The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) is learnt to have sought a justification from the HRD Ministry for continuing the post of education consul in the US, at a time when the number of Indian students in America is at a record high.
An officer posted as the education consul in Washington DC is supposed to promote closer educational collaboration between universities in the two countries, particularly in the context of the US-India 21st Century Knowledge Initiative and the Global Initiative of Academic Networks (GIAN).
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The education consul also acts as an interface between the Indian students facing problems in the US and the Indian government. The 2016 Open Doors data shows that a record 165,918 Indians were studying in the US during academic year 2015-16. This is a rise of 25 per cent over last year, making India the second leading country of origin among international students in the US. Indian students contribute more than $5.5 billion to the American economy, according to the report released Monday.
The post has been vacant for almost three years, even though the HRD Ministry justified the necessity of an education consul to DoPT in 2015. The latter, however, is learnt to have sought another explanation last month, which could further delay the appointment, said sources. Higher Education Secretary V S Oberoi did not respond to questions emailed by The Indian Express.
The government’s first attempt at filling this post was rejected by the Cabinet Committee on Appointments last year after it came to light that the DoPT had not advertised the post and also relaxed rules to appoint a 43-year-old IAS officer with cancer so that she could access clinical trials in the US.