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Reality check on foreign varsity Bill

Only 21% Indian students in US would have stayed in India for higher education even with access to American teachers, shows most comprehensive study on the future plans of Indian students in the US
Hindustan Times | By Charu Sudan Kasturi, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2011 01:27 AM IST

Only 21% of Indian students in the US who participated in the most comprehensive study yet of their future plans said they would have stayed back in India for higher education even with access to American teachers.

The finding is significant because it comes as Parliament is set to debate the Foreign Educational Institutions Bill aimed at allowing top foreign varsities into India.

Human resource development minister Kapil Sibal has repeatedly argued that the Bill will help curtail the loss of US $ 4 billion currently spent by Indian students in seeking higher education abroad.

But the findings of the study titled “Will they return” by Tata Institute of Social Sciences political science professor Venkatesh Kumar, and David Finegold, Dean of Rutgers University’s School of Management and Labour Relations suggest the task may not prove easy.

Out of a total of 998 Indian students in the US who participated in the study, 855 answered questions on whether they would have stayed back in India with access to American faculty. Among these respondents, 35% said they would still have traveled to the US for higher education while another 44% said they are unsure.

The absence of professionalism, work ethic and cutting edge research were cited as the biggest factors by students for wanting to pursue higher education in the US.

About half the respondents – 54% -- said they are keen to return to India but after working for a few years in the US. “Another key finding was the high fraction of students who said they wanted to give something back to Indian higher education,” said Kumar, currently a Herbert Humphrey Fellow at Pennsylvania State University.

The researchers used regression analysis to distinguish trends based on the qualification students were pursing, their academic stream, age, sex, marital status and presence of children. They also studied reasons why the students left India for American higher education.

The Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management, central, state and deemed universities across India face a faculty crunch that has left the country with one of the world’s worst higher education student-teacher ratios in the world.

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