India’s higher education institutions hosted a total of 47,427 international students from 164 countries in the academic year 2018/19, newly-released figures reveal.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is determined to increase the quality of university education in India but he has a long way to go.
About 64% of all international enrolments came from 10 countries, and the highest senders were India’s regional neighbours.
Nepal sent 27% of all international students, Afghanistan 10% and Bangladesh 4%. The other countries in the top 10 were Sudan, Bhutan, Nigeria, US, Yemen, Sri Lanka and Iran.
Almost two thirds of the international student cohort were enrolled at undergraduate level, while 16% were pursuing postgraduate qualifications
Last year, the Study in India initiative made headlines as the country announced plans to rebrand as a major study destination and host 1 million international students.
According to Sannam S4 executive director & head of education Lakshmi Iyer, the country is “a long way” from achieving its goal.
“[International students are] merely 0.13% of the total enrolments in higher education in the year 2018-19,” she explained.
“The number of foreign students enrolled in India has increased by 3% year-on-year. So, a long way to go especially considering that foreign students come from 164 different countries across the globe.”
“India has always recognised the importance of education as a soft diplomacy tool, however it is for the first time we have stitched together a credible initiative to really push this agenda forward in the face of China’s well-funded Belt and Road Initiative which is pushing into regions which India considers as her natural allies,” she added.