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US students eager to have India on their résumés

While a few are enrolled for full courses at Indian colleges, a growing tribe of American students is opting for exchange programmes, reports Amitava Sanyal.

india Updated: Sep 16, 2007 04:26 IST
Amitava Sanyal
Amitava Sanyal
Hindustan Times

Yet another instance of reverse traffic that India is waking up to.

While India is one of the largest exporters of students to the US, it is slowly emerging as the destination for American students eager to have India on their résumés.

While a few are enrolled for full courses at Indian colleges, a growing tribe of American students is opting for exchange programmes. Students also opt for studying in India for a single semester and be evaluated in college records back home.

Reverse sweep

IES Abroad, a Chicago-based institution facilitates students from over 150 member colleges in the US that include the

universities of Harvard, Rochester and Pennsylvania to study in India.

Nearly 1,500 students pay $8,000 to $15,000 for every semester to study abroad.

Delhi’s St. Stephens provides facilities for 10 to 15 US students every semester and has tie-ups with three American universities.

Student exchangeprogrammes and one-semester stints at Indian educational institutions have allowed US students to

follow their interests ranging from India’s ethnic background to Bollywood.

Jerome Axle Brown of Johns Hopkins University is one of them. The 20-year-old student of public health is among a group of 19 who has enrolled in a programme for the fall semester this year offered by IES Abroad, a Chicago-based non-profit overseas study facilitation service.

The Delhi centre is IES’s 16th venture and the latest on its global map of study centres. “I came here to find out what I really want to do beyond pre-med. I am hoping an outside perspective will help,” Brown said.

If self-discovery is the prime motivation that has prompted Brown to opt for the course, others in his group cite reasons ranging from the attraction of Bollywood to getting to know the nuances of a different theological system.

India has been a revealing experience for most. “Even crossing roads has been quite an adventure, but hopefully, life will get easier,” said Lindsey Humphreys of Ithaca College. “We often get preferential treatment at shops and yet, have to dole out higher prices. It’s quite unnerving,” she added.

Vibha Sharma, who started the Delhi centre a year and a half back, said: “My biggest challenge has been finding the faculty for the six compulsory courses I am running this semester.” Specialised courses are offered at JNU and Ramjas College.

Exchange programmes, such as the ones between Delhi colleges like St Stephen’s and Lady Shri Ram with American universities like Rutgers and Brown, also offer opportunities to study in India.

While these deals have been getting a few dozen American students a semester, faculty members from Indian colleges also visit US campuses for research.

St Stephen’s gets 10 to 15 American students to India every year and has tie-ups with three American institutes. However, Dr Valsan Thampu, principal of St Stephen’s, said Indian educational institutes are not organised enough to capitalise on this new surge in interest.

“Detailed planning for certain issues, like student accommodation, should be worked out. Foreign students look for accommodation with the comforts of home and that’s not easy to organise. But we need to work on this,” Thampu said.

First Published: Sep 16, 2007 01:06 IST