NEW DELHI: The Union Human Resources Development Ministry is planning to launch short-term courses in yoga, Indian history and culture and languages such as Hindi and Sanskrit to attract students from developed countries as part of its 'Study in India' programme launched earlier this year.
The 'Study in India' programme - similar to initiatives launched by Australia, Malaysia, Singapore and Canada - aims to boost the country's share of international students and, subsequently, improve the global reputation and rankings of Indian educational institutions.
"We had earlier thought of targeting just 30 countries, mostly in Asia and Africa, from where we hope to get the maximum number of students," a senior official in the ministry said.
"But now a suggestion has come in a recently held brainstorming session to also target Western countries, from where students won't come for long-term courses but can do short courses that add value to their profile."
At present, only around 300-400 students in India are from countries such as the US, UK, France and other European nations.
"We also got an analysis done recently, which suggested that students are interested in learning about Indian culture and language and things that are a part of our tradition, such as yoga," another official said. "We might ask universities to design four to six-week short-term courses for students in Indian tradition and languages as this will expand our baskets of an offering," the officer added.
As per 2016-17 figures, there are a little over 47,000 students of foreign nationalities studying in India, but through the scheme launched in April, the government has set an ambitious target to take this number to 2 lakhs by 2023.
Through the scheme, the government had decided to launch mega publicity blitzkrieg in 30 focus countries-mainly in Africa, South East Asia, SAARC and West Asian countries for which Rs 150 crore is being spent in next two years.
But officials admitted that only about 2000 new students from outside India have joined Indian Universities even after the launch of the scheme.
As per the All India Survey on Higher Education foreign students come from 162 different countries from across the globe, most of them about 62 per cent-- are from SAARC, ASEAN nations and African countries.
The government, prior to the launch of the scheme, permitted a provision of 10 per cent to 15 per cent supernumerary seats for foreign students in higher education. This provision, however, remained largely underutilized.