Thursday, May 14, 2009

Colleges, varsities fail to attract foreign students

PATNA: Even as the University Grants Commission (UGC) and the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) have, of late, been encouraging
universities to attract more and more foreign students, the number of overseas students studying in different universities of the state has declined considerably in recent times.

In its recent communication to the universities, the UGC has sought detailed information on international collaborations in academics and research and the number of overseas students pursuing different courses. But, as things stand today, not a single student can be found studying in any college or university department, though Magadh University is an exception where some scholars from South-East Asian countries are enrolled in the department of Ancient Indian and Asian Studies.

Until about two decades back, at least 50 students from countries like Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Iran and Sri Lanka used to study different courses in Patna University alone. But, at present, the number of foreign students admitted to the university has come to a naught. The number of foreign students studying in other universities like L N Mithila, T M Bhagalpur, BRA Bihar, Veer Kuar Singh, B N Mandal and Jayaprakash universities is also nil.

So far as international collaboration is concerned, hardly one or two institutions of the state have signed any MoU with any foreign university for academic collaboration. Last year, PU was selected as one of the 10 universities in India to join Indo-French consortium of universities, but no significant development in this field has been made so far. PU vice-chancellor Shyam Lal has been encouraging the postgraduate science departments to go in for international collaboration in their specialised areas of research. Faculty members are also being encouraged to visit foreign universities for academic purposes for which the UGC has been providing liberal financial assistance.

According to some senior academicians, the decline in the number of foreign students studying in the state's various universities was mainly due to irregular academic sessions and lack of an environment conducive to academic excellence. Why should students from far off places come to study in Bihar, if there were no teachers to teach and if the universities have no attractive courses to offer, was their common refrain.

Many students from South-Eastern and even European countries appeared to be eager to do courses on Indian culture and society, religions, social linguistics, Indian polity and economy, Buddhist studies, biodiversity and aquaculture. The state universities would certainly attract foreign students if these courses are introduced properly and all the vacant posts of teachers are filled, they added.

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