India aims for 500,000 foreign students by 2047

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India aims for 500,000 foreign students by 2047


A think tank run by the government of India has set the ambition of enrolling half a million international students in its universities before 2047. 

NITI Aayog’s CEO warned that Indian institutions must pick up the pace on embracing AI. Photo: Pexels

Subrahmanyam told delegates at the FICCI Summit that India must be more innovative

It comes as the NITI Aayog’s CEO, BVR Subrahmanyam, announced at the annual FICCI Higher Education Summit that the think tank was preparing a “vision document”, which will help achieve the numbers. 

“One of the important points in this includes that by 2047 we aim to target half a million foreign students in India.

“We should become the global provider of education by improving our quality, brand value and improve our rankings which are globally recognised,” said Subrahmanyam. 

Reacting to the comments, AIU joint secretary Kuldeep Dagar told The PIE News that the association is working in line with the ambitions of the think tank, as per the National Education Policy. 

“The NEP 2020 is dedicated to establishing India as a leading global hub for education. To realise this vision, a comprehensive set of tangible measures is being implemented. 

“These include allowing the establishment of branch campuses of international universities in India, a move aimed at attracting students from neighbouring countries who might otherwise choose to study in Western nations apart from retaining Indians going abroad.

“Notably, there has been a significant increase in the allocation of seats for international students in Indian universities, rising from 15% to 25%,” Dagar added.

Subrahmanyam told delegates at the FICCI Summit that India must be “more innovative” in its higher education sector, and focus on “revamping” the system so students are better equipped for industry positions. 

He also said universities would need to embrace AI in a “big way” to stay competitive with their counterparts in other nations. 

“Technology is going to blow up the higher education sector,” he warned.  

India has already moved to embrace technology when it comes to helping international students enroll, having built its Study in India portal in the last few months. 

Dagar also noted the regulatory reforms currently being implemented to “facilitate academic collaborations”. 

“The introduction of scholarship programs tailored for global learners, and the implementation of special initiatives designed specifically for neighbouring countries,” Dagar added. 

The comments came at the same time as FICCI launched a new report in conjunction with professional services giant EY-Parthenon, titled Transformation of Indian Higher Education: Strategies to Leapfrog –  a follow-up to its own, separate “vision 2047” report released in November 2022. 

The report encompasses all areas of India’s sector, with themes of quality education, industry alignment, R&I and inclusivity.

In terms of international education, it says to become a truly international hub, “it is essential for India to continue to collaborate with foreign institutions”. 

“[This includes] through student and faculty exchange programs, joint research initiatives, set up for international branch campuses, dual degree programs and increasing provision to ensure seamless integration of international students in the Indian HE ecosystem,” the report reads.

“We should become the global provider of education by improving our quality”

It also suggests taking best practices from Australia, with their dedicated national strategy for international education to “boost student experience”, as well as looking at US visa provisions. 

However, the paper warns that 6% of international students are concentrated at India’s top five private and public institutions. 

It recommends speeding up the pace of expansion to international locations to boost the sector’s globalisation. 

The report also notes that industry giants will partner with more international HEIs – as is happening in South Korea – and as such, it’s another way to boost internationalisation. 

Dagar remarked that accreditation agencies are already playing a pivotal role in internationalising Indian HE by “offering incentives to institutions that demonstrate greater diversity among their student population”. 

“This multifaceted approach underscores India’s steadfast commitment to attracting and nurturing a diverse community of international students within its educational landscape,” he added. 

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