Education

India’s top colleges switch to online classes for overseas students

Annapurani V Chennai | Updated on August 25, 2020 Published on August 25, 2020

Experts from prominent institutes in the country said that they are working towards bringing out online courses for overseas students

Pandemic-induced travel restrictions have hit enrolment of foreign students in a big way

The enrolment of foreign students in higher education in India has always been dismal. In fact, it was only 0.13 per cent of the total enrolment in higher education in the country in 2018-19. This is despite initiatives such as Study in India to encourage students from across the world to study at universities here and to make India an education hub.

Covid-19 has only added to the woes. India has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world after the US and Brazil. The number of infections has crossed 30 lakh and new cases continue to surge in various parts of the country. That being the case, and with travel restrictions imposed to curtail the spread of the virus, foreign students’ enrolments in institutions in the country for higher education is bound to be impacted further.

“Each year, 25 to 30 overseas students will be in campus. This year, the students already admitted to (the) institute will attend online classes from their country. The students who come for short term and semester exchange will not come,” said a spokesperson from the Office of International Relations, IIT Kanpur, in an emailed response.

Meagre enrolments

The total enrolment in higher education in India was estimated to be 37.4 million in 2018-19, according to the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) report by the Ministry of Human Resource Development. Foreign students’ participation in higher education in India has only increased marginally over the past decade. For instance, about 33,151 students from abroad had enrolled in 2011-12, which was approximately 0.11 per cent of the total higher education enrolments in the country, then. Cut to 2018-19, though the number increased to 47,427, it was a mere 0.13 per cent of the total.

The top States for foreign students’ enrolment are Karnataka, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, which coincidentally account for the highest number of Covid-19 cases in India. Furthermore, the highest share of students from abroad comes from Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sudan and Bhutan, all of which have fewer infections than India.

Student exchange programme

Experts from prominent institutes in the country said they are working towards bringing out online courses for overseas students, and that mentors are also looking to monitor and supervise research students in online mode.

“As a part of our student exchange programme, every year, 50-60 students come from various universities across the world to study at IIM Indore,” said Himanshu Rai, Director, IIM Indore, in an e-mailed response, adding, “Due to Covid-19 and the resulting mobility restrictions, we have proposed to offer our lectures in the online mode to the exchange participants.”

“With regard to the travel restrictions, while these could definitely have an impact, higher education institutes might look at offering foreign students the flexibility to attend lectures through online mode like we are doing at IIM Indore. Although this is not the same as the traditional international exchange experience, the silver lining is that the learning need not stop,” Rai said.

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Published on August 25, 2020
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