The Holi Festival, a religious 'festival of colours' for Sikhs in India - celebrated all over Asia. Source: Shutterstock.
The Holi Festival, a religious 'festival of colours' in India - celebrated all over Asia. Source: Shutterstock.

India is offering “lucrative fee waivers” and simplified visa processes via “Study in India“, a new higher education initiative launched this week to boost the country’s international student numbers.

A total of 160 higher education institutes are expected to be brought on board, with 60 already confirmed and an additional 40 expected by July to August. Through the programme, the government aims to bring in some 200,000 foreign students by 2023.

The programme will already be in effect in the 2018-19 academic year with an additional 15,000 seats available for international students and around 55 percent of the seats offering the fee waivers.

‘Study in India’ will also see visa requirements modified to make it even easier for foreign students to access higher education in India.

“It’s an open invitation to students all over to come and study in our institutions of higher education,” The New Indian Express quoted External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj as saying at Wednesday’s launch of the initiative’s website.

According to the 2016-17 academic year figures, there are approximately 47,500 international students enrolled in Indian universities but the government is keen to push this number to 200,000 over the course of the next five years.

The government has committed to spending an estimated INR1.5 billion (US$22.8 million) over the next two financial years, starting with the 2018-19 year, on the programme to promote India as a brand.

While around 500,000 Indian students pursue their higher education abroad, just 47,500 foreign students come to India.

“While we are number two after China in terms for sending our students abroad — just 1 percent of total students who leave their native countries to pursue higher studies land up in India,” a senior official in the Union Human Resources Development Ministry told The New Indian Express in an earlier article.

“We have felt that India has potential to develop as a major education hub in Asia but an intensive branding initiative was lacking all these years, so that gap is being addressed through this scheme.”

The campaign was launched by the Human Resource Development Ministry and aided by the Ministry of External Affairs and designed to target predominately students from 30 ASEAN, SAARC, African and West Asian countries.

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