In a bid to attract more international talent, the prestigious IITs for the first time are planning to hold their entrance tests in Singapore, UAE, Ethiopia and SAARC nations next year to select foreign students for undergraduate and postgraduate courses.
At a recent meeting between officials of HRD and External Affairs ministries, eight countries including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka (all SAARC member nations), Ethiopia in Africa, Singapore and Dubai (UAE) have been zeroed in on for holding entrance tests for foreign nationals from next year onwards.
“The entrance tests to the IITs abroad have been held till now only to admit Indian nationals. This is for the first time that it has been planned to admit foreign students through tests held abroad. It is aimed that the plan would be operationalised from the JEE/GATE exams to be conducted in 2017,” a senior member of HRD Ministry said.
The students will be selected through a common entrance exam which would be administered by the IIT with the help of Indian missions in these countries.
Officials, however, added that seats to be offered to foreign nationals would be supernumerary or additional in nature and would not reduce those available to Indian nationals at the 18 IITs.
The fee applicable in the case of foreign students will also be more as the subsidised fee which Indians pay would not be applicable to them.
To facilitate these foreign students, MEA will consider giving them research visa for the duration of the programme rather than one year at a time, officials added.
While the test is to be held in 2017, the outreach programme for the exercise would begin from August this year and will be conducted in all the eight countries. IIT Mumbai has been asked to prepare the necessary information material for this outreach. It would include details of the tests, the courses and FAQs. A web portal may be created for this purpose, sources said.
The Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) will be the nodal agency on behalf of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for these tests.
Earlier, IIT-M Director had prepared a report on comprehensive system to attract international students to the IITs. After the report was prepared, Khakhar was asked to prepare a detailed plan for conducting JEE and GATE exams abroad.
It is learnt that the government is keen on more foreign students studying at IITs as it could boost their international academic rankings.