A year after Gujarat’s only English-medium University, the MS University of Baroda managed to admit a dismal 14 students of foreign nationalities, the university has enrolled a record-breaking number of 34 students of foreign nationality for the academic year 2019-20, while admissions of 14 more students from 17 different countries are under process.
The students have taken admission through the scholarships provided by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). MSU has attracted the maximum number of students from the seven universities of the state where in a total of 106 students have been admitted so far. Gujarat at present has 10 per cent of the total students admitted through ICCR from across 157 countries in various universities across the country.
This comes a year after the MSU committee set up to study the reasons behind the university’s falling rankings at national level pointed out that there are less than 5 per cent students from outside Gujarat whereas the number of of foreign students is almost nil. The report had stated that most of the institutes in the top 100 rankings has an average of 15 to 20 per cent students from outside state and abroad which adds to the diversity of the educational institutions. The report had recommended that relevant courses and better infrastructure be provided to attract the foreign students to the university. As per the National Institute of Ranking Framework (NIRF) survey of 2018, the university had not featured amongst the top 200 universities of the country. However, in 2016, the university was ranked 76th and in 2017, it was in the rank band of 151 to 200.
Better hostel facilities, recommendation of the university through word of mouth and overall safety is being touted as the major reasons behind the rise. Amashi Muthukumarana, a first-year Masters student of Museology, joined after she came to know about the varsity from her professors in Sri Lanka. “I was a student of History in Sri Lanka and I wanted to pursue Museology. While I was looking for universities, my professors told me about MS University. The head of the department and the teachers here have been very helpful,” Amashi said.
Saira Turna from Bangladesh said, “I wanted to explore universities in Gujarat… When I enquired, MS University was highly recommended by friends and others.” Saira is a first-year student of Business Administration.
Beginning this year, the ICCR hostel facilities, which can accommodate around 80 students, have also started providing washing machine and fridge to the students. From the previous year, induction stove were also provided to the students.
“Initially food was an issue. Different students have different taste buds and most of them are non-vegetarians. We were then provided with an induction stove so that we can cook whatever we want. Since then it has become easier for us as far as food preferences are concerned,” said Mitu Karmakar, a third-year student of Vocal Music. She is from Bangladesh.
However, a few students who have been temporarily accommodated at the regular hostels also shared their grievances pertaining to hygiene and food. “The kind of food here at the hostel is not up to the mark. The hygiene should also be improved. As soon as we came here, we were warned of dengue,” said Sebabi Emmanuel, a student of MSc Physics, and a national of Uganda.
The authorities, however, claim to have provided them with mosquito repellent kits. “This is a temporary accommodation since this year the inflow of students has risen drastically. We are in the process of admissions and meanwhile we are also looking at other accommodation facilities to relocate them. A proposal regarding a separate hostel for the foreign students has also been tabled,” said Professor Dhanish Patel, Director, Office of International Affairs.