Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are poised to open their gates wider to foreign students this year. The human resource development ministry has accepted a proposal to allow overseas aspirants to undertake entrance examinations for admission to the premier engineering institutes and even hold these standardised tests abroad. Candidates aspiring for admission to IIT are required to undertake the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) at the bachelor’s level and the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE) at the master’s and PhD levels. HRD Minister Smriti Irani, who is also chairperson of the IIT Council, has cleared the proposal and her ministry has issued a memorandum to all IITs.
The memorandum asks each institute to place the proposal before its senate or board of governors for approval. The proposal aims at adding about 10,000 seats in 18 IITs across the country as part of the drive to attract foreign students, mainly from South Asia, Africa and West Asia, especially at postgraduate and doctorate levels.
Foreign students will, however, be required to pay the full fee of Rs 4-5 lakh a year instead of the subsidised Rs 90,000 a year that Indian students pay, so that there is no additional burden on the government.
The move to attract foreign students chimes with the government’s efforts to improve the standing of Indian institutions on global rankings. While IITs have a global reputation for quality, they lose points on the internationalization criteria which factors in the number of foreign students and faculty at each institute.
The memorandum, dated January 14, says that the report by the IIT Bombay director Professor Devang V Khakhar on ‘comprehensive system to attract international students to the IITs’ has been approved for implementation. “Director, IIT Bombay is requested to prepare a plan of action for conducting JEE and GATE in selected countries as proposed in the report immediately. Ministry of external affairs and ICCR (Indian Council for Cultural Relations) have been separately addressed for allocation of fellowship for the selected foreign students,” says the memorandum.
Foreign students are currently allowed to study at IITs through Cultural Exchange Fellowship programme or an institutional memorandum of understanding on the basis of their scores in Graduate Record Examination or GRE. For undergraduate courses, they are usually required to appear for JEE Main but some eligibility criteria prove a deterrent. In order to ensure that the student quality is not affected adversely, the IITs have insisted that every aspiring foreign student must clear the entrance examinations which are considered among the toughest standardised tests across the world.
The memorandum also issues clear directions to ensure that no deserving Indian student is deprived admission. “There shall be no reduction in the seats available for students in India while providing admissions to foreign students,” it says.
IIT Bombay, which has been identified as the national coordinator for the drive to attract foreign students, will devise a detailed action plan, identify focus countries and initiate exploratory visits very soon, according to the memorandum. The institute will then identify as well as intimate the countries as well as the institutes for conducting GATE and JEE 2016 in these countries with the help of the Indian embassies there. A special admission portal will also be put in place to assist foreign students. At the meeting of the IIT Council held in October 2015 at Mumbai, it was decided that “a system for admitting foreign students would be put in place, with preference being given to students from SAARC and African countries”. Earlier, in September, the Council of IITs in its 41st meeting had agreed that up to a fifth of the sanctioned strength of postgraduate students in IITs may be international students who will be provided admission on a supernumerary basis.
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Source: The Economic Times.