Finance minister Nirmala Sitaraman mentioned in her Budget speech that India will soon be announcing its National Education policy. Upbeat on the announcement, K Kasturirangan, space scientist and head of the nine-member committee that had formulated the National Education Policy, told Business Today, "It is a significant announcement. I am happy that the Prime minister will be taking a call on this."
He also welcomed the government's study-in-India initiative. "We certainly need to improve the international contact in education," he said. Currently, only about 45,000 students come to India from international institutions for their higher education. "It is a small number for a country of India's size and the country could increase this manifold."
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"We need to create the infrastructure, topics and subjects of interest for international students, especially in areas that interest many of them such as social sciences and the cultural side of it apart from the aspects of Indian tradition," he says.
He feels with new pedagogy, teachers and infrastructure, India could really become a destination for higher education for international students. "There are many students in Africa and Asia, who would like to come and pursue their studies in India." It could all be achieved, he felt, if we back this with the necessary capacity, capability and internationalisation in the context of amenities and other procedures that we need to bring in such as ease of visa issue and ease of stay here.
According to the education policy draft, currently, while Indian students are increasingly travelling abroad for their studies, approximately 45,000 (11,250 per year) international students study in Indian higher education institutions, making India the 26th ranked country among the top destinations for international student mobility. This accounts for less than 1 per cent of global international student mobility, given that globally, nearly 5 million students were reported to be studying outside their home countries in 2014.
The policy draft, which had received nearly 2 lakh responses, had also pointed out that this was crucial given "the understanding these students will derive and the relationships they will forge in our country will influence their work in their home countries. India has had an illustrious history in the internationalisation of higher education. The world's first university was established in Takshashila in 700 BCE. In its heyday in the 7th century CE, the University of Nalanda had students and scholars from China, Indonesia, Korea, Japan, Persia, Turkey, and other parts of the world".