Published: 21st August 2018
Education tourism to woo foreign students to Kerala
Cusat, Calicut and Kannur university also have a handful of foreign students. As per the trend, the number of foreign students enrolling in state universities has been increasing year after year
In an effort to bring in more foreign students to study in various universities across Kerala, the government came up with the concept of education tourism, a system which provides students with an educational experience of international standards, along with the benefits of tourism.
Though it is the prerogative of universities to proceed with the concept, the government has started preliminary proceedings by raising funds through Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) to implement the plan, a source said.
At present, a total of 48 students from various countries are pursuing their higher education under the University of Kerala. Of whom, 25 are PhD students, 13 are post-graduate students and 10 more have taken up various undergrad courses.
Similarly, Cusat, Calicut and Kannur university also have a handful of foreign students. As per the trend, the number of foreign students enrolling in state universities has been increasing year after year. However, the quality of physical infrastructure provided to them remains poor. This could be a major reason for the government to develop an international hub for education complementing with the state tourism development.
For instance, the Kerala University has a hostel named 'International Hostel ' at PMG junction which provides accommodation to foreign students. However, the hostel is plagued with a dearth of facilities, including food catering to their needs.
Sources said that many students, especially from African countries, Iran, Yemen and Ethiopia, are not getting adjusted to the local food being provided at the mess in the hostel. The fee and other expenses of financially backward students from some African countries are being shouldered by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations - Kerala while some students have the financial capability to meet their own expenses.
“Though we have courses which are competent enough with the international universities, we could not cater to the physical infrastructure. We are apprehensive about the situation that we could not cater to the needs of the students. They can't accept our food and culture. Hence, the university is planning to start an exclusive mess for them at the university hostel campus itself,” said a top officer of the Kerala University.
Apart from the shortage of infrastructure, the number of seats allotted to the foreign students are also limited. Usha Titus, Principal Secretary, Higher Education Department, said, “This has the potential to be a game-changer in the higher education system if a quality infrastructure is in place for attracting more foreign students.”
She added that the universities would become centres of academic excellence. Education and tourism are proportionate. “Once we provide a quality education of international standards, the tourism will also be developed. Eventually, the state universities have to become an international hub for higher education. The government has asked the universities to upgrade the standards so that more students from other countries can study here. Efforts are to raise fund through KIIFB,” Usha said.