Why India lags as a study destination


The finance minister’s budget announcement — of a programme to attract foreign students to study in the higher education establishments here — highlights a problem plaguing India’s most sought-after engineering and management institutes: getting overseas students to sign up for full-time courses.

The IITs and IIMs themselves admit that despite fierce competition among India’s best & brightest to get admission at the institutes, foreign students matter. Diversity helps encourage better exchange of ideas, creative problem-solving, innovation and adaptability.

It is also linked to the larger government agenda to make India a hub of higher education, by bringing in more foreign students under the Study in India initiative.

And then, there’s the international rankings game. If IITs and IIMs want to truly be a player in the global leagues, a good international ranking counts, and there, foreign students have a significant role to play.

The recent QS World University Rankings showed that Indian institutes have seen an average decline of 12 ranks. One of the factors responsible was poor international student ratios. Among the IITs, not a single one made it to the top 150.

“The major issue is selectivity. Their entry standards are so high that eligible international students are few, and of the calibre that will stand a chance or more to be accepted at MIT, Stanford, Caltech, etc.,” says Ben Sowter, the research director at Quacquarelli Symonds.

Ellie Bothwell, the global rankings editor at Times Higher Education, says it’s the perceived quality of the Indian higher education sector, including the quality of infrastructure, that is a major barrier.







“主要问题是甄选率。他们的入学标准过高,符合条件的国际学生寥寥无几,而且以这些学生的能力,也能被麻省理工学院、斯坦福大学、加州理工学院等院校录取,甚至更容易被录取。”Quacquarelli Symonds的研究主管本•索特表示。



Doing two things could significantly improve the chances of attracting foreign students: big scholarships and a willingness to compromise on the GMAT cut-off, in case of the IIMs. But both those areas remain challenges.

The Graduate Management Admission Council, which owns the GMAT test, had launched its own Study in India initiative in 2017 to rebuild the country’s attractiveness as a study destination for higher education. In the first year, it got 2,715 leads from 60-odd countries; in the second year, it was 4,429.

But barring Indian School of Business (ISB) and a few other private business schools that were aggressive in offering financial aid, there were hardly any applications that got converted.

India is looked upon as a cost-effective destination and not being too willing to give scholarships becomes an issue.

“A number of institutes hesitate to offer financial aid,” says Gaurav Srivastava, the regional director for South Asia at GMAC.

Also, says Srivastava, for some of the top schools, the GMAT cut-off is sacrosanct: with expected scores of around 710. That would get them to top-ranked schools globally. “If a female student from Kenya gets 710, at least 6-7 leading US institutes will give her full waiver of tuition fees because you don’t get too many candidates from the African subcontinent with that kind of GMAT cutoff. So why would she want to come to India then,” he asks.









“Many foreign students are looking at migration post completion of a programme. They want examples of former students for guidance. Their admission decision is stalled because others have not chosen to apply and those others have not applied because there are no prior examples either,” says Sanket Mohapatra, the faculty coordinate for student exchange programme at IIM-Ahmedabad.

Among Indian B-schools, ISB has arguably the highest success rate, having admitted 14 international students for its post graduate programme class of 2020. However, “India is still not seen by international applicants as a destination for management education,” says dean Rajendra Srivastava.

IITs on their part are pushing to admit more international students and faculty. But the majority of foreign students coming in are for short stint via-exchange programmes.

In June, several IITs came together for the first PAN IIT Dean International Relations Conclave at IIT-Kharagpur to brainstorm on attracting and admitting more international students.

“We are visiting top universities of neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, creating awareness and offering higher fellowship,” says Bhim Singh, the deanacademics at IIT-Delhi.

IIT-Kharagpur is promoting funded programmes targeted at students in Saarc, African, Asean, East European and Latin American countries. “Students from first world countries have a preference for countries of similar socio-economic status,” says Baidurya Bhattacharya, its dean of international relations.

“Another challenge is the availability of work permit in India for international students.”

IIT-Bombay works with funding agencies such as ICCR, DAAD and Ethopian Embassy. “If we improve our academic reputations, do more high-quality research, have job placements of top quality in India and abroad, improve infrastructure, then international students will find our institutions attractive,” says dean of international relations Swati Patankar.

This summer, IIT-Madras introduced a programme, Global Research Internships in Engineering, Sciences, Humanities and Management. “We have reached out to universities in South East Asia and other neighbouring countries to attract UG students to give them an experience of research here so they could be potential students in our PhD programme later,” says dean of international and alumni relations Mahesh Panchagnula.












It’ll take time, say stakeholders. Leading US institutes took decades to reach the levels of diversity they are at today, driven by sustained marketing efforts, generous scholarships, top quality infrastructure, professors and research facilities. While leading IITs and IIMs are also working with Study in India, the government initiative to go for student recruitment fairs in neighbouring countries and sending faculty to key countries for student recruitment, they are far lagging their international counterparts.

GMAC gives B-schools a tool to evaluate countrywide percentiles. A GMAT score of 700, in India, could be at 85-90 percentile; in France it could be 80 percentile and in Bangladesh, 98. “Candidates need to be evaluated accordingly,” says Srivastava.

There is some debate on this issue, says G Sabarinathan, the admissions chair at IIM-Bangalore.

While some feel that the GMAT cut-off can be reduced to get in foreign students, others say then the quality would suffer, he says More international faculty and more immersion programmes are required, says IIM-Kozhikode director Debashis Chatterjee. “Institutes need to start talking to corporates about taking up foreigners as interns,” he says.

The government needs to step up financial support to foreign students and give scholarships to targeted countries, like in the US, says IIT-Delhi alumnus Arun Duggal, the chairman of ratings firm Icra.



GMAC为商学院提供了一个评估全国百分位数的工具。GMAT成绩为700分,在印度可能是85- 90%;在法国可能是80%,在孟加拉国是98%。斯利瓦斯塔瓦说:“需要对候选人进行相应的评估。”





译文来源:三泰虎  http://www.santaihu.com/48192.html  译者:Joyceliu



Basically, who would by choice want to come and study in a country where women students can look forward to certain sexual harassment, and their is so much intolerance and restrictions about food, religion, expression, etc.



amalesh bhattacharya

we should follow the rule for foreign students should be encouraged for admission to our colleges,see australia,canada,and learn foreign students bring in skill of their country and will encourage our ordinary students to bring n better athletic strength,where we rely in only adivasis of east



Anthony Barbosa

Foreign students cannot cope with what is taught at IITs in India. Those who don''t get admission via Engineering entrance exams in India get admission in USA easily. So where is the problem?



Adbhut Bharat

Do IITs teach subjects that do not exst anywhere on planet earth that foreign students will not be able to understand?



Dilip Porwal

Consider the following points -

  1. Foreign students, if they come will come to only the top institutes.
  2. We dont have enough space in our top institutes for our own citizens.
  3. with almost 50% reservations, the level of discourse automatically needs to be lower to address the educational needs of all enrolled, thus lowering the high standards these institutes had aspired for.
  4. The admission process is so difficult that most students (almost all general category students) have already done about one year of college level maths, physics and chemistry. The foreign students will feel left behind when they join such a college. So, rather not join.
  5. If the foreign students were to meet the admissions criteria for our colleges, they would probably also meet it for the top institutes in the world. They would rather go to US, Japan, Europe, etc for this.

Its a lose-lose situation for all at the moment. It would be better for the govt to focus on building quality institutes and increasing the intake in the quality institutes.


  1. 外国学生,如果要来求学,只会选择顶尖学府。
  2. 我们的顶尖学府无法提供足够的学位给我们自己的公民。
  3. 由于有近50%的预留席位,为了满足所有在册学生的教育需求,语言水平自然需要降低,降低了这些学院所期望的高标准。
  4. 录取难,以至于大多数学生(几乎所有普通类别的学生)都已完成了大约一年的大学水平的数学、物理和化学课程。当外国学生进入这所大学时,他们会感到进度被落下了。所以,还是别来了吧。
  5. 如果外国学生符合我们大学的录取标准,他们也可能符合了世界顶尖学府的录取标准。他们宁愿去美国、日本、欧洲等国。




The foreign students won''t come unless they can get beef on the menu.



Subramaniam Balaraman

India will get enough foreign students and earn good foreign exchange also but in medical education and not in engineering .Engineering India has nothing to offer besides the degree . The Govt should start a public sector company to run self financing medical colleges with attached hospital where poor people can get free treatment. There will be enough candidates from all the countries . Be practical and do not chase mirage .



Asit Basu

Useless chase. Better improve your system, teaching, facility, infrastructure etc. Foreign students will be interested if they find cost effective international standard institutions. By the way image of HRD/Education Minister also counts.



Arun Sharma

Useless chase for foreign students.




The reason is simple The IITs and the IIMs established their reputation only because, at least in the initial years after they were set up, only the cream of the students from all over the country could get into them after writing a tough entrance examination. They are not known for the quality of their teaching faculty.



Adbhut Bharat

In the intial years, admission to IITs and IIMs was based on personal interview. Entrance exam was started in the 1970s only.



mangesh agnihotri

As long as quota system remains,the goal seems impossible.



Rajendra Kumar

This all high standard and so called highly competitive exams are all rubbish, foreign students would not come to dirty cities, leaving behind easy and comfortable lives there in foreign, first make your roads, shops, parks, parking, nearby all areas similar to USA or Europe.




Why is that so important? Shouldn''t they first cater for Indian students? Education should be made affordable for Indians first. Look at US and other develop countries with some always compare when others complain of high taxation. These countries provide world class schooling free of cost to all their citizens. Today if an ordinary citizen goes for admission, they are charged admission fees ranging from 25000 to lakhs. When racketeering of school education will end?




49 percent IIT and IIM Seat reservation quota must be given to foreign students who take JEE for IIT and CAT for IIM. WE demand justice, we demand justice - 49 percent quota for foreign students. Include all foreigners in the 49 percent SC ST OBC ... categories. According to old Hindu traditions and principles, all foreigners can be categorized and respected as SC ST and OBC.



Viswanath K

Indian education will make them outdated and unsuitable for the modern world. Also the regressive culture and unsafe and insecure environment will affect them psychologically.



Sanujit Roy

upgrade infra and remove quota system first




Indian institutes have a more theoretical course structure and hence there are very few inventions and innovations. I noticed it in a conference in Melbourne where several IIT academics had come to present their papers and got very poor response. Ego of academics that they are extremely knowledgeable is another detrimental factor.



Jai Govind

Indian professors of IIT focus more on scientific theory,than implementation.Although degree given is for technology and not for science.In addition, they speak monotonously with horrible accent,are not articulate,demoralising and do everything to make learning a boring experience.This is my experience in doing MOOCs of NPTEL hosted by IIT professors.In contrast,Professors of, MIT,Stanford etc are exactly opposite at least on on vedios available online.



H K Doshi Doshi

Unfortunately the author make comparison with US universities, where foreign students prefer to study not only quality education but mainly for for legal migration and to get US citizenship. This factors absent in India. But why we bother about foreign student, when our own student struggle to get admission in these institutes.




and when these students will arrive.the right wing may cry"western ppl entering and destroying India"we are still a long way to accept International students and create conditions for them to stay here



god bless

IITs needs to be modernized. Students lack confidence




No Indian educational institution has found a place in the first 50 top institutions in the world. Living conditions at these institutions may be acceptable by Indian students but considered deplorable by foreigners as is the educational standards. A graduate from Indian educational institutes is unemployable outside India so why should anyone want to come to India to study. Even Afghans, Bangla deshis Somalis are opting out.



Joe Thomas

IIT is a great but IIM is just a waste. No one becomes good in Management by studying in IIM or any other Management institution. All great entrepreneurs are with tech background or they are MBA dropouts.



Snow Lep

Yeah man , go go go - eithiopian and African students ? Hardly the model for global diversity . Looks like the only attraction is for develo nations whose students can’t wing a North American or European scholarship.




Put all foreigners in SC ST OBC category for JEE and CAT admissions. You will get 49 percent foreigners. Overall IIT IIM quality will double instantly.

在JEE和CAT考试录取时,把所有的外国人归入SC ST OBC类别。你就将立刻得到49%的外国人。印度理工学院和印度管理学院的教学质量将立即翻番。



Indian Finance Minister Urmila Sitharaman and her maiden budget has shown to be utter failure on all fronts. I don''t know where they find these people from. It is better to listen to one wise person than take advice from 1000 ignoramuses.



Jitendra Joshi

INDIA''s Finance Minister is NOT Urmila Sitaharaman.Do your home work.But other than that, I fully support your comment

印度财政部长不是Urmila Sitaharaman。瞎逼逼前先做做功课吧。但除此之外,我完全支持你的评论。

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