In­dia’s for­eign stu­dent re­cruit­ment ‘abysmally low’

THE (Times Higher Education) - - NEWS - john.mor­gan@timeshigh­ere­d­u­ca­

In­dia’s re­cruit­ment of for­eign stu­dents is “abysmally low”, de­priv­ing its uni­ver­si­ties of po­ten­tial rev­enue, di­ver­sity and global out­look, ac­cord­ing to a re­port from the As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dian Uni­ver­si­ties.

This year’s edition of the AIU’s an­nual sur­vey, In­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion of Higher Ed­u­ca­tion in In­dia, finds that there were 30,423 in­ter­na­tional stu­dents across all the na­tion’s higher ed­u­ca­tion in­sti­tu­tions in 2014-15, com­pared with 31,126 a year ear­lier.

Given that there are about 5 mil­lion stu­dents study­ing out­side their home coun­try world­wide, that gives In­dia an “abysmally low” mar­ket share of 0.61 per cent, the re­port says, al­though it notes that num­bers have risen from 7,791 in 2000.

In­dian gov­ern­ment plans to se­lec­tively fund 20 uni­ver­si­ties with the aim of mak­ing them “in­sti­tu­tions of em­i­nence” in­clude the goal of in­creas­ing these in­sti­tu­tions’ re­cruit­ment of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents and aca­demics.

“In­dia has tremen­dous po­ten­tial to at­tract in­ter­na­tional stu­dents from all over the world,” says the re­port, writ­ten by Furqan Qa­mar, for­mer vice-chan­cel­lor of the Cen­tral Univer­sity of Hi­machal Pradesh and ed­u­ca­tion ad­viser in In­dia’s Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, now sec­re­tary gen­eral of the AIU, along with AIU con­sul­tant Veena Bhalla.

“Sadly our uni­ver­si­ties have not been able to cap­i­talise on this op­por- tu­nity. As a re­sult, they are los­ing out on the ad­van­tage of not only gen­er­at­ing some rev­enue but also of mak­ing their cam­puses di­verse and thus [of] cre­at­ing a global am­bi­ence.”

The dearth of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents also means that other na­tions are los­ing out on knowl­edge of In­dia’s “rich tra­di­tion and cul­ture” and its “mod­ern economy and so­ci­ety”, they add.

The big­gest sources of in­ter­na­tional stu­dents for In­dian uni­ver­si­ties are Nepal (5,480 stu­dents), fol­lowed by peo­ple of In­dian birth who live out­side In­dia (4,557), Afghanistan (2,732), Malaysia (1,357) and Nige­ria (1,202).

In­dia’s most pres­ti­gious in­sti­tu­tions – the In­dian In­sti­tutes of Tech­nol­ogy and the In­dian In­sti­tutes of Man­age­ment – do not fig­ure in the list of those re­cruit­ing the most for­eign stu­dents. That list is led by the Indira Gandhi Na­tional Open Univer­sity, Sav­it­ribai Phule Pune Univer­sity and the Ra­jiv Gandhi Univer­sity of Health Sciences, with names such as Christ Univer­sity and Lovely Pro­fes­sional Univer­sity also fig­ur­ing in the top 20.

In­ter­na­tional stu­dents are charged higher fees than home stu­dents, the re­port notes.

The sur­vey asked uni­ver­si­ties what they per­ceived as the main bar­ri­ers to at­tract­ing in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, gain­ing re­sponses from 112 in­sti­tu­tions.

The main bar­rier (cited by 59 per cent) was a lack of ap­pli­ca­tions from in­ter­na­tional stu­dents, fol­lowed by dif­fi­cul­ties in recog­ni­tion of in­ter­na­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tions (27 per cent), lack of res­i­den­tial ac­com­mo­da­tion for for­eign stu­dents (22 per cent) and gain­ing visas (21 per cent). The re­port does not state how many op­tions in­sti­tu­tions were al­lowed to choose.

The re­port sug­gests that fac­tors in low in­ter­na­tional re­cruit­ment may in­clude “inad­e­quate or poor phys­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties, lack of sys­tem­atic ef­forts to mar­ket our higher ed­u­ca­tion and also the per­cep­tion that the qual­ity of higher ed­u­ca­tion in In­dia, al­though good com­pared with many coun­tries, is still not world class”.

The re­port sug­gests a tar­get to in­crease in­ter­na­tional stu­dent num­bers to 500,000, ris­ing to 1 mil­lion “over the next 10 years”.

“For [this] to hap­pen, the higher ed­u­ca­tional in­sti­tu­tions, the reg­u­la­tory bod­ies and the gov­ern­ment, both at the cen­tral as well as at the state level, shall have to work in tan­dem,” it adds.

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