It started as a trickle and has eventually assumed the dimensions of an influx.
With foreign students increasingly flocking to study at Jamia Millia Islamia (JMI), the university campus is now akin to a bowl of potpourri. Consequently, the crowd here is now punctuated with faces representing as many as 35 nationalities across the world. And their swelling numbers show no signs of decrease in future.
Ameena Kazi Ansari, Foreign Student’s Advisor, JMI, attributes the surge to a number of reasons. “The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholarships offered by the Government of India has enabled several international students to pursue higher studies in recognised institutions in the country. That apart, over the years, Jamia has also opened up a lot and therefore triggered an influx of foreign students,” Ansari says.
And influx sure it is. The academic session 2007 -2008 had 196 international students from 35 countries —Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mauritius, Poland, Turkey, Thailand, Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria, France, Zimbabwe, Palestine, among others — studying undergraduate, postgraduate and Ph.D programmes in this university; a significant shift from the total of 86 in the academic year 2001-2002. Students from Afghanistan, Iran and Iraq make up a large chunk of this population. Social Sciences are the most popular courses among foreigners studying here.
Husam Emad, a 21-year-old from Iraq studying B.Tech. Civil Engineering, is one among the many from his country who chose Jamia over other institutions in Asia. “I had to choose between Malaysia, England and India. Studying in England is expensive and in comparison to Malaysia, India provides better quality of education for the same cost. I applied to Jamia and fortunately got through,” he says.
However, Kesiwe F. Malindi's decision of going to JMI had more to do with breaking away from a larger trend.
“The mad rush to the UK and USA for pursuing higher studies had killed the novelty of earning a degree from these countries. Since India isn’t a very common destination among international students yet and an Indian degree holds value outside the country, I decided to come here. It was Jamia’s incredible history and reputation that greatly influenced my decision of studying here,” the Zimbabwean studying B.A. Political Science at JMI explains.
Foreigners apply to JMI either on a self-financing basis or through the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), which offers scholarships to them.