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India’s higher education institutions beckon foreign students

The Indian government plans to establish 20 world-class “institutions of eminence” in India by transforming ten public and ten private universities by pumping nearly USD 1.5 billion into them, writes Sanjiv Kataria

Jun 12, 2017
By Sanjiv Kataria
 
Summer in India spells lots of excitement for Indian students as they break for nearly two months of vacation - unless they happen to be awaiting the results of their school leaving examinations. Transitioning from school to college is an important step in their academic journey. For them, enrolling for a programme of their choice is preceded by intensive preparation, on top of scoring well to make the grade to a reputable college/university, whether in India or abroad.  
 
The students can choose to enrol for any from a range of programmes -- liberal arts, languages, humanities, social sciences, commerce, law, science engineering, medicine, architecture and design, or management -- at any of the 760 universities in India, comprising 43 central, 136 state, 122 deemed, 181 private, 15 open universities and 75 other institutions of national importance. 
 
Around five million students graduate each year from these universities and 38,948 affiliated colleges. In addition, 12,276 technical diploma schools prepare two million skilled technicians to the workforce.
 
The foundations of the Indian education system have been built around a strong legacy of academic rigour, a quest for knowledge and a contribution to the field of study by way of scientific inquiry, discovery and creation of intellectual property. These institutions have accomplished faculty, state-of-the art infrastructure, laboratories and libraries. 
 
Options for Overseas Students
 
The Indian government plans to establish 20 world-class “institutions of eminence” in India by transforming ten public and ten private universities by pumping nearly USD 1.5 billion into them. 
 
By creating these world-class teaching and research institutions the government is hoping to add to the might of its scientific research centres, such as the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai Inter-University Centre for Astronomy & Astrophysics, Pune and the Indian Institute of Science, Bengaluru.  
 
Overseas students can gain admission to reputed public universities and established private universities that follow excellent academic standards under the watch of a strong regulator -- the University Grants Commission -- which looks at the standardisation of curricula, faculty and institutional architecture. Many leading institutions of higher learning are actively hiring faculty with qualifications, research and experience in global universities. 
 
Other than the government-run universities, foreign students wishing to study in India have a host of options among some very good private universities in India. The quality of education in the private universities is stringently graded and tested by the government, according to the courses, pedagogy and facilities they have on offer.  A 2014 report of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), cited by Business Standard in 2016, says that India is gradually emerging as a destination for foreign students, particularly from the South Asian region. 
 
Nearly 42,300 foreign students, including 14,404 women, enrolled at Indian institutions in the academic year 2014-15. Students from Nepal, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Sudan, Nigeria, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Iran, Iraq, United Arab Emirates and the United States made up over 60 per cent of the students who come to study in India from 146 countries. Thousands of foreign students have already come to India and are studying at private universities, particularly in the Delhi- NCR region and cities like Pune, Bengaluru and Hyderabad. 
 
Indian embassies and high commissions liaise with the Ministries of Education in the host country to administer over 6,200 scholarships for overseas students each year.  Once the applications are received by the Indian diplomatic mission they are forwarded to Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) that administers several government scholarship schemes for overseas students in addition to facilitating and supervising the welfare of International students.
 
 Beyond scholarships, India offers foreign students unmatched advantages as it welcomes them in larger numbers.
 
* Choice of subjects -- from liberal arts to life sciences to classical dance and music. From modern medicine to Ayurveda and Yoga
 
* Widely spoken English is the main medium of instruction
 
* Students drawn from all parts of India offer unmatched ethnic, cultural and religious diversity
 
* Contemporary lifestyle with traditional/cultural valuesRange of scholarships
 
The General Scholarships of ICCR are offered to international students of nearly 60 countries from Asia, Africa and Latin America for undergraduate and post-graduate studies and for pursuing research at Indian universities. The scholarships cover B. Tech, M. Phil, Ph.D. and post doctoral programs. 
 
While the Africa scholarships numbering 900 are offered to students from all African countries, the Commonwealth Scholarship are offered to nationals of seven Commonwealth countries (Bangladesh, Canada, Guyana, Maldives, New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Great Britain). 
 
The ICCR offers year-long scholarships to overseas students to pursue studies in Indian classical music, dance, painting, yoga and sculpture. ICCR also has additional scholarships offerings for students from Mongolia and SAARC countries. Many additional scholarships are available under country specific Cultural- and Educational Exchange Programmes for pursuing undergraduate, postgraduate and doctoral programs. To help pursue programs in Indian traditional medical system such as Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy (AYUSH) scores of scholarships are available for members of BIMSTEC (Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation) and Non-BIMSTEC member countries.
 
(The author is a Strategic Communications & PR Counsel)

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