India has the third largest enrollment globally in the field of higher studies after US and China. It is ironical that in spite of such a position- rank wise- over one lakh Indian students go to the US for studies, while less than 3000 visit India annually. A study by the Institute of Internal Education, a private non- profit organization, suggests that given India’s political and economic role in the global market, and its multitude of cultures and languages, it should be a more popular international students destination, especially for US students.
The reason for this asymmetry are not far to seek. Apart from the uneven quality of Indian higher education, a bureaucratic system that poses many hurdles to rapid expansion of Indo-US educational collaborations and a vastly different pedagogy and curricula, several misconceptions and stereotypes discourage US citizens from opting India as a destination for higher studies. Worldwide, India is only the 21st most popular overseas study destination for US students. In Asia it is their third choice after China and Japan.
India has long been a host to students from other developing countries and more than 25000 international students are currently enrolled in higher educational institutions. But most of them are from South Asia and the Middle East.
It is time that those in charge of planning and executing Indian’s higher education policy took steps to make India more attractive to students from the West. This will require reforms, including institutional governance, teacher accountability, accredition and improvements in curriculum and resource allocation.
Indian students currently contribute $3.1 billion to the US economy. The tuition fees paid by the US students studying in India are, on the other hand, mostly retained by the US home campus or study abroad provider. This enormous imbalance needs to be addressed in the field of higher studies.