In less than a decade, the number of foreign students coming to India for studies has increased by nearly 42 per cent. However, the countries that send students to India have remained roughly the same over the years, with a large portion coming from South Asian countries and Nepal accounting for the largest share, Indian government data shows.
In fact, countries such as Malaysia and Bhutan, which used to send large numbers of students to India, saw their numbers decline as educational facilities improved locally.
According to data from the All India Survey on Higher Education (AISHE) for seven years – from 2012-13 to 2019-20, the number of foreign students in India has increased from 34,774 in 2012-13 to 49,348 in 2019-20.
An analysis of seven years of data shows that Nepal sends the highest number of students to India, followed by Afghanistan. In the last two-three years, the number of students from Bangladesh has increased, while the number of students from Bhutan and Malaysia has decreased. Imports from Iraq and Iran have also declined in recent years.
Most foreign students coming to India enrol for undergraduate programs, followed by postgraduate and then PhD, the data shows. Only a handful come for the certificate course. Science subjects are most preferred. It is followed by Business Administration. The number of students studying humanities is less.
A professor at Jamia Millia Islamia university said, “Of late, scholarships for students from Bangladesh have gone up, which is why more Bangladeshi students are now coming to India. As far as Malaysia and Bhutan are concerned, both countries have higher education institutions at home now. So fewer students are coming to India.”