India’s educational history is rich and diverse, with a legacy that spans several millennia. From ancient times to the present, India has been a centre of learning and has made significant contributions to various fields. India has made significant contributions to mathematics. The concept of “zero” (0) as a numerical value, the decimal system, trigonometry, and an accurate approximation for the value of π (pi) were developed in India. The decimal system, including the use of the digit “zero,” was later transmitted to the Arab world and Europe, fundamentally changing the way mathematics was approached. Formal universities such as “Nalanda” were established, attracting scholars from various parts of the world. India’s educational history is a tapestry of innovation, knowledge dissemination, and cultural exchange.
In recent years, there has been a significant surge in the number of foreign students choosing India as their preferred destination for higher education. Around 3.33 lakh foreign students arrived in India from over 160 countries around the world in the last few years, from 2016 to 2021, with 2019 witnessing the highest number of foreigners, as per the data. The previous two years also saw over 70,000 such students. A total of over 48 thousand foreign national students were enrolled in India in 2021, with the highest share of students coming from neighbouring countries.
Thanks to our booming information technology sector, most students come to India to study engineering, especially a Bachelor of Technology. The top 10 countries from which students come to India are Nepal, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, the USA, the UAE, Bhutan, Sudan, Nigeria, Tanzania, and Yemen.
From its diverse educational institutions to its rich cultural heritage, India offers a plethora of opportunities that have captivated the attention of students from all corners of the globe. The Government of India has been investing to build a better and more modernised infrastructure of university campuses, libraries, laboratories, and other facilities to cater to the needs of foreign students. The Ministry of Education facilitates the process of scholarships and fellowships offered by foreign countries under cultural and educational exchange programs.
On November 30, 2015, the Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN) was launched to garner the best international knowledge and experience for the country’s higher education to enable students and faculty to interact with the best academic and industry experts from across the world.
In 2018, the Government of India embarked on building 20 institutions of higher learning—10 public and 10 private institutions—as “Institutions of Eminence” (IoE) so that they are related among the global best institutions. In 2018, the Higher Education Financing Agency (HEFA) was approved by the Cabinet for the creation of a fund with government equity of Rs. 1000 crores to give a big push for building up robust higher educational institutions and for the creation of high-quality infrastructure in premier education institutions.
The growing trend can be attributed to several factors that make India a unique and attractive academic hub for international students. One of the primary reasons why foreign students are drawn to India is its affordable tuition fees compared to other popular study destinations. Many universities in India offer high-quality education at a fraction of the cost when compared to Western countries. This cost-effectiveness is particularly appealing to students from developing nations who seek quality education without accumulating significant financial burdens. India is home to numerous reputable universities and educational institutions that offer world-class education across various disciplines.
Renowned institutions like the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) have earned global recognition for their academic excellence. Moreover, many Indian universities collaborate with international institutions, providing students with a broader perspective and exposure to a global learning environment. India’s education system is diverse, offering a wide range of courses and specialisations across various fields, including engineering, information technology, pharmaceuticals, medicine, law, management, liberal arts, education, and more.
This diverse array of courses allows international students to pursue their passions and interests while gaining expertise in their chosen area of study. English is widely spoken and used as the medium of instruction in most Indian universities. Most foreign students who come to study in India communicate in English; this makes it easier to adapt to the academic environment and interact with peers and faculty without language barriers.
India is already a diverse nation, which makes it easier for foreign students of different cultures to get accepted here without making them feel neglected. India’s rapid economic growth and technological advancements have bolstered its global influence. To increase the intake of more foreign students in India, some steps are necessary.
Offering more internship and job opportunities for international students after completing their studies will make India a more enticing destination for higher education, as it opens doors for practical experience and future career prospects. Highlighting the diverse range of courses, world-class institutions, and unique cultural experiences will attract more attention from prospective international students. Amidst India’s educational terrain, international students encounter more than just academic enhancement.
They engage with a dynamic cultural backdrop that molds their outlooks, nurturing a voyage of learning, maturation, and intercultural insight. India awaits to shape one’s future on its vibrant canvas with immersive journeys.
Dr. Heera Lal, a senior IAS officer and Special Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh
Mukul Joshi, Founder, AapkaCareer.in