Despite various government endeavours, India continues to score poorly in making India a popular education destination. Of the targeted 4.5 lakh foreign students only 31,000 turned towards India to seek higher education.
A report prepared by Association of Indian Universities (AIU) that works under the aegis of the Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry reveals that newly-established private universities and deemed universities attract more foreign students in comparison to public-funded universities.
While Maharashtra tops the list as the most sought after destination, pre-Independence era universities in Uttar Pradesh including Aligarh, Banaras and Allahabad also make it to the top of the list.
The AIU study reveals that of the 31,000 students who took admission in the academic session in 2013-14, 24.9 per cent of the students were admitted in Maharashtra alone, followed by Delhi and Uttar Pradesh. Gujarat’s contribution to foreign students remain as low as 1.38 per cent.
The report also raises serious concerns on the contribution of public-funded universities in catering to foreign students. Private and deemed universities including Symbiosis International University Pune, Lovely Professional University, Punjab and Sharda University Uttar Pradesh and Manipal University in Karnataka cater to more foreign students in comparison to any government-funded institution.
“It has to do with the facilities including hostels, food and good publicity that these universities probably draw more students towards themselves,” said Navid Khan, one of the former board members of Sharda University. Khan also informed that as a part of their marketing strategy, private universities send their representatives to various countries to publicise their universities and bring in students. The public-funded universities, however, do not make any such effort.
Students from 164 countries come to study in India, while Asian countries attract the maximum students followed by Africa, US and Europe.
Against the 31,000 students coming to India, 2 lakh Indian student go abroad each year. The HRD ministry in its various forums has raised concerns over emigration of students and has been vocal about bringing them back to India. Weeks before moving out of office, former HRD ministry Smriti Irani had tweaked the rules to allow Indian universities to get into tie-ups with foreign universities.
The Indian higher education sector caters to 33 million students. The government has targeted getting at least 15 per cent students, close to 4.8 million students from foreign countries. “Against the targeted 15 per cent we cater to only 0.64 per cent. There is a lot of potential in this sector. We have prepared our report, it is now for the universities and institutions to open avenues for foreign students,” said Professor Furqan Qamar, Secretary General of AIU.