With the government allowing 100 per cent FDI in the education sector and introducing the New Education Policy (NEP), India becomes an attractive destination for foreign universities to invest, said Sharad Mehra, CEO- Asia Pacific, Global University Systems (GUS), an international network of higher education institutions.

In India, in higher education there are 3.74 crore students across 993 universities, 39,931 colleges and 10,725 stand-alone institutions. This leaves a gap between the number of students set to enter higher education studies in comparison with the limited number of educational institutions and universities. To fill in the gap, the role of private institutions/partnerships becomes the priority to retain young talent within India, he told BusinessLine .

Out of the 350 lakh students, in higher education about 600,000 head overseas. Most reputed higher educational institutions have limited seats against the demand. There is also the challenge posed by the ‘cut-offs’ in colleges of repute — these are so high that it is impossible for an average student to secure an admission.

Transitioning to a college overseas becomes a more attractive option for students because an overseas education gives an additional advantage of a work visa. This gives an opportunity to earn a higher salary than they can in India. These are key factors why students tend to prefer an education abroad, he said.


The NEP has already signalled that it wants to usher an era of brain ‘gain’ instead of ‘drain’, in India. Mehra said. “We need to strengthen our foundation and create new systems that incentivise research, innovation, support talent and perhaps explore the public-private-partnership model, he added.

Need for re-skilling

A serious emphasis is necessary for re-skilling existing talents in all fields, upskilling and opening new vistas, career-wise. Opening the window to foreign players, is a step in that direction and the significance given to digital education, vocational courses in NEP also signals the government’s seriousness about harnessing talent on every scale. What we need on an immediate basis is a well-thought strategy and execution of the NEP, in several phases. I think in a few months we will be able to reasonably evaluate our progress on ‘Study in India’, he said.

Post-Covid scenario

On preparing students in a post Covid scenario, Mehra said, the National Sample Survey and Periodic Labour Force Surveys have estimated that an overall 13.6 crore government and private sector jobs are at risk in post-Covid India. The future of teaching and learning is hybrid and jobs will definitely focus on human skills and people-power.

Analytical thinking, adaptability, emotional intelligence, communication, creativity and risk management are crucial skills that will help students become holistic professionals. Hence, pedagogies and curriculums must be aligned to support them, he said.