NITI Aayog plans to make India education hub

The think tank is planning an exclusive education zone in select cities to draw foreign students.
NITI Aayog. ( File Photo | PTI)
NITI Aayog. ( File Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI:  Worried with the declining growth in the inflow of foreign students, the NITI Aayog has set out to draw up an ambitious action plan for a giant leap. The Aayog has also floated the idea of a single authority to deal with the issue. Aiming to attract two lakh foreign students annually from 2023, the think tank panel will be working on implementing a proposal to create ‘Exclusive Education Zone (EEZ)’ in a few select cities, besides blending technical education with short-term vocational courses.

NITI Aayog vice-chairman Rajiv Kumar held a multi-ministerial meeting, which was attended by senior officials of Ministries of Home Affairs, Human Resources Development (HRD), Ayush, Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) and others to chalk out the action plan for 2023.“The brainstorming session has taken a grim view of the declining growth in foreign students’ inflow, which declined to 0.78 per cent annual growth in 2017-18 against two per cent seen till 2007-08. Over sixty per cent of the foreign students are accounted for by South Asian countries,” the concept note, a copy of which is with this newspaper, stated.

The brainstorming session saw convergence on the proposal to create EEZ in Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Chandigarh and Sikkim on the lines of “Exclusive Economic Zone”. The meeting listed out negative perception about security with headlines about assault on foreign students in the country as a top challenge.

The panel also took a grim view of the non-starter idea to allow foreign varsities to set up their campuses in India. “Foreign universities under the existing regulations need to register as a company, barring repatriation of profits, which has made setting up campuses in India as a non-starter,” added the note.

“Foreign students are largely coming for short duration courses. Indian universities can structure courses by blending higher technical education in engineering and management with music, Yoga, Art and other streams.

A brainstorming session with stakeholders will be organised in Pune on January 13-14 to prepare the roadmap to make India a destination for higher education,” ICCR president Vinay Sahasrabuddhe said. The brainstorming session pitched that the Indian-origin CEOs of top MNCs, including Sundar Pichai and Satya Nadella, have boosted India’s image and should be used for aggressive outreach in foreign capitals.    

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