Universities' association mulls consortium to attract foreign students to India

AIU president G Thiruvasagam said a high-level committee has been formed as the first step towards forming the consortium.
Image for representation
Image for representation

CHENNAI: To attract more foreign students to India, the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) has plans to establish a consortium - the Indian Network for Internationalisation of Higher Education (INIHE), dedicated to the internationalisation of higher education in Indian universities. 

AIU president G Thiruvasagam said a high-level committee has been formed as the first step towards forming the consortium. The committee will chalk out the role and responsibilities of the consortium and the measures to be taken to ensure coordination among associations of universities of different countries, promote collaboration among foreign universities, and facilitate joint degrees and student exchange programmes. 

The AIU also plans to bring out a journal on public policy and research, which will have editorial experts from different countries. The initiative is necessary as India, despite having good educational institutions, fails to attract enough foreign students. According to academicians, hardly 50,000 foreign students chose India as their academic destination a year. Over half of them are from neighbouring Nepal and Afghanistan.

The AIU has already been taking measures to spread awareness about Indian universities among foreign students. "An admission portal for foreign students has been created by AIU, on which information about over 1,000 universities in India has been uploaded," said Thiruvasagam. 

Another portal for collaboration among member universities is also being developed by the association.

Academicians said foreign students face a number of challenges when applying for higher education in India, starting from searching for relevant academic programmes; absence of a standardised admission process; uncertainty about eligibility and equivalence of the degrees acquired in the resident country; concerns about fee, medical insurance, and safety; and lack of infrastructure.

"The consortium should act as the one-stop-centre to solve the problems of foreign students," said S Gauthaman, a retired professor. 

AIU sources said that INIHE shall commit its resources to quality research, capacity building, information sharing, and to advocate the benefits of internationalisation and build a better understanding of higher education internationally.

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