Foreign students sponsored by the Government of India for higher studies in the country, may soon have a wider choice of academic institutions to select from.
Rajya Sabha MP and chairman of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) Karan Singh has said that the council would soon examine the issue of bringing deemed as well as private universities under the ICCR scholarship net.
As of now, the ICCR - an autonomous body of the ministry of external affairs (MEA) for promoting academic and cultural relations with other countries - refers all government-sponsored foreign students to state university-affiliated institutions or to courses recognised by the state universities.
"Selecting the right college remains one of the two major issues for foreign students coming to India," Singh said at the inaugural ceremony of the ICCR's new regional office at the Symbiosis Centre for Health Care here on Sunday. Singh identified delay in arrival of scholarship papers from the MEA to the ICCR regional offices as the other key issue. "The delay is a serious problem and we are trying to streamline the processes to resolve it," he said.
Singh said that widening the scholarship net was a policy decision that entailed discussion by the ICCR governing body. The move to include deemed and private universities would be in tune with ICCR's existing thrust on creating public private partnership (PPP) models for its various initiatives. "We will soon examine the issue," he promised.
speech, Symbiosis joint director Vidya Yeravdekar and representatives of ICCR scholars, had urged Singh to consider inclusion of deemed universities under the ICCR scholarship net besides publication of a list of institutions with authentic ratings, to facilitate foreign students to make a choice.
Each year, the council sponsors nearly 2,000 students from 75 foreign countries for professional and higher education programmes. Pune accounts for 750 of these foreign scholars - the highest share of ICCR scholars in the country. The overall funding for 2,000 scholarships is worth Rs 30 crore.
According to Singh, 2,000 scholarships was a 'highly inadequate' number. "We have plans for a substantial increase in these numbers if we get the requisite funds from the MEA," he said.
Pune has 22,000 foreign students including the 750 ICCR scholars. Of these, 14,000 students study at the University of Pune (UoP) and its affiliated institutions. The Symbiosis International University (SIU), a deemed university, is host to over 2,000 foreign students including 50 ICCR scholars studying at Symbiosis' arts, science and commerce college, which is affiliated to the UoP.
Earlier, Singh handed out degrees to 1,100 pass-outs at the annual convocation ceremony of the SIU. The ICCR chairman emphasised the various virtues of education that help students face the challenges in their professional careers.