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India, the new stop for Americans

US students are making a beeline for India, with IT heading their study list.

india Updated: Apr 13, 2006 21:26 IST

For decades, a significant section of Indian students' dream was to study in the United States and work there.

And now, a "reverse trend", albeit with a smaller number to begin with, may take shape with American students coming to India for learning.

An American delegation, led by Senator Michael B Enzi, and comprised of among others by US Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, is on a mission to India to study the educational system in India and how the country is able to churn out a large number of highly-skilled professionals.

"....As Secretary of Education I am anxious to see how you all and how others around the world develop human capital and talent. Certainly you (India) have done that and you are doing that. That's why so many industries and American companies are coming here to grow and expand," Spellings said.

Spellings said the team was looking forward to learn about what India was doing on innovation and competitiveness.

Earlier, she, along with Enzi and other Senators Lamar Alexander and Johnny Isakson, visited Infosys, Texas Instruments, and the GE's R&D centre in Bangalore and also met some Google officials.

Spellings said the US would encourage American students to come to India to learn and the numbers are going to "accelerate".

"Yes, absolutely," she said about the expected rise in the number American students.

According to one estimate, there are around 70,000 Indian students studying in the US, while about 780 American students are learning in India.

"That's going to change overnight (more American students will come to India to learn). At Infosys, they were telling us there were 300 permanent employees who will come here for six months to two years from the US and then go back. These are growing programmes and will grow overtime."

On what are the areas that American students would be keen to study in India, Spellings said it's clearly information technology. "But also systems management...Things you do collaborate, leveraging all of the various things that we saw at work today at the companies we saw."

Noting that India produces a large number of highly skilled people, she said: "That's one of the pages we want to take from your book..."

"But also, the high quality...Rich technical base, strength of the skills...Your talent pool. We have work to do on that across our country as well."

According to her, India has a large and strong technical capability, while America's assets are in the areas of creativity, problem-solving and innovation. 

Spellings said partnerships between US and Indian higher educational institutions, which are largely centred around IT, science and technology and mathematics, will grow. "There are entrepreneurial efforts that are happening in the higher education courses independently."

She said in response to questions that some of the tutorial services in India are helping American students learn through coaching online. "Barriers, whether they are bureaucratic or geographic, are really breaking down for the good of both Indian and American students."

Echoing her views, Enzi said: "I see more American students coming here."

"One of the things, I think probably India is pleased about, is the number of people we met today who have been educated in the US, worked there and now see an opportunity to come back to India and promote business over here. And I think that will be good for both countries," he said.

Enzi said: "We read the book World is Flat and decided we need to come here (India) and take a look at what's happening over here because it's very exciting."

"We had excitement in the US when Sputnik went up. When the Russians launched the first satellite. We were in panic in the US. I was in the seventh grade. We said 'Russians are ahead of us. We got to be better. And we had this huge science boom (thereafter). And it made a difference for America'.

"We need to make sure that we have the same kind of passion, commitment and excitement, and we are trying to figure out to have that happen. India will help us to do that," he said.