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IIT Delhi to fund international PhDs, aiming to hike global rankings

The Indian Institute of Technology Delhi is set to offer fully-funded PhD scholarships to international students to improve its global outlook and hike university rankings, the Economic Times reports.

The initiative is part of a wider push to attract international students to India, including Delhi where the Lotus temple is located. Photo: Harmeet9000/Pixabay

At the moment, IIT Delhi has only about 1% of international students in its student body

V. Ramgopal Rao, director of IIT Dehli, told local press the institution plans to keep the scholarship program running until it can rely on a steady inflow of international researchers.

“These are baby steps, but significant in the Indian context”

“International PhD students will enhance the institute’s research and development,” he said.

The funds provided to international PhD candidates will be similar to those given to domestic students – about 28,000 rupees ($407) per month and free accommodation. The institution is also reportedly forming a delegation to attract faculty from eastern Europe and Russia.

Commenting on the announcement Lakshmi Iyer, executive director and head of education at Sannam S4, told The PIE News that this is a small but significant step.

“These are baby steps, but significant in the Indian context where the educational institutions can now dream of operating in their best interests and ambitions,” she said.

The move is part of the institution’s future plans to strengthen its position after it was declared an Institute of Eminence by the Indian government at the beginning of July.

IofE’s enjoy greater autonomy and receive additional funds, on condition that they improve their position in globally recognised university rankings.

According to the The Print, the government’s investment on the six Institutions of Eminence over the next five years will be substantial, at about $1.4bn.

IIT Delhi will receive a grant of about $140m over the next five years, a statement on the institution’s website said.

Some of the funds will be used to strengthen the institution’s international reach, with plans to set up teaching and research collaborations with highly-ranked global universities and to attract and recruit more foreign faculty.

At the moment, IIT Delhi has only about 1% of international students in its student body. It ranks between 501-600 in the THE World University Rankings – 86th in the Asia rankings.

Its position is higher in the QS Global Rankings, at number 172. In both rankings, the institution scores low in ‘international outlook’ and for the diversity of its student body and faculty, although it is improving.

Iyer said that IIT Delhi’s initiative to offer scholarship to international PhD students will “set the tone” for how the Institute of Eminence status can help institutions improve their global reputations.

“By effectively utilising the autonomy guaranteed by the IoE program, IIT Delhi is setting the tone of how the status will help these elite institutions to make a step change and take initiatives to help them leapfrog ahead in rankings,” she explained.

“India is very far from becoming an education destination for foreign students”

She also added that significant developments on infrastructure, mainly accommodation, will be needed. The institution is indeed setting up a hostel facility for international students according to reports.

Asked how this decision can be interpreted in the context of the wider push to attract more international students to India – as evidenced in the recently launched Study in India campaign – Global Reach MD Ravi Singh told The PIE that this is a good start, but more work will need to be done.

“India is very far from becoming an education destination for foreign students. Having said this, IITs are world renowned and the scholarships will attract students from neighbouring countries or children of Non Resident Indians,” he said.

“Indian students studying at IITs are significantly subsidised by the government and so the scholarships for foreign students will work at making the courses affordable. It is a good step.”

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