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The government believes that reforms suggested in the NEP will push more foreign students to study in India. HT
The government believes that reforms suggested in the NEP will push more foreign students to study in India. HT

Plans afoot to bring more foreign students to India

The govt’s aim is to boost the number to 200,000 from the current 48,000 students

The Union education ministry, along with IITs and top academicians, are exploring ways to attract foreign students to institutions of higher education in India. These include asking foreign faculties to develop short-duration courses; devising ways to showcase the return on investments; coordinating with Indian embassies; and joint branding and marketing of India’s higher education sector.

During an internal deliberation at IIT Kharagpur, higher education secretary Amit Khare called for increasing the reach to foreign students through online education and also suggested that foreign faculties’ expertise can be used to create short-term courses of one to two semesters.

For that, India can leverage foreign faculties’ network under the education ministry’s Global Initiative of Academic Network (GIAN) and Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC) initiative. Under GIAN, the ministry allows top varsities to invite renowned foreign academicians to come and teach at Indian institutions for short durations, while SPARC promotes joint research.

Khare’s idea was supported by IIM Bangalore director Rishikesh T. Krishnan, who observed that foreign students often opt for short-term courses instead of long commitments due to the uncertain factor of the cost of education, according to a note from IIT Kharagpur that led the multi-stakeholder talks on the issue.

Top officials of the education ministry, university vice chancellors, directors at IITs and academicians of global repute deliberated on India’s way forward on foreign students and how to sync this with the new education policy (NEP), to be rolled out next year. There are a series of suggestions to attract foreign students, which has been a long articulated aspiration of the Union government but remains far behind in achieving results.

India is currently home to nearly 48,000 international students, which it aims to grow to 200,000 over a period of time. Nepal contributed the most foreign students at 26.9%, followed by Afghanistan (9.8%), Bangladesh (4.4%), Sudan (4.0%), Bhutan (3.8%,), Nigeria (3.4%) and the US (3.2%). The government believes that a concerted effort and reforms suggested in the NEP will help change the situation.

Institutions like IIT Kharagpur, BITS Pilani and IIT Gandhinagar pointed to the need to market and promote India’s positives, including funding for foreign students. While IIT Kharagpur director V.K. Tewari said NEP 2020 has brought the opportunity to “promote internationalization both inbound and outbound, through semester away, credit transfer", Sudhir Jain, director of IIT Gandhinagar called for publicizing funding schemes available in the country and the need for promotional activities by Indian foreign offices.

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