The government wants to make IITs more diverse and plans to take in more foreign students from next year but nine of the country’s top engineering schools have no overseas student in the post-graduate or PhD programmes.
The numbers are no better for the remaining nine Indian Institutes of Technology, where foreigners account for less than one per cent of the post-graduate and doctoral students. This despite IITs setting aside 25% of the seats in these programmes for overseas students.
The push for foreign students is not just driven by diversity concerns.
Sources said the move would help in improving IITs global ranking as the number of foreign students was one of the major parameters for rating universities.
Though IITs are among the country’s best institutes none figure among the top 200 global schools.
Across the 18 IITs, around 130 foreign students are enrolled in post-graduate courses and at least 100 for PhD, information provided by IITs has revealed. As many as 25,000 Indian students are enrolled in these programmes.
Concerned over fewer foreign students opting for India, especially from the neighbouring countries, the IIT council next year plans to hold the admission test to undergraduate and post-graduate courses in South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) countries -- but not Pakistan -- and Singapore, Dubai and Ethiopia.
Though the test will be held in 2017, the outreach programme begins in August and will be conducted in eight countries including Ethiopia, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
“In consultation with the ministry of external affairs, the (human resource development) ministry has decided to constitute teams which will visit Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Dubai, Bhutan, Ethiopia among others to canvass about the advantage of studying in IITs,” an official said.
The ministry wants foreign students’ numbers to go up to 10%.
These students have to sit GATE or GRE to get into IITs.
Some IITs have done better than others in attracting talent from abroad. IIT Delhi has 32 post graduate students who have come for abroad while another 34 are pursuing PhD. Roorkee has 73 foreigners in post-graduate programmes and 19 in PhD.