Boys and girls from conflict hit Afghanistan form a chunk of foreign students at Panjab University (PU) and its affiliated colleges. They are followed by Iranians, Canadians, Tibetans, NRIs and Americans. However, on PU campus there are more Iranians and Canadians than Afghans.
60% rise in foreign students on PU campus
In 2013-14, a total of 391 foreign students took admission at PU and affiliated colleges with 140 on campus and 251 in colleges. The number rose to 419 in 2014-15 with 146 on campus and 273 in affiliated colleges.
There was a substantial rise in foreign students in 2015-16 with 497 in total; out of which 205 were on campus and 292 were in colleges. Then in 2016-17, the number of foreigners rose to 516 with 225 on PU campus and 291 in colleges.
So, in 4 years there is a rise of 32% in total while on campus there is a rise of 60.7%.
Only 150 foreign girls in 2016-17
But percentage of girls among foreign students is much lesser. There were 125 girls in 2014-15, which rose to 150 in 2016-17 on the PU campus and its affiliated colleges. However, girls are more at the undergraduate level.
On campus, Canada and Iran have a majority of girls’ presence so much so that Canadian girls have been more than boys on the campus.
Why foreign students come to PU and its colleges?
Talking to HT, Prof Deepti Gupta, dean of international students, PU, said, “PU and its affiliated colleges are doing well as far as foreign students are concerned. All the Afghan students are getting scholarships from Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR). As there are good diplomatic relations with Afghanistan, they are encouraged more.”
ICCR aids in sending Afghan students across India. “They pursue undergraduate courses in affiliated colleges and few go for post graduate studies,” she said.
“But Iranians come for post graduation courses and PhDs. PU is a good brand as far as research is concerned. Iranian universities are good as far as under graduate courses are concerned. Most of them pursue defence studies, English, economics here. Canadians prefer PU who have Punjabi roots so does Americans who come here,” reasoned Prof Gupta.
She added that Chandigarh was a good location for foreign students as there was no problem of racism.
‘50-60% of Afghan students fail at UG level’
The officials pointed that 50-60 % of Afghans fail at the undergraduate level. “Other nationalities manage to cope up studies here but Afghans face language problem. But we are counselling them to attend English classes,” she said.
PU has started a 1-year course in English proficiency for foreign nationals at the English department on campus.