India losing South Asian students to China, claims study

India losing South Asian students to China, claims study

India is losing its attractiveness and appeal as a study abroad destination for South Asian students to China, a study by Brookings India has claimed.

A recent Brookings India study “Is India Still the Neighbourhood’s Education Hub?” showed that, over the years, India has started to lose its position as the main educational hub in the region to China.

Latest statistics show that both China and India receive the same number of South Asian students.

Half of the foreign student population in India is from South Asia but this has been on a decline.

The yearly growth of the number of foreign students from South Asia in India has decreased from 30% in the year 2011- 2012 to 9% in 2018 – 2019.

These statistics, the study says, reveal the power shift in this region.

Brookings India says that, in order to overcome this drop in appeal and to maintain its status as a powerful educational hub, India has to implement certain steps to attract more South Asian students.

6 recommendations made for India to stay attractive for South Asian students

Brookings India has laid out 5 steps which it believes will help regain and consolidate its attractive to South Asian students.

Firstly, the study recommends India should subsidise fees for PHD students from neighbouring N8 countries as this will allow India to enhance its research power and increase enrolment as well.

Secondly, the study calls for the Indian government to introduce relaxed working rights for South Asian students who gained their education in India.

Thirdly, the study has asked for a body such as ICCR to offer scholarships to South Asian students in collaboration with their foreign counterparts, where the students can also study under foreign exchange programmes.

Fourthly, Brookings India called for the University Grants Commission (UGC) to collaborate with universities of neighbouring countries on various research projects as well as exchange students and faculty.

Penultimately, the study suggested India should cash in on its National Knowledge Network partnerships and try to further expand them and fully utilise the benefits of Information Technology.

Finally, the study recommended that the Association of Indian Universities and Ministry of Human Resource Development should look into collaborating to promote India as an educational hub in the neighbouring countries.

Brookings recommended the organisations could hold annual fairs and run campaigns to attract South Asian students to India and solidify its position in the education market.

The study emphasised that, by being an educational hub, India would be able to enhance its political ties as well as spread its cultural influence to its neighbouring countries.

Pic: Caio Resende

Zahra Hamdani - Reporter, Global Education Times (GET News)

Zahra Hamdani is an Ireland-based reporter for Global Education Times who focuses on European and South Asian education news. When she is not writing for GET News, Zahra is a school-teacher and educationist with experience in both Primary and Secondary schools in the Republic of Ireland as well as in Pakistan.

You can reach Zahra at

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