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Indian finance minister allocates £46.6m to create “world class institutions”

India’s finance minister has proposed to allocate Rs 400 crore (£46.6 million) to create “world-class institutions” in a bid to attract a greater number of international students. However, concerns have been raised over whether India is ready for such an ambitious campaign.

There are currently approximately 45,000 international students in India, according to government figures. Photo: pixabay

The Rs 400 crore is "more than three times the revised estimate for the previous year"

“India has the potential to become a hub of higher education,” Sitharaman told members of India’s upper house, Rajya Sabha on July 5.

The Rs 400 crore is “more than three times the revised estimate for the previous year”, she added.

“International students are attracted due to the reputation of an institution”

The government will also bring in a new National Educational Policy, and proposes to establish a national research foundation to “fund, coordinate and promote research”.

“I, therefore, propose to start the program ‘Study in India’ that will focus on bringing foreign students to Indian higher education institutions.

“We will continue to make concerted efforts to improve the performance of our institutions of higher education,” Sitharaman explained.

“The regulatory systems of higher education will be reformed comprehensively to promote greater autonomy to focus on greater academic outcomes.”

Additionally, draft legislation for setting up a higher education commission of India will be presented in the year ahead, she added.

According to the draft National Education Policy, approximately 45,000 (11,250 per year) international students study in Indian higher education institutions.

This makes India the 26th ranked destination for international students, the policy explains and accounts for less than 1% of the globe’s nearly five million international students in 2014.

“It is important to recognise the fact that international students are attracted due to the reputation of an institution, and thereby the first step must be towards creating such institutions,” the document contends.

To increase the number of visiting students arriving at India’s institutions, the draft policy suggests introducing “internationally relevant” education, Indian culture and language courses, and facilitating student exchange, faculty mobility and research collaborations.

Institutions also need to create additional infrastructure, such as residential facilities required to host international students and focus on providing incoming students with a safe, positive, and holistic experience.

“At present, most of the foreign students studying in India are doing so at private institutions because they offer the best student experience available, but in time the influx into Central and State universities must increase,” the policy document reads.

“It will help Indian institutions to improve their global rankings and diversify education in India”

It also states that ‘select universities’ – the top 200 universities in the world – will be permitted to operate in India.

If an Indian institution is ranked in the top 100 by both the National Institutional Ranking Framework and the National Assessment and Accreditation Council, it will be part of the Study in India initiative, a spokesperson told The PIE News.

“We are open to students from every country,” they said, and Study in India is focusing on developing countries – SAARC, Asian, African, and CIS countries, they said.

A  15% supernumerary quota for international students has been in place “for some time”, according to the policy document.

“These seats are for foreign students,” the Study in India spokesperson said, and they were not filled completely in 2018.

“We want to fill these seats completely, and it will help Indian institutions to improve their global rankings and diversify education in India,” the spokesperson added.

“We are in the second year of execution – we got a good response this year, and we are trying hard to reach out to more countries and more students. It will take a little time to build the brand but sooner or later it will work.”

Some have suggested that allocating seats to international students is detrimental to domestic students, in that there are not enough university places to cover the population of India.

One stakeholder told The PIE News that EdCIL, a branch of the Ministry of Human Resource Development mandated to attract international students, does “not seem to have budgets or solid strategies” on how to reach target students.

“It all seems a bit of trial and error,” the source said.

“They seem to have launched this very ambitious campaign without figuring out if Indian universities are really ready to receive and support international students.

“They seem to have launched this very ambitious campaign without figuring out if Indian universities are really ready”

“This needs to be fixed really soon, else it may lead to students not being very satisfied with the quality and standards that they find at Indian universities,” they concluded.

Masud Hasan founder & director of Applycourses and Study-India added that the current government is keen to promote India as a study destination and they are doing so by giving international students scholarships.

“We are working with many universities and agents across the world including India – most of them are private universities and colleges,” he added.

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