After launching programs like 'Make in India' and 'Skill in India', the BJP government is planning to launch 'Study in India' to attract foreign students to Indian educational institutions.
Directors of three institutions aware of the development confirmed to Business Standard that the Ministry of Human Resource Development has sought inputs from them for a possible scheme on 'Study in India'.
"The ministry has sought our inputs on how more foreign students can be brought to India. How can we address the concerns of foreign students and reach out to them to promote India as a foreign education destination," said the director of a higher education institution from New Delhi on the condition of anonymity.
As per the plan, the government would select a few universities that are fit to host international students as infrastructure is a challenge for many institutions in the country.
"In many of our institutes we need to upgrade the infrastructure. Our institutes reel under many challenges like not enough hostel rooms, medical services etc. All these issues will have to be looked into," said a professor.
As per a 2014 report of the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), India is gradually emerging as a preferred destination for foreign students, particularly from the South Asian region. The latest data available till 2011-12 shows that within a year, India received 5,625 more students, an increase of almost 20.43% from the last year.
In 2011, these students came from 153 countries. The number of countries from where the students are coming is increasing too.
"For both, our medical and undergraduates courses, we receive foreign students on our campus from across the world. We have suggested measures to the MHRD on how we can leverage this," said a professor from Manipal Univeristy.
For its undergraduate coures, Manipal University earmarks 15% of its seats for international students under the foreign/NRI category, which include foreign citizens, PIO Card Holders, OCI (Overseas Citizens of India) and Non-Resident Indians.
According to the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) 2011-12, Nepalese students were the biggest group of foreign students in India.
Of the total foreign students, nearly 19% were from Nepal, followed by (in descending order): Bhutan, Iran, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Sudan and Iraq. Even though, the share of foreign students from the top ten countries has increased in a year’s time, the rise is not uniform.
The top ten countries constitute 62% of the total foreign students in the country. The rise in the number of students from Nepal and Bhutan has been the highest, while the number from United States, China and Iran has declined compared with 2010?11.
India is also gradually emerging as a hub for tertiary education in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region as it has a relatively large higher education system and capacity to absorb students from neighboring countries.
For instance, India received the highest number (92%) of students in nursing from Nepal and the remaining were from 23 other countries. However, Afghanistan was the highest contributor for enrollments in commerce (13%) and the remaining students came from 74 other countries.
For MBBS, the majority of students came from Malaysia (52%), the United States (24%) and Canada (6%).
In 2011-12, India received 5,847 students for post-graduate studies as opposed to 25,283 students at the under?graduate level.