short duration but give an opportunity to interact with LSE faculty. There are three main courses that one can take up:
a) Executive and Professional Education: LSE and NYU Stern Business School have developed a new international executive education programme which is being offered jointly in New York and London. Currently, two programmes are being offered: Corporate Valuation Techniquesand Valuation of High Tech Stocks.
b) LSE Summer School: Courses are offered in the disciplines of Accounting and Finance, Economics, English Language, International Studies, Law and Management, enabling participants to make contact and exchange ideas in an international arena.
c) General Course: A wholly participant undergraduate year for visiting students. Each student is allocated a personal tutor in the LSE academic department, who acts as an advisor throughout the course.
Eligibility: Entry requirements at the LSE are a master’s degree for entry into a master’s programme; exceptionally the school may consider entry to a master’s degree if the candidate has a first class honours bachelor’s degree. In addition, the student should have a minimum score of 6.5 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). For TOEFL, the minimum score required is 250 in the computer-based test. For more information about these tests, please refer to the websites www.britishcouncil.org and www.toefl.org.
For diploma, the minimum entry requirement is a degree or equivalent qualifications and experience. For Master’s degree, a second class honours degree from University of London is acceptable, but for Indian students the requirement is first class honoursdegree. For M.Phil/Ph.D degree, normally a master’s degree is required.
Financial Help: There is a wide variety of funding options available for overseas students. LSE itself gives entrance awards to the tune of 1.4 million pounds. LSE also provides a number of major and minor awards upto full fees and living expenses. The department concerned may offer a scholarship on the basis of academic merit.
The Department of Economics guarantees full financial support for students who gain Distinction at LSE in M.Sc in Economics or Econometrics and who accept a place in the M.Phil/Ph.D programme. Students who are granted financial support are required to do some classroom teaching in their second and third years. Further, the LSE grants three scholarships covering full fees and costs for two years annually to students who have got admission to the institute. Two of these scholarships are awarded to undergaduate students on the basis of exceptional performance. The third scholarship is awarded to an undergraduate student who has completed the degree as an external student.
Several other schemes are also available. The Overseas Research Students (ORS) Awards have been established by the government for overseas students of outstanding merit and research potential. ORS Awards do not cover living expenses. The Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan is open to Commonwealth citizens for post-graduate study or research. The Rotary Foundation offers scholarships to citizens of countries where there are Rotary clubs. Details are available from the local Rotary clubs or from: Rotary Foundation, 1560 Sherman Avenue, Evanston, Illinois 601, USA.
Further, UNESCO fellowships are open to nationals of UNESCO member States or associate members of those countries where economic or social development projects are being carried out. Information can be obtained from UNESCO office in India. There is an additional source of funding too: every year the LSE nominates two or three students for the Department for International Development Shared Scholarship Scheme (DIDSSS), which includes fees, living costs and air fare.
For Indian students, there is an exclusive source of funding. The Indian Friends of LSE offer scholarships for students from India undertaking graduate programmes at LSE. Full fees are covered by awards from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Indian friends award a contribution to living costs. All enquiries should be addressed to: Awards Officer, British Council Division, British Deputy High Commission. Mittal Tower C. Wing, Nariman Point, Mumbai – 400 021.
For more details, contact: London School of Economics, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, UK. Website: www.lse.ac.uk
Scope and jobs
There is tremendous scope for economists in various organisations. In India the scope is limited to teaching, unless one is qualified in agriculture or business economics. But if one has an internationally recognised degree, one can look for placements with international banks, the IMF, UN and other such agencies.
Economic intelligence is another area which is acquiring a great deal of importance in recent years, thanks to rapid globalisation. As companies expand all over the world and countries open up, they require authentic information about opportunities and business environment, which are reflected in authentic economic information. The World Bank publishes World Development Indicators while the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) brings out the Human Development Report. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is a member of the World Bank Group set up to promote private sector investment in developing countries. Apart from these, the Planning Councils of many countries in Asia and Africa require trained economists who will help them get over the poverty and development challenges they face. There are many other independent research companies providing analysis on the global macroeconomy and financial markets, and all of them need economists.
Among the reputed companies gathering economic information is The Economist IntelligenceUnit (EIU), which is a division of the respected magazine, The Economist; Dun & Bradsteet, the world’s leading supplier of business information; Morgan Stanley, which conducts global research and provides country-wise analyses of economies and markets. In India, there are such organisations too, like the Tata Consulting Services (TCS).
The following companies employ economists with international exposure. Students desirous of getting more information may contact them.
European Central Bank, Directorate Personnel, Postfach 1603 19, D-60066, Frankfurt am Main, Website: www.ecb.int
International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Human Resource Services, 33 K Street, NW Washington, DC 006, USA. E-mail: IFPRI-HRintl@cgiar.org
Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, 10 Bedford Street, London WC2E 9HE. Website: www.robertwalters.com
Standard & Poor’s, The McGraw Hill Companies, Wimbledon Bridge House, 1 Hartfield Road, London SW19 3 RU.
The Economist Intelligence Unit, Recruitment Office, 15 Regent Street, London SW1Y 4LR. E-mail: email@example.com
United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Wbsite: www.undp.org
For jobs with the Indian government appear in the Indian Economic Services Examination. For details contact UPSC, Shahjehan Road, New Delhi. Website: upsc.gov.in