Swaminarayan Akshardham in New Delhi, India's capital city.
Overseas students in India decline
The number of international students at higher education institutions in India in the 2014/15 academic year declined by 2.2 per cent on the previous year to 30,423 students, while their share among the total number of students was just 0.61 per cent.

The figures come from the Internationalisation of Higher Education in India report by the Association of Indian Universities (AIU), a body under the country's Ministry of Human Resource Development, which collected data from 208 universities/university-level institutions.


The report states that the current share of university-level international students in India is "abysmally low" and that, by law, institutions can admit a share of international students of up to 15 per cent into the total student body. Of the 33 million students enrolled in higher education in the country, this would amount to 4.85 million overseas students.


Looking back over the past 30 years, the actual number of overseas students at HE institutions in the country has fluctuated. In 1986, the number was 10,877, which then fell to an all-time low of 5,323 in 1998. Since then, the number steadily increased to reach a peak of 31,126 international students in the 2013/14 academic year.


The number of countries where students are coming from has risen from 60 countries in 1986 to 149 in 2014. Asia and Africa have traditionally dominated as source continents, but now Asia is comfortably the top source continent with 60.2 per cent.


The top three source countries from Asia were Nepal (5,580 students - 30 per cent of the Asia share and 18 per cent of the total international student share), Afghanistan (2,732 students - nine per cent of the total share), and Malaysia (1,357 students - 4.5 per cent of the total share).


Africa, which constituted nearly 40 per cent of the total number of international students in 1995, has seen its share decline to 19.3 per cent. The report looked further into the African market, revealing the top three source countries as Nigeria (1,202 students), Ethiopia (815) and Tanzania (492).


Elsewhere, the number of students from the Americas was 1,033 (3.4 per cent of the total share) and from Europe just 490 (1.6 per cent).


Indira Gandhi National Open University in New Delhi was the institution with the highest number of international students (3,022 - 10 per cent share of the total number of students), followed by the University of Pune (1,896 students) and Rajiv Gandhi University of Health Sciences, Bangalore (1,842).


The percentage of international students on undergraduate degrees was 71.2 per cent, with 21.3 per cent studying on postgraduate degrees and 4.2 per cent on doctoral (the remaining percentage was for 'other' programmes).


The ratio of male to female students was 2:1, with Africa representing the lowest percentage of female students (24 per cent) compared to male, while Oceania (60.8 per cent) and the Americas (56.7 per cent) had the highest.


In 2014, a consortium of Indian educational institutions came to London, UK, with the aim of promoting higher education in India, while in 2016 Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) made the decision to hold entrance tests outside of the country this year in a bid to attract more international students.


By Georgina Deacon

Staff Journalist