Several IITs have been signing MoUs and establishing academic and research collaborations with foreign-based universities. But does that guarantee more foreign students and teachers‘ enrolment? Perhaps not.

Signing an MoU is just the first step and ‘real‘ work starts afterwards, says Sanjeev Sanghi, dean, alumni affairs and international programmes, IIT Delhi after signing an MoU with , Australia.

With the newly-signed MoU the IIT-D is aiming to bring in foreign students and teachers to India via dual and joint degrees, and exchange programmes as opposed to the usual trend of Indian students going abroad. However, to implement it the institute would have to overcome limited funds and a cumbersome admission process.

“We do not receive separate funding to send students or teachers abroad and have to look for sponsorships. The institute can sponsor for short-term stay abroad, but for longer stays there are no frameworks in place,” he adds.

The admission process for IITs – Joint Entrance Exams (JEE) – also limits the institutes from enrolling the foreign nationals at the undergraduate level. In the action plan submitted to the MHRD for the Institute of Eminence (IoE) tag, IIT-Delhi has mentioned that the “admission process for the IITs requires extensive preparation and is not conducive to attract foreign students to even attempt an entry.”

R Nagarajan, dean, international relations, IIT Madras, says, “We cannot expect the foreign students to crack the entrance exam for UG courses. Since IITs cannot lower their bar, we need to look for a different entrance options for the foreign students. GRE and GATE can help in this regard,” says Nagarajan.

IIT-D had in the action plan also mentioned that the funds received from the ministry are not enough to enrol foreign PhD scholars. “It would be unfair to give foreign scholars a higher stipend than the Indian scholars as the cost of living in India is relatively cheaper,” said Sanghi.

Even IIT-Madras that claims to have highest joint PhD programmes in India, feels internationalisation and foreign enrolments have not been up to the mark. “IITs have collaborated with 200+ foreign-based universities these are signs of internationalisation but do not ensure higher foreign enrolment. To have more foreign faculty and student enrolments we need to highlight the benefits of studying/ working in India. We need to outline better salary offers, work on government policies and create a mind-set to host them,” says Nagarajan.
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