One way to improve global rankings of an institution is to attract international students in large numbers.
But the 104-year old Indian Institute of Science has not been able to get more than 10 students since it opened up full-time international admissions in 2010.
At present, the IISc has 33 international students on campus pursuing PhD and Masters programmes in the fields of molecular biology, physics, materials engineering, electrical communications and management studies. These students are nationals of Iran, Nepal, France, Germany, Sri Lanka, United States and Nigeria.
When it opened full-time international admissions to PhD and Masters programmes in 2010, five students joined the institute, followed by seven in 2011, 11 in 2012 and six this year. Three foreign students joined IISc in 2008 and one in 2009 for short-term courses (3-6 months).
With only four years of exposure to international admissions, the institute wants to review its admission process in order to get more overseas students. “We want to finetune the admission methodology in terms of the interview process, admission requirements, acceptance of Graduate Record Examinations scores and so on. Once the process has stabilised, one can think of increasing the numbers,” Prof Rangarajan said.
“We admit only very few students every year since there is a financial outgo. We pay them full fellowship on par with Indian students,” said Govindan Rangarajan, chairperson, International Relations Cell, IISc. The fellowship amount for international students is around `16,000 per month.
IISc director P Balaram believes the problem is not with the admission methodology, but more with the kind of commitment that PhD programmes require.
“Our programmes are mainly PhD, which is the largest strength of the institute. We have been trying to get more overseas students for the PhD programme and we also have a special admission process for them, but the numbers are still small simply because of the commitment. The problem is really with people coming to spend five years here,” he said.
Prof Rangarajan said the numbers have substantially increased compared to the initial years.
“One reason is the increasing awareness about IISc from other students. When they realise they can get good education in IISc, they are more inclined to join here. As the process stabilises and the numbers are hopefully increased in the future, there would be an impact on the international rankings.”
The institute will be open to international admissions again in December.
Nigerian national Olu Emmanuel Femi is pursuing a PhD in Materials Engineering with the Non-equilibrium Processing and Nanomaterials Group in the Department of Materials Engineering.
“I joined IISc in August 2010 and I consider the institute one of the greatest. However, I don’t understand why the institute is not providing more opportunities for foreign nationals. This is one reason why IISc is not as popular as it should be overseas,” Femi said.
IISc and Global Rankings
The IISc does not figure anywhere in the top 300-400 in the Times Higher Education and QS World Universities rankings.
Shanghai-based Academic Ranking of World Universities places IISc in the 301-400 rank group.
All these rankings provide weightage for international students.
For example, international students, staff and research carries weightage of 7.5 per cent in the Times Higher Education rankings.