Government scholarships for Indian students overseas are gaining in popularity, particularly in the Gulf countries, with a ‘record number’ of over 400 applications being received this year under a scheme being implemented by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs. For the first time a good number of applications also came from Sri Lanka, according to official sources.
There were 87 applicants from Oman, 76 from Kuwait, 60 from Saudi Arabia, 31 from UAE and 27 from Bahrain. For the first time, as many as 78 applications were received from Sri Lanka when the deadline for the submission of applications ended last month. The scholarship scheme was introduced in 2006 and has so far benefited 220 Indian students living in different countries.
The applicants will have to take a common entrance test on October 26. The test will be held in 40 selected countries where there is a large concentration of persons of Indian origin and NRIs. There has been a major change in the schedule this year to help students take “a timely decision regarding their educational career”. The exam used to be held during April-May in the previous years. This change was effected by the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs to make it possible for the selected students to join the respective educational institutions from the academic year beginning July-August, 2009. The Ministry has decided to complete the whole selection process for the scholarship by November, 2008.
About 100 scholarships are being offered for undergraduate courses in several disciplines, including engineering, architecture, technology, humanities, liberal arts, commerce, management—BBA,BBM, journalism, hotel management, agriculture, animal husbandry, sciences, law and so on. The scholarship amount provided is limited to 75 per cent of the Institutional Economic Cost (IEC) or US $ 3,600, whichever is lesser. IEC includes tuition fee, hostel fee and other institutional charges. Fifty percent of the scholarships are reserved for persons of Indian origin (PIO), but they can be allotted to NRI candidates as well in the absence of enough PIO candidates. NRI candidates would be eligible for the scholarship only if their total family income per month does not exceed an amount equivalent to US $ 2,250.
The scheme seeks to help make higher education in India accessible to the children of overseas Indians and promote India as an education hub. Indian youth living in developing countries with inadequate educational facilities or fewer opportunities for higher studies and in countries where there is a significant concentration of Indians can benefit from the scheme. Children of NRIs should have pursued at least three years of education inclusive of 11th and 12th standard or equivalent (not beyond), in a foreign country during the last six years, and should have passed the qualifying examination abroad. PIO and NRI students already studying in India will not be eligible under this scheme, which is open only for fresh admissions in the first semester or year of the undergraduate course.