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It’s a good year for foreign students, Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) are poised to open their gates wider for them and have allowed the overseas aspirants to undertake entrance examinations for admission to the premier engineering institutes and even hold these standardised tests abroad.
These students will have to give a 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 basically 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 and for this purpose, they have asked each institute to place the proposal before its senate or board of governors for approval.
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.
IITs have a global reputation for quality, but their reputation is bad when it comes to the number of foreign students and faculty at each institute. Therefore, this move is to attract foreign students chimes with the government's efforts to improve the standing of Indian institutions on global rankings.
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, a copy of which has been seen by ET.
Cultural Exchange Fellowship programme or an institutional memorandum of understanding on the basis of their scores in Graduate Record Examination or GRE are the only way foreign students are allowed to study at IITs. 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.