Tapping on the “peace dividends”, the Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology-Kashmir (SKUAST-K) on Monday threw open admissions to foreign students in the Valley, for the first time ever, and is in the process of inviting ambassadors of foreign countries stationed in India to “infuse confidence about the changing situation in J&K”.
“Kashmir lagged behind because of what struck in the 1990s. We witnessed the collapse of institutions. Otherwise, Kashmir would have been a hub of knowledge export. Now, we are getting a level field. We are confident of reversing what was lost. As a first step, admission of foreign students has started this year in a big way,” said Dr. Nazir A. Ganai.
The brochure to admit foreign students for graduate, post-graduate and doctorate courses was launched on Monday on the SKUAST-K’s main campus in Srinagar’s Shalimar. It offers to admit foreign students twice a year for the autumn and the spring sessions, unlike only autumn sessions for the national students.
“This will allow foreign students to process their applications without wasting time. The admission process will be easy and based on credits, the way foreign universities attract our students. Kashmir will provide the best platform to allow students to test their innovations, given the geographical location,” Mr. Ganai said.
The brochure points out how the situation has changed in Kashmir under the BJP rule and after downgrading of Article 370 in 2019.
With the new political initiatives taken by the present government, the internal peace, prosperity and tranquility has been restored to Kashmir, which was evident from millions of tourists who visited in 2022. It’s an important component for welcoming students from abroad, the brochure reads.
“We are planning to invite ambassadors of foreign countries to Kashmir soon for an education fair. We will also involve the Indian consulates present across the globe to promote the admission scheme overseas,” Mr. Ganai said.
The varsity aims to focus on students from Central Asia, Middle East and Eastern Europe to begin with. “The courses will be cost effective for foreign students. We offer the best faculty and keep going up the ladder of ranks in India on many counts, including innovation,” Mr. Ganai said.
J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha has been backing the efforts of the varsity to bring in foreign students. This admission will be over-and-above the quota and could go up to 25 per cent of the total seats.
“This is an ambitious project. We intend to create an ecosystem and motivate others too. It will boost education tourism too. Students might not need to go places like Bangladesh and Ukraine,” Mr. Ganai said.
The varsity hoped that foreign students would help in the much needed inter-mingling of cultures. “Our ‘Kashmiriyat’ culture is all about peace, harmony and love. Time has come to export this idea to the outside world. Kashmir is also a crime-free zone,” the V-C said.
The varsity has decided to allow foreign students to shape up their curriculum preferences. “We are offering degrees by design system. It is students who will get to decide about the curriculum. We offer sandwich courses. Our doctorate degrees will offer cross-university exposure and will be a dual-degree system from two campuses for greater exposure,” he added.
The SKUAST-K has multiple campuses in the Valley offering different courses, with many campuses located outside capital Srinagar.