Internationalisation of Indian Education

Internationalisation of education in simple terms can be referred to as cross infiltration of students across international borders. The basic building block of humanity can be attributed to education thus making it the grass root requirement for living. Thereby the requirement of the hour is not just imparting the long existing system into our kid’s brain but rather making the future generation compatible enough with the ever growing or I must say the global world. There comes the scene of internationalisation of education which would lead to an ever growing influx of brains into our education system which will help us to enhance the human capital and in turn the economy in a very positive way. This can turn out to be the sole strata which will form the base of the diversified audience sitting to gain and grasp. 

Turning the parameters of gauging the capacity of pupils will be a tedious task but the outcome it comes with will take our education system to a level which is at par with what the world is demanding at present.  If we pay closer attention to the present day scenario it is more the other way round which means that cross border influx is negligible as compared to the statistics of data showing the intent of Indian students wanting to go abroad for a better opportunity in terms of what education should look like. And this gives us a broader picture of where exactly we as a system are lagging behind. It is not just about the quality of education which matters for the global platform. But it is rather the quality of the system which is the sole provisioner of the education as it literally means to be is what matters the most. 

Thus, as a matter of fact, the things that should concern us for drawing greater attention includes the list of basics which should be revised from the very root. This includes Infrastructure, policies support, research capabilities, use of technology and student and program mobility. The biggest challenge which can adversely impact the landscape of this system is the infrastructure which should match the requisite mindset of the academic world.

Present Scenario

India has already played a predominant role in providing quality higher education in the South Asian region. Also, India already has the third largest higher education system in the world when enrolment is taken as a comparison parameter. Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in higher education—the number of individuals participating in higher education as a percentage of the college-age population is currently estimated at 24.3 per cent (MHRD, GOI, 2016). The government’s objective is to take this achievement to 30 per cent by the year 2020. Various estimates indicate that achieving this would need the establishment of additional 1,500 higher education institutions (HEIs).  

The role of Indian engineering and management institutions as skill providers in parts of Asia and Africa has already outshined in the global world by providing competitive workforce which is indeed the utmost requirement to quench the technical needs of the hour.  And the most important aspect is the cost-effective education that stands at the fraction of what the western providers have to offer. Thereby further strengthening the country’s capability to stand host for a future provider of higher education. Whilst the reforms in higher education in India is already a much-debated topic what is however required is the systemic thinking on how reforms could contribute to providing a specific focus towards internationalisation. And thus, such reforms would also render a balance with regard to net outflow and inflow of valuable foreign exchange resources in this regard.

If we go with the data to be precise as per 2017-18 calculation, we have a total base of as low as 46144 international students in India which is way less than the Indian base abroad. Moreover, if we go with the best institution statistics only 40 foreign nationals are presently working as academic professionals in 23 IITs across India. Which attributes to be only 1% of total faculty members. Also when it comes to the globally accorded institutions it is hard to find any of our higher education institutes making it to the top list. Even the ones acknowledged as the institutions of eminence by the government of India that is the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Institute of technology hardly acquire position amongst the top 200 in the world.

Government Initiatives

Though, initiatives like ” Study in India ” website to attract more students into universities can be seen as a positive step in this direction. The Centre ceded all the prior security clearance requirements for hiring foreign faculty members at the higher education institutions in India. Now, universities can directly hire foreigners without clearance from the Ministries of Home Affairs (MHA) and External Affairs (MEA).  In addition, the government has also taken a decision that overseas citizens of India, holding foreign passports, can be duly appointed as the permanent faculty members without the institutions having the need to seek MHA or MEA clearance. Undoubtedly, this can be seen as dawn to the positive internationalisation of the Indian Education system.

In addition to this the IIT council has decided to make the fee competitive enough for the low-income countries to opt IITs as their institution option and also the IIT council has taken a decision to ease out the Citizenship Act in order to hire more foreign faculty members and ease out the process of their involvement in the pioneer institution like IIT. These initiatives will not only help the IITs in attracting more foreign students and teachers to their institutions but also improve their ranking globally. 

However, there are various challenges which remain open to this decision by the council especially when it comes to hiring of the scientists and those in the technology sector who already have many good global options available to be considered. For example, the IITs will struggle to offer competitive salaries and this is because the current trend of the Indian rupee continually losing ground to the US dollar has brought down the amount offered by the Indian institutes when compared to their foreign counterparts. 

Secondly, the geographical locations of IITs in far-flung places that don’t offer the comforts and laurels even half as good as those compared to the ones offered by the larger cities from around the globe are thus not particularly attractive to foreigners. Thirdly, even the large cosmopolitan cities have their fair share of problems. For example, a recent report found that Delhi’s toxic air forced every third senior corporate executive to deny the job offers in the national capital region. And finally, the biggest share of problem arises when the nature of India’s current political system is considered which is enough to force both students and teachers to think twice before choosing India as their priority for the education sector.

Way Forward/Conclusion

Thus it is not wrong if we say that it is indeed high time to bring out ideas that are lucrative enough to attract a prominent number which could be attributed as a symbol of positivity when talking about the international educational intent. While the practice of delivering programmes that are specifically designed to prepare students for the workplace is gaining ground this is where India as a whole is lagging far behind when it is been brought to comparison with what the Western countries along with the eminent economically emerging nations have to offer. And this is basically because the Indian higher education trajectory has not taken  into  cognisance  this  exponential  development  and thus very  often there accounts a huge mismatch  between  the  skills the higher education  system as a whole is providing to the graduates  and the skills that are required by the employer in order to stand deliverable at the globally raging platform.

In this regard the Indian prime minister Narendra Modi’s tweet that “India can meet skilled manpower of the entire world. We need to assess our capabilities in the global context” has indeed provided us with an indication of the importance the government accords to the internationalisation of higher education in the global scenario and has sent a message to the global world participants regarding the same. Thus what government should focus on in totality regarding enhanced enrolment from the global world is creating ’education hubs’ in strategic locations clearly coordinated with the government’s current drive to establish ‘Smart Cities’ and this step can be seen both from capacity building and economic perspectives. A clearer approach to the internationalisation of the education system would thereby offer the potential to secure India a formidable global standing in higher education.