The 10th edition of the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) also revealed that there were 49,348 international students enrolled in higher education in the country in the 2019/20 academic year, only slightly up from 47,427 the previous year.
“The foreign students come from 168 different countries from all across the globe. [The] highest share of foreign students come from the neighbouring countries, of which Nepal contributes 28.1% of the total, followed by Afghanistan 9.1%, Bangladesh 4.6% and Bhutan 3.8%,” the report noted.
“The top 10 countries in terms of number of students come from also includes Sudan (3.6%), US (3.3%), Nigeria (3.1%), Yemen (2.9%), Malaysia (2.7%), UAE (2.7%).
“Except for [the] US and Malaysia, the number of male students coming from these top 10 countries were higher than the number of female students.”
A little less than three out of four international students in India were undergraduates, 16.6% were postgraduates and 9.1% were studying at other levels.
“Looking at the State-wise distribution, it can be seen that Karnataka has the highest number of students coming from foreign countries”
“Looking at the State-wise distribution, it can be seen that Karnataka has the highest number of students coming from foreign countries which is 10,231. Apart from Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh (5,089), Punjab (4,966), Maharashtra (4,599), Tamil Nadu (4,461), Delhi (2,345), Haryana (2,321), Telangana (2,261), Gujarat (2,227) and Andhra Pradesh (2,094) reflects more than 2,000 foreign students,” the report additionally highlighted.
Despite pushes by the government such as the launch of Study in India in 2018, the number of international students in the country has not changed significantly, increasing by just over 10,000 between 2013/14 and last year.
According to Study in India, “India ranked as the second-largest higher education system, home to 45,000 colleges, and 950 universities”. However it has traditionally been seen more as a source of students rather than a destination.
Although scholarships exist for students and initiatives have aimed to target prospective students abroad, particularly in Asia and Africa, critics have argued that India’s National Education Policy, which included measures to bring foreign campuses to India in a bid to internationalise the higher education system, offered little in provision for increasing international student numbers.
That said, despite the pandemic, Kerala University recently announced that it had received a record 1.042 applications for students for the new academic year.
“The maximum number of applicants are from Afghanistan and Iraq, and in both cases the admission is sought mostly for PhD courses,” said Sabu Joseph, director of the Centre for Global Academics at the university, adding that “most candidates seeking admission to PhD courses are college teachers”.
Study in India has also continued to market to international students. Earlier in June it ran the five-day Study in India Expo 2021 online featuring more than 45 local universities, which they said attracted over 4,000 visitors from 77 countries.
“[The expo] allowed students to connect with prominent universities and institutions over five days,” explained Sanjeev Bolia, founder and managing director of AFAIRS Exhibitions and Media, one of the event organisers.
“The time has come for all of us to work collaboratively in making India among the top destinations for international students”
“In order to harness the full potential of our wide Indian education network to attract international students, the time has come for all of us to work collaboratively in making India among the top destinations for international students… We have to do a collaborative effort in these difficult times.”