In its efforts to boost internalisation of higher education, the UGC has directed all universities to set up an office for international affairs, in line with the National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 and the Promotion of Indian Higher Education Abroad (PIHEA) committee that was set up in 2004, to promote India as a global study hub.
“UGC’s capacity building initiative to promote ‘Brand India’aims at encouraging internationalisation, keeping with NEP 2020,” says Bhushan Patwardhan, vice chairman, UGC, while talking to Education Times. “Though several Indian institutions have collaborations with foreign universities, an increase in internationalisation will increase the intensity of research,” he adds.
Affordable degree courses Short duration courses under ‘Study in India’ campaign has attracted foreign students from developed nations, it is time to prepare Indian universities to host international students for long term degrees as well. “India can provide world-class affordable education even in STEM and a dedicated international affairs office can drive home that point. Just as innovation centres boost entrepreneurship across campuses, the international office would undertake a whole host of activities including international admissions and hostel facilities, foreign student orientation and faculty preparedness,” he adds.
He calls for student mobility on Indian campuses for economic, socio-economic and geopolitical reasons to “create a multicultural ecosystem that can give the stimulus for scholarship and innovation”.
The Key facilitator of research collaborations The UGC directive, says Rama Shankar Dubey, vice-chancellor, Central University of Gujarat, has come at the right juncture, though internalisation of higher education, can only be achieved “with upgradation of the curriculum as per the global standards”. “An international cell in every university can enlighten the foreign students about the quality of education being imparted while helping universities compete at the global level.” NEP 2020, according to Dubey, envisages promoting multidisciplinary education involving major and minor courses from across disciplines. The university’s international office can ensure more foreign collaborations.
“NEP 2020 mandates deploying the National Research Foundation at the apex level to monitor and mentor the quality of research in the country and promote collaborations with foreign institutions. The international affairs office can be a nodal centre at the university level to facilitate such research collaborations.”
This will encourage MoUs, faculty and student exchange programmes besides increasing foreign admissions. “Hopefully, with the worst of the pandemic behind us, foreign student enrolments through the Indian Council of Cultural Relation (ICCR) and the university’s international cell will go up,” says Dubey, whose university has international students mostly from SAARC countries, including Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Kenya to mention a few.