Foreigners lack interest in joining Indian universities - report
Indian institutions are not fully maximising potential to be a global campus with diverse students. Source: Shutterstock

International students are just not applying to Indian universities, recording a drop in the number of enrolments, a new report reveals – a result researchers say reflects the unfulfilled potential of the country’s education system.

While India has seen a massive increase in the number of international students since 2000 – a mere 7,791 then – there were only 30,423 international students in 2014, according to the Association of Indian Universities’ annual report.

The figure is a far cry from the 4.85 million universities are allowed to enrol. This comes under the policy framework which enables universities and colleges to admit international students up to 15 percent of their total student cohort.

In contrast, India sends the second highest number of its students overseas, data from the Institute of International Education shows.

Why aren’t more foreigners applying?

“Lack of enough applications from international students was reported to be a major stumbling block as over 58.93 percent of the universities reported they do not receive enough number of quality applications from international students,” the report said.

Other major stumbling blocks to the internationalisation of India’s higher education sector, as reported by the institutions, include:

  • Difficulties in recognising equivalent international qualifications (26.79 percent)
  • Lack of residential accommodation for international students (22.32 percent)
  • Difficulties in obtaining visa for international students (20.54 percent)

OP Jindal Global University reported safety and security in India are other causes of concern, while Maharishi Markandeshwar University feels the difficulty in finding sponsorship is a major obstacle.

This means Indian institutions are not fully maximising their potential to be a global campus with diverse students as well as losing out in revenue.

“India has tremendous potential to attract international students from all over the world. Sadly, our universities have not been able to capitalise on this opportunity,” the report said.

While it wouldn’t be realistic for India to aim to get 4.85 million into its universities – data from the Institute of International Education recorded only around one million international students worldwide in 2015/16 – the report is urging for the institutions, regulatory bodies and the government to aim for a “more pragmatic 10 percent of the global outflow”.

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