IITs move to cut course fees, woo more foreign students

• The IITs have decided to cut fees for foreign students as these premier institutes seek to attract more students from abroad, even as the Union government said it may soon allow IITs and other top schools to hire foreign faculty on a permanent basis.

• The decision comes at a time when a debate is raging across campuses about the size of foreign faculties and students and how they help improve India’s global ranking in higher education.

• The council, the apex decision making body for the IITs. The council decided to allow the IITs to fix the fee for foreign students. As the fee for foreign students is about Rs 600,000 per year, three times that of Indian students, it is not competitive enough, the IITs said.

• The IITs are targeting countries such as Nigeria, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Nepal, central Asian nations, Philippines and Sri Lanka.

• Top universities and the recently-announced ‘institutes of eminence’ are also looking to have more foreign faculties and students to improve global standing. Under IOE rules, the government has allowed institutes to have up to 30% foreign students and hire up to 25% foreign teachers.

• However, foreigners can only be hired on contract, which the IITs feel is not lucrative enough.

• According to Reserve Bank of India, spending on overseas education by Indian students jumped 44% from $1.9 billion in 2013-14 to $2.8 billion in 2017-18, while those of foreign students in India declined from $557 million in 2015-16 to $479 million in 2017-18.

• Of late, India has been making efforts to bring in foreign students and faculty to domestic institutions. The study in India scheme seeks to attract 200,000 foreign students in the next four years, which is more than five times the present number.

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