Nearly 500 students from war-torn Syria are getting admission in government and private institutes under the “Study in India” scheme of the government launched in April earlier this year, according to officials familiar with the development.
The scheme is aimed at bringing students from countries in south Asia, southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa to top institutions in India, including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), National Institutes of Technology (NITs), the Delhi University (DU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), among others.
“This (the 2018-19 academic year) is the zero year, and even then, we have received a number of applications. Probably for the first time, so many students from Syria have applied. A few students from there have taken admission in the past but not in a systematic manner,” said a senior Human Resource Development (HRD) ministry official who asked not to be named.
According to the All India Survey on Higher Education (2016-17), totally, there are 94 students from Syria studying in Indian institutions, at various levels. A total of 2,275 students from Nepal, 751 students from Ethiopia and 635 students from Bangladesh, have also taken admission under the new scheme which provides 20,000 seats.
According to the official quoted above, the number of seats on offer will increase to 22,000 for the 2019-20 academic session, with fee waivers offered on 55% of the seats.
In April this year, the higher education minister of Syria had met Union human resource development minister Prakash Javadekar who had assured cooperation between India and Syria and that fellowships to Syrian students would be increased. A comment from the Syrian embassy was not immediately available. By 2023, the government aims at having 200,000 international students studying in India. Around 45,000 foreign students study here currently.
“It is an excellent idea and it’s a huge market that India should tap. One of the key reasons students from the specific countries are keen to study in India is because of distress in their own countries. The quality in our mid-level institutes is much better than of those in their own countries… I would suggest that there should be some screening in terms of a language and subject test and India should advertise about the tests and the seats through embassies…” said SS Mantha academician and former chairman of the AICTE.
The “Study in India” scheme has a sanctioned budget of Rs 150 crore for two years. A number of fee-waiver schemes for students have been announced, including complete fee waivers to the top 25% meritorious applicants.