The country’s ministry of education, in collaboration with the ministry of home affairs and ministry of external affairs, has launched a centralised digital platform for global students seeking higher education in India.
“The SII Portal, a one-stop platform, will simplify a student’s academic journey in India,” said Dharmendra Pradhan, India’s minister of education.
“Guided by the National Education Policy, the SII Portal reflects our commitment to make India a preferred education destination as well as to blur academic boundaries for shaping a prosperous future.”
Prior to the platform, international students seeking education in India were required to apply separately to institutions but through the new platform, students can choose from 2,650 courses to apply to across 240 higher education institutions, making multiple applications and receiving offers all in one place.
The portal is securely connected with the Indian visa issuing system and will simplify previously complex visa submission procedures. After registering, students are given a unique ID which is mandatory for visa application.
Through the country’s 2020 NEP, prime minister Narendra Modi aims to re-establish India as a global hub of education and this platform is hoped to be a step towards this goal.
On August 3 at parliament house in New Delhi, government officials came together to launch the portal.
Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, minister of external affairs, said that the initiative will not just open doors for international students interested in pursuing higher education in the South Asian country, but will also help the country to “establish a strong international footprint of brand India in the education sphere”.
“From an Indian perspective, there is no question that the presence of international students will be to the benefit of domestic ones,” said Jaishankar.
“It will connect them more closely to a globalising world and prepare them better for the global workplace.”
In his speech, Jaishankar spoke from his own experience as a student, stating that having students from other countries studying alongside him created a better understanding of cultures, habits, traditions and thinking.
The portal also gives institutions the opportunity to stay connected with alumni, which is hoped to increase their affinity with respective institutions and study experience in the country.
“When such students go back to their societies of origin, they truly become ambassadors for India,” said Jaishanka.
“The fact is that a more diverse and multicultural environment will stimulate innovation and creativity. It will enable us to both learn of challenges beyond our borders and encourage us to share experiences thereafter.
“New India must be prepared to engage the world”
“New India must be prepared to engage the world, not just more confidently but also more knowledgeably. The expanded presence of international students will be very much in step with our greater salience in world affairs.”
Jaishankar highlighted the attractiveness of India as a study destination for international students, including its importance in times to come.
Pradhan cited the country’s balanced offering between affordability and quality education. It can simultaneously offer international students value-for-money and a transformative education experience, he said.
Diya Dutt, adviser at the Association of Indian Universities, told The PIE that the portal is “a great initiative to highlight the potential of India as an emerging education destination”.
“The website has relevant information that will make it easy for foreign students to plan their study in India,” Dutt noted.
However, she added that the portal should add information about health and safety, which she said are important assuring parameters which international students consider while choosing a study destination.
In a recent article for the Delhi edition of the Education Times, Dutt called for a more targeted approach to international recruitment from major destinations such as the US, if India is to become the key study destination it aims to be.
“[India’s] ability to deliver good quality education at a reasonable cost puts it in a unique position to become a destination country,” said Dutt.
However, she noted that while India enjoys the number two spot after China as a sending nation, the country slips down to rank 60 as a destination in hosting US students.
In her suggestion of measures to be taken, Dutt said that India must invest in creating interest in India among students on US campuses. She proposed increasing its number of sending participants in fellowships such as the Indian Chairs Abroad and Fulbright-Nehru Visiting Chair fellowships.
Such efforts will “enable collaboration with American universities and help in transfer of knowledge in the areas of skills development, training, study abroad programs for American students”.
Dutt also recommended the Indian government to make more scholarships available to attract American students to India and invest more money in exchange programs, as a lever to attract foreign students to India.
“Indian institutions should work out specific plans for recruitment, upgrade institutional infrastructure, develop campus-safety plans and prepare a cadre of counsellors who can handle issues of the health and safety of foreign students,” Dutt added.
Alison Barrett, director India, British Council told The PIE “India offers fantastic opportunities and institutions for young people to study at and the portal is a great initiative”.
“Greater mobility of students, academics and researchers between nations contributes to better quality and more relevant education, research and innovation,” she added.
“I have spent over 20 years living and working in India and have benefitted in so many ways both culturally and professionally. I am very keen for more young Brits to come and experience the modern India I have become so fond of.”