NEW DELHI: Concerned with poor presence of foreigners in Indian institutes of higher education, the government has decided to launch a Rs 150 crore brand promotional blitzkrieg to attract offshore students.
The money will be spent in two financial years, starting 2018-19, under the “study in India” programme, the Parliament was informed on Friday.
“The Government has approved an expenditure of Rs. 150 crores for the ‘Study in India’ programme for two years 2018-19 and 2019-20 which will be primarily for brand promotion activities,” said junior Human Resources Development minister Satya Pal Singh in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.
As per the existing rules, there is a provision of 10-15 per cent supernumerary seats for foreign students, which will ensure that there would Indian students will not be at any disadvantage, the House was also informed.
The All India Survey on Higher Education 2016-17, released recently, says that there are just 47,575 students of foreign nationalities studying in Indian universities.
Though the government claims foreign students come from 162 different countries from across the globe, most of them—about 62 per cent-- are from SAARC nations and African countries.
Figures show that the highest share of students come from the neighbouring countries — Nepal (23.65 per cent), Afghanistan (9.3 per cent) and Bhutan (4.8 per cent). Students from Nigeria and Sudan comprise 4.4 per cent each, followed by Malaysia from where about 3.3 per cent students come to India.
B. Tech and Bachelor in Business Administration programmes in various universities see the highest number of foreign student enrolments.
The government data also reveal that the number of foreign students who sought visas to study in Indian institutes of higher learning, actually saw a decline in 2017, as compared to the previous year.
Officials in the HRD ministry conceded that while the increase in number of international students spells multiple advantages for the economy as well as classrooms due to the cultural vibrancy students from other countries bring, the country lags behind many of even its neighbours like Singapore and China.
“A fully revived Study in India programme therefore will promote our institutes in big way—something that we have not attempted before,” said a source.
Prerna Samarth, a Mumbai based education consultant said that at present less than a fourth of Indian universities—including top management and technology institutes--hire consultants to build international campaigns to entice foreign prospective students.
“As a result students from several countries are heading to destinations like China, Singapore and Hong Kong despite India offering education at lower costs,” she pointed out.