New Delhi, Sept. 23: The human resource development ministry plans to sponsor a certain number of Indian students for PhD and MPhil courses in leading foreign universities every year.
It has asked higher education regulator University Grants Commission (UGC) to work out details such as the number of students to be sponsored and the institutions with which the arrangement would be sought. “The focus may be on science and technology,” a ministry source said.
The scheme will have a proviso saying these scholars must return after completing their studies and teach at a government institution in India for a specified period.
Several foreign institutions, such as King’s College London, have been asking the Centre to start such a scheme and offered seats. The idea gathered steam further after Brazil began a similar scheme for its undergraduate students last year, inspired by China.
Brazil’s government, which provides a year’s scholarships, had asked New Delhi to suggest reputable Indian institutions with which its students should enrol.
India’s health ministry now sponsors medical studies abroad for some. Scholarships are available in some Commonwealth countries under a joint initiative by the grouping, and several nations such as Japan themselves sponsor some Indian students’ studies on their soil.
However, the human resource development ministry, which handles education, never had any such scheme.
King’s College London recently sent a proposal to the Centre to start such a scholarship scheme, its vice-principal Keith Hoggart told The Telegraph during his recent India visit.
“We have said India should sponsor at least 20 students every year for higher studies (PhD) at King’s College,” he said, adding that the Centre may need to spend £2,200 (about Rs 1.9 lakh) a year per student.
He said these students could help India reduce the 30 to 40 per cent teacher vacancies that its higher education institutions face.
“Brazil started a similar scheme after it found that China had benefited immensely from such a scholarship programme,” Hoggart said.
In 1980, China accounted for just 692 research papers with citations; by 2005 the figure had risen a hundred fold to 72,362.
Former Delhi University vice-chancellor Deepak Pental said the scheme should have been started earlier.
“I feel 50 per cent of our teachers need to go abroad for PhD or postdoctoral research. We lack competent people in most streams,” he said, citing the examples of genetics, econometrics and education psychology.
Pental said the government should identify and prioritise such streams for the scholarship.
He added that US institutions would be best because they offer course work before PhD.
Pental said that while drawing up the policy, the UGC should consult science organisations such as the science and technology department, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, and science academies.