As India and the UK celebrate 70 years of business and cultural partnership, the historic bilateral relationship has convened to include some of the most vital transferable exports between the countries. One of the prime significant British exports over the years has been education, offering students from across the world the opportunity to access world class education recognised internationally.
However, the exorbitant costs of studying and post study visa restrictions, apart from the brain drain debate have meant Indian education has once again been brought under the spotlight for ensuring it steps up to accommodate this voracious class of students aspiring for international standards in education.
Under this scenario, it is understandable that India looks to take on a sectorial reform to bring about world class standards in the country, in a bid to not only provide the Indian students with the necessary pedestal for growth, but to potentially grow into a regional and international education hub.
Until recently, India had been only recognised as a major source market for international universities, but the past few years have also seen an impressive growth rate of foreign students coming into the country. From a mere 6,988 in 2000, India has gathered momentum to include 33,156 students by 2014, a majority of them from the bowels of Asia.
According to the 2011–2012 All India Survey on Higher Education cites, the top 10 countries to opt for India are Nepal, Bhutan, Iran, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Iraq, China, and the United States, accounting to a total of 62 per cent of the total number of foreign students in the country.
UNESCO statistics also indicate that India is the preferred destination of a large number of SAARC nations with students from Bhutan (71 per cent) and Nepal (19 per cent) being the frontrunners.
Going by the World Bank’s statistics, India’s higher education system is the third largest in the world, after China and the United States. As of 2012, India has over 150 central universities, 316 state universities, and 191 private universities, largely offering tertiary education with an emphasis on science and technology.
Institutions such as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and the Indian Institutes of Managements have been globally acclaimed for their standard of under graduate and post graduate offerings. Shortly in their heels are other universities from the subcontinent including BITS Pilani, apart from IITs, listed among the top 20 science and technology schools in Asia, Indian School of Business (ISB) offering globally reputed MBAs, while the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has been recognised as a world leader in medical research and treatment.
Apart from the growing fleet of globally recognised international institutions, the other major USP for the Indian education sector is the phenomenally low-cost offering, far lesser than the rival institutions in the US and Europe.
Testimonial to India’s rigorous educational standards is the fact that some of the world’s most prominent C-suite executives and specialists have been the product of the Indian schools and universities. While Indian software industry contributes its expertise and skills to 90 countries India also accounts to nearly 30 per cent of the global supply of graduate engineers.
Records indicate 38 per cent of US medical professionals to having trained in India, while 12 per cent of scientists and 4 out of 10 NASA scientists are Indians, and so are 34 per cent at Microsoft, 28 per cent at IBM, 17 per cent at Intel and 13 per cent at Xerox are Indians.
While India’s educational prowess is unquestionably second to none, there has to be a definitive acknowledgment on the road ahead. Apart from sectorial reform to further streamline and strengthen India’s education sector, there is also a pressing need to provide a platform for the existing knowledge to offer a definitive insight and access into the segment for students to refer and make qualified decisions on their future.
This would mean we offer a one stop platform listing and recognising certified institutions with all the allied metadata, including data on the course outline, alumni, career prospects and university ratings, which will allow the students to discern between good institutes and truly great ones.
Such benchmarking would ensure we cultivate a competitive environment for institutes to partake in an effort to better their offerings against the rest, thus benefiting the student community and in turn the country.
At the moment, we are in the front row, having a clear access to the seismic change ahead the country is set to undertake in the field of education. India, if it continues on course, will not only become the hub for education in the emerging market economies, but prove to be stiff competition even to the ‘Oxbridge’.
In such a case, we will reverse the brain drain, by not only retaining the indigenous talent, but also by attracting an international pool of students and entrepreneurs who can contribute immensely to its growth trajectory of becoming global leaders.