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Globalisation of Indian education in the post-pandemic age

Globalisation of Indian education in the post-pandemic age

The new national education policy (NEP) released by the government of India in 2020 outlines a grand outlook for the future of education in India, presenting a sweeping vision for the higher education institutions (HEI) in India.

While there is a focus on making higher education affordable, high-quality, inclusive and available to all eligible citizens of India, there is also a renewed interest in internationalisation of HEI programme, and promoting India as an education hub.

Meanwhile, the pandemic challenged educational institutions but also opened up opportunities for globalisation. In this article, we focus on a discussion of internationalisation of postgraduate programmes, broadly in engineering education.

The internationalisation focus is predicated on the following imperatives: (i) the best learning happens in cultural melting pots, (ii) enhancing capacity in our immediate neighborhood should be a priority (iii) India as a global study destination and (iv) deriving economic benefit out of the global knowledge economy.


Multicultural environments are important in order to provide a holistic education — after all, learning is all about viewing a subject from myriad perspectives.

As many of the institutions of higher education are also “campuses” – wherein students live and learn, diverse groups of individuals contribute to the overall growth and development of institutions.

However, access to these emerging opportunities is not uniform due to economic, political and cultural reasons, a ‘free flow’ of students into educational institutions across the world is not a given.

The acceptance of online forms of learning, bolstered by the pandemic related border closures, has only mitigated this constraint partially.


Germany provided equipment, faculty and know-how when IIT Madras was being established, whereas IIT Kanpur received similar assistance from the United States.

The internationalisation articulations in the NEP seem to be a call for arms for well-established institutions such as the IITs to go forward, particularly in our immediate neighborhood and in countries in Africa, to capacitate them for future needs, in similar manner.

The learning accumulated in Indian educational institutions is an advantage, and our ability to quickly scale educational offerings, particularly in engineering, to meet growing needs of the country can be immediately ported to others requiring these interventions.

Challenges include affordability for the students, and the need for recognition and accreditation of Indian degrees, locally.


Higher education in interdisciplinary areas such as quantum technology, data science, cyber physical systems and so on, is fast emerging as India’s strength. Such programmes are not available in many of our neighboring countries. India can play the role of ‘Vishwa Guru’ in bringing these to the neighborhood.

The acceptance of purely web-based and hybrid learning provides us with multiple options for taking Indian HEI programmes to countries abroad, with minimal infrastructure requirements.

We could work with partner institutions abroad in developing courses at the undergraduate level that will equip students aspiring for the interdisciplinary programs with the necessary background to ensure success.


There is a significant economic opportunity in internationalising the cutting-edge programs offered by Indian institutions. International student tuition can be a game-changer for Indian HEIs like it is for Australia and other countries.

As international postgraduates from the Indian HEIs become globally successful, the potential will increase further as well.

Some of the challenges include the perception of India as a developing country, and apprehensions regarding the quality of education on offer.

Jobs and careers post-graduation, which are accessible to high performing international students in the US, Canada and Australia, may be difficult in India currently.

Changes to our immigration policies in terms of work visas are needed to access the economic benefits of internalisation of Indian education.

These are exciting times for Indian HEIs, and crafting the unique Indian educational offering to the world is well within reach. There is an overarching vision for HEIs articulated in the NEP.

Further, tremendous strides are being made in the research and teaching infrastructure of the country. Online education, including massive homegrown platforms such as NPTEL, provide the foundation on which to dictate India’s success in internationalisation.

In addition, agile policies regarding student recruitment, credit transfers, and academic partnerships with high ranked institutions abroad, will pave the way forward.

With our long dedication to quality education, the ability to scale quickly to meet growing demands of large populations, and the power of a big cohort of qualified academics, India is well-placed to bring her educational might to the world.

We hope there will be a very strong focus on globalisation of Indian education, via rational national debates and policy changes, aimed at addressing the opportunities and the challenges in a balanced manner.

– Article by Dr. Raghunathan Rengaswamy, Dean (Global Engagement) and a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Madras; and Dr. Preeti Aghalayam, a Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Madras.


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