By Prof. (Dr.) Anoop Swarup
A. An Overview to a new paradigm, why not live here and study here:
Presently India is just next to China in terms of international student enrolments and mobility based on a study made by QS World Rankings. This may change post-pandemic when we may become the number one country, largely due to China’s aversion now emerging across the globe and vice versa, but also due to the rising population of 1.26 billion in India and economic well-being. It also holds true that the youth in India more than 50% below the age of 25 leaves India’s shores to fulfill their own dreams and those of their parents are also helped and promoted by their Schools. There are few insights for us to develop a national strategy for promoting stay in India and study in India. The US National Science Foundation’s Survey reveals that almost 80% of students from India and other Asian countries choose to remain in America after completing their graduate and doctoral studies. The notes below do attempt to derive approach paper to a future India where students from not only our own country but also abroad find our country as an attractive study destination.
B. Existing Equity, Access and Quality Perceptions in India, where myth versus reality matters but is seldom realized:
Indeed it is the prevailing perceptions in our country that drive not only the public policy but also societal behavior, so it is pertinent to change the myth and our understanding as to why our youth study abroad? In order to circle back some pointers are :
- It is a prevailing notion that studying abroad will help our youngsters stay ahead of those who stay at home and study at local colleges and universities.
- It is an assumption that an international qualification both at Bachelor’s and Master’s level has global recognition that our youth have accomplished in their educational ladder.
- It is perceived that by studying abroad your language, vocabulary and communication skills both spoken and written will improve.
- As a gateway to employability prospects in India and abroad, perhaps the perception that students who return back and seek job opportunities will have them in plenty.
- There are companies that consider international exposure as an important factor when making decisions and a degree earned abroad will demonstrate not only a go-getter attitude but also better experiential learning.
- Our youth who choose to study abroad, do try new activities and sports that may not even exist in India.
- Also, the university abroad may offer exciting extracurricular meets, clubs and classes that help the youth to broaden their horizons.
- Our youth get unbounded opportunities to make friends across the world as they join alumni, clubs, societies, organizations and online portals that connect them for life.
- Many non-resident Indians abroad do form connections for life, much more emphatically than those who study even in the best institutions in our country.
C. A Paradigm Shift: What has to change to ensure that the youth find India as a more attractive destination?
1. Ensuring ease of competition in admissions and a friendly ambiance on campus and in the classroom.
- Too much competition is a dampener, even to the brightest as admissions to India’s top-ranked institutes such as IIMs (Indian Institute of Management), IITs (Indian Institute of Technology) and AIIMS (All India Institute of Medical Sciences) are through a very straight jacket and inflexible competitive process implying that most of our youth who make it are coached in select coaching institutes and schools that stress on rote approach.
- Studies reveal that on average, a student has less than a 50% chance of securing admission to a highly reputed institution. To secure admission is very intense based on study and discipline such as the Joint Entrance Exams (JEE mains) for engineering colleges and the National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) for medical colleges.
- Even the brightest students do give up hopes of securing admission to a university of their choice and with no guaranteed admission do have the final option of studying abroad. Therefore eventually, for bright students admission at a highly ranked foreign university is perceived to be comparatively better and easier
2. Better choice of electives, lateral movement, flexibility and more study options.
In India, there is too much reliance on delivering popular STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) courses in most Institutes.
The Institutions in India in the government domain do not have the initiative to improve subject choices as also the flexibility to change options because of too centralized a decision-making hierarchy.
The Institutions in the private domain is mostly run the courses on the beaten track with little or no choices, imagination, or creativity because of lack of autonomy from regulatory bodies and also for want of financial resources.
In our country, private enterprise is still in an evolving stage where entrepreneurs do not lose control of the Institutions being are driven more by money-making and even profiteering mindsets than by any broad or philanthropic considerations.
There are many students who wish to take the road less traveled, are on the lookout to advance their studies abroad just because their desired choice is not available in our country they chose foreign institutions even if less known.
In cases, if the course is available, the universities in India lack the finance, motive, expertise and accreditation to a better career path.
No doubt, there is a rich array of courses on offer to international students in countries such as the US, UK, Australia and Canada.
Countries do offer studies in some of the most contemporary and unconventional fields like entertainment, sports and psychology are a rich repository of new knowledge and excitement to our youngsters. As an instance student who wants to study creative arts or graphics or filmmaking or for that matter even cutting edge skills such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, robotics, cloud computing techniques, nanotechnology, or biotechnology in India has fewer opportunities to choose from.
Also pursuing a STEM course abroad, the choices are very broad across the world, for instance in the UK there are not only affordable universities offering engineering programs such as mechatronics, astronomy, space engineering, aerospace, telecom and electrical engineering to motorsports, textile and aeronautical engineering.
3. Achieving excellence in the quality of our higher education:
India as yet is in the throes of developing its course content to be at par or even ahead of the world, there still appears a blissfully poor practical experience in most Institutions and a further lack of opportunities in developing particular skills and conceptual learning for atmanirbharta so much critical to India’s innovation enterprise.
Many of our youngsters struggle to get good internships, not to speak of job placements on graduation, well the issue is primarily exasperated because of the apathy of our Institutions to promote a better understanding of ideas and precepts instead of an emphasis on rote learning.
In stark contrast, institutions abroad engage students in hands-on teaching and learning and class participation, team ship and leadership sessions as well as dialogue and role play, case studies, and practical off- and on-campus experiential learning through fun and meaningful exchanges.
The best part of the institutional drive for excellence is through blended learning where flexibility is tailored and inbuilt into courses where decentralized decision-taking ensures student’s interest drives the teaching-learning and earning quotient with part-time work adds to the overall appeal of a degree abroad.
Thus as in the US where a lot of weight comes due to universal recognition, active faculty earn global recognition on their own research credentials and academic merits, in India too we should not only empower the academia with complete decision making autonomy but also encourage final authority in all matters of the institution to only the academic fraternity.
Let us have the best example of the Ivy League institutions where attending a university such as Harvard, Yale, or Stanford that offers not only name recognition but also great alumni networks spanning the globe.
Help in conduction of such networks comes with outstanding experience sharing and academic learning prospects even outside of the Ivy League, in most countries such as in Australia, Canada and England.
For the students, most innovations are a joint enterprise that results in future business opportunities. The culture of innovation and technology be it health care, artificial intelligence, or even finance is fostered and propelled by breakthroughs through the research and development departments of an enterprise working in cohesion with a university.
A culture of creativity and innovation is promoted from the schools to the university can be embedded in India too where students can benefit hugely from access to technologically savvy labs and other research facilities that universities offer through a University-Industry interphone.
4. The global ambiance and the better livelihood prospects by immigration pathways.
Indeed immigration is one of the top reasons why our youth turn to international campuses was attracting talent and skills and excellence is promoted particularly at graduate levels. Most countries offer attractive job prospects through their flexible immigration policies that allow students to seek employment on successful completion of studies.
- Let us study examples from countries such as Canada and Australia that have made several recent changes to give improved options to international students to amalgamate learning, living, studying, working and even settling in the country. The Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) of June 2018 announced the launch of the Student Direct Stream (SDS) to replace the Student Partnership Program (SPP), ensuring consistency and efficiency in the student visa application process. As a result students from India, China, the Philippines and Vietnam could benefit from faster visa processing times apart from many other incentives. Perhaps in India to we can promote better skilling and talent migrations that not only stop the brain drain but also reverse the tide of our best youth from going abroad. Australia and Britain have similar approaches to attract the best talent to their education fold.
- In Canada previously, the SPP system allowed students to apply to only a limited no of about 47 communities, however, now a college and university with a unique Designated Learning Institution (DLI) number come directly under the SDS system, which gives international students a range of higher education options to choose from. A similar approach to the CRICOS registration process is followed in Australia too.
- We may note that the Student Direct Stream complements the Express Entry System. In Canada implying that students who successfully complete their studies through the SDS process will be on the path to permanent residence and Canadian citizenship.
- In New Zealand, Australia, Germany and the US similar approaches to attract students, both domestic and international by a grant of deferred loans for study in the home country, deferred and subsidized tax incentives have done wonders.
- The Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS) of Canada is a point-based system used to assess and score immigrant profiles and rank them in the Express Entry pool. The CRS determines if an immigrant is eligible for permanent residence status in Canada or not. It ranks each profile on the basis of several determining factors such as age, education, work experience, language ability and adaptability. The Comprehensive Ranking System now awards 15 points to international students holding a diploma or certificate earned on completion of one- or two-year courses thus promoting the local academic institutions. Likewise, holders of certificates, diplomas and degrees earned in three years or more, including a Master’s, professional or doctoral degree, are awarded 30 points.
- In New Zealand, Australia, Germany and the US similar point-based approaches have been promoted in different forms with tremendous success.
Immigration Policies to promote the domestic study of Popular Destinations for Indian Students
|National Marketing Strategy
|Path to Immigration
|On-campus work for upto 20 hrs/week: 12 month total curricular practical training(CPT) during study
Post-study: 12 months optional practical training(OPT); STEM majors can extend the period to 36 months
Int’l Education Strategy
Extra points for immigration applicants with Canadian credentials
|Work Permit not required: during study for upto 20 hrs/week
Post-Study work-permit: for upto 3 years
Int’l Education: Global Growth Prosperity
|20 hrs/week: if you are in a degree programme or above at a higher education institution
Post-study work permit: cancelled in April, 2012
Doctorate graduates: get one year extension
National Strategy for International Education 2025
Extra points for immigration applicants with Australian credentials
|20 hrs/week during the study; unlimited hours during breaks
Graduates with a minimum of 2 years in Australia can get a post-study work visa for 2 years
Draft Int’l Education Strategy for New Zealand to 2025
Extra points for immigration applicants with New Zealand credentials
|20 hrs/week: during study
Post-study: 12 months permit
Strategy DAAD 2020
|90 days/year: on student visa
18-month visa: extension post-study
Source: World Education News + Reviews
5. Cutting edge and better research opportunities with pathways to a career in national research enterprise:
Basic research has to be promoted by government grants and projects that lead to continuing employment as recommended by Professor Yashpal in the report of the National Knowledge Commission. Students pursuing subjects particularly in research-centric areas like biology astronomy, astrobiology, avionics, space research or nanosciences or pharmacy do not receive enough support from Indian institutions in terms of both the infrastructure and resources. Universities in America, Australia, Canada and Britain offer abundant resources to provide students with the best lab and the sophisticated technologies, equipment and infrastructure to conduct in-depth research. Our students do choose research courses abroad because of favorable environs and conditions, flora and fauna as also the habitat in those specific locations.
D. Future Positive: How to convince our youth to stay and study in India? How do we convince the parents to let their wards pursue this?
We do need out-of-the-box approaches and lateral thinking to propose the ‘Stay in India and Study in India’ initiative not only from the best practices and learning from abroad but also our own unique conditions in India. From the standpoint of surprisingly simple tweaking of existing traditions to major policy shifts, we need a more holistic study abroad experience in India. Yes we have to promote scholarships, ensure a pathway to better jobs in India, provide learning with the potential to travel abroad, giving back to India through incentivisation of academic excellence, mentoring of students by ensuring pathways to leading-edge jobs, promoting centers of excellence in cutting edge areas, retaining the brightest requires challenging them and implementing the outcomes. Man-making and personality development of our youth can be the core value around which we can model our nation’s development, in terms of academics, personality, our glorious heritage and beyond. In an increasingly globalized economy, where Vasudeva Kuttumbakkam is our core belief, being adaptable and attuned to cultural differences both within our country and abroad will be an invaluable approach. To bring to India the best from Institutions abroad as also retaining the best of our own values and heritage will be the way forward for the future particularly in an online and digitalized virtual new normal of tomorrow. The employability quotient and lateral mobility coupled with a skilled workforce will prove to be a demographic dividend instead of a demographic disaster where our youth stay and study in India to make our world a better one instead of overseas.