25% additional seats, no entrance test for foreign students: UGC’s plan to increase international exposure

Universities and institutions of higher education across the country will now be allowed to create up to 25% supernumerary seats for foreign students in their undergraduate (UG) and postgraduate (PG) programmes, the chairman of the UGC, Jagadesh Kumar.

There will be no entrance test for these admissions, Kumar said, adding that the decision was taken at a University Grants Commission (UGC) meeting held last week to discuss the “internationalization of UG programs and PG in India”. The supernumerary seats will be created above the total sanctioned endowment and the decision on these seats will be taken by the Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) concerned as per the specific guidelines and rules issued by the regulatory bodies keeping in mind the infrastructure, the teaching staff and other requirements.

“HEIs in India may admit international students based on the equivalency of their entry qualification. The equivalency shall be determined by UGC or any other body recognized by UGC for this purpose or the relevant regulatory bodies of the country. HEIs can adopt a transparent admission process to admit international students,” Kumar told PTI.

“HEIs can create up to 25% supernumerary places for international students over and above their total sanctioned enrollment for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.

“The decision on 25 per cent supernumerary seats is to be taken by the higher education institutions concerned as per the specific guidelines/regulations issued by the regulatory bodies keeping in mind the infrastructure, faculty and other requirements,” he added .

Supernumerary seats for international students will not include international students in exchange programs and through memorandum of understanding (MoU) between institutions or between the Indian government and other countries.

HEIs will also be able to admit international students through a transparent admission process as foreign universities do and that these students do not have to go through the admissions process used for admissions in India.

“The places will be reserved exclusively for international students in both undergraduate and postgraduate programs. An unfilled place in the supernumerary category will not be allocated to anyone other than an international student. International students in this context will be defined as those who hold a foreign passport,” Kumar explained.

The commission has decided that the provision for the creation of supernumerary places for international students should be formalized through the approval of the statutory body of the HEIs in accordance with the guidelines and regulations issued periodically by the regulatory bodies.

“Supernumerary places in professional and technical institutes will be governed by the respective statutory bodies. All details about the number of seats available for international students in each program, prescribed fee for the same, admission process, eligibility conditions etc. will be available on the IES website,” he said.

According to data from the Ministry of External Affairs, a total of 23,439 foreign students came to India in 2021. However, the number used to increase in the years before the pandemic.

In 2019, more than 75,000 international students had come to India for higher studies.

“Internationalization of higher education is an essential aspect of the National Education Policy 2020 and helps to integrate international and intercultural dimensions in higher education,” Kumar said.

“Opportunities to attract international students, academics and funding are growing and many university institutions in India are committed to increasing their international outreach,” Kumar said.

“In order to facilitate the internationalization of Indian HEIs, the UGC has framed the guidelines for admission and creation of supernumerary seats for international students. “The main objectives of these guidelines are to facilitate smooth and easy admission of international students to higher education institutions in India, to create an enabling environment for attracting international students to the Indian higher education system and to make the “India a preferred destination for international students,” he added.

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