indian varsity foreign affair wing

Varsities to open foreign affairs wing to boost global outreach

In order to promote India’s higher education global outreach, the Centre has asked all Indian universities to open international affairs wings that could also help improve their global rankings.

The plan is aimed at making campuses heterogeneous (with both domestic and foreign students and faculties) bringing extra revenue and improving cooperation between Indian varsities and top universities in other countries.

“Establishment of an office of international affairs in each university will be an integral part of the internationalization of higher education in India,” higher education regulator University Grants Commission said.

This department or office will be “responsible for coordinating all matters” relating to existing and prospective foreign student and engage in “promotional activities and brand building campaign aboard”. They “will be single point contact for carrying out all collaborative activities with foreign institutions”, the higher education regulator wrote to varsities.

Lack of internationalization has been a constant problem for India—the rankings of IITs and other top universities suffer due to lack of international students and faculties. For example, the QS world university ranking 2021 has placed IIT-Bombay at 172 ranks. IIT-B has an employer reputation score of 74.2 (in a scale of 100) and research citation per faculty score of 53.1, but its score in international faculty criteria is 3.9 and in international students 1.6. Such low scores on internationalization drag the rankings down. By comparison University of Nottingham (UK) ranked 99 globally—its research citation and employer reputation are lower than IIT-B’s but in international faculty, its score was 91 and in foreign students 83.5.

While some Indian institutions are trying to mend the situation, progress has been very slow. A concerted policy approach from the regulator may accelerate this and fulfil India’s aspiration to be a study destination for foreign students. India currently has fewer than 50,000 foreign students, comparing poorly with Indian students aboard. Almost 200,000 Indian students are pursuing education in the US and 115,000 in Australia.

“Setting up a dedicated wing or office will professionalize the outreach, approach, collaborative engagement and finally offer better outcome of internationalization. We will have to make it a sustained effort and higher education sector will have to collectively and individually address this challenge,” said a government official who declined to name.

Courtesy: Live Mint

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