India hosts about 54,000 foreign students, but most universities use different criteria for admission. Govt says common entrance test will make things uniform.

New Delhi: Foreign students wanting to study at any Indian institution will now have to write a common entrance test on the lines of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) used in the US and Canada.

The test, to be known as InSAT, will begin next year, said senior officials in the Ministry of Human Resource Development.

InSAT will be an online aptitude test that will test basic knowledge of students, including verbal, analytical and quantitative reasoning. The scores will be used as a qualification for getting admission to Indian universities. Until now, students had to write individual entrance tests for each university they sought admission in.

The modalities of the test are still being worked out, and the ministry is consulting with the universities. According to the All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE), India currently hosts about 54,000 international students, but HRD ministry sources said there is some anomaly between other ministries’ data and theirs.

“A common aptitude test like InSAT is being brought in because so far there are many anomalies in the foreign student admissions. Every institute is doing the admissions in their own way, and hence we are not able to keep a uniform data of the students. With a common entrance test, things will become more uniform,” said a senior HRD ministry official.

A common entrance test is a norm for admission in the US, Canada, UK and some Asian countries. The GRE is the most common such test, accepted by all universities in the US and Canada, some in the UK and some universities in Singapore as well.

InSAT will initially be conducted in the 30 countries India is targeting under the “Study in India” programme, including Nepal, Vietnam, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Thailand, Malaysia, Egypt, Kuwait, Iran, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Rwanda. Going forward, the government plans to make it more prominent in the foreign students’ admission process.

Admission process right now

Different universities and colleges have their own admission processes for foreign students — while some conduct their own entrance tests, others give admission on the basis of marks in senior secondary exams.

The Indian Institutes of Technology ask for Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Advanced qualification, the same criteria used for Indian students.

Delhi University gives admission on the basis of class XII scores for general courses, with some rebate on the cut-off marks to foreign students.

For MBA programmes, a GMAT score is required. These programmes have a ‘Foreign Students’ Registry’ that manages admissions for foreign nationals.

Amity University, a private institution with a large number of foreign students, accepts TOEFL and class XII scores.

Sharda University, another private university that gets a large number of foreign students, conducts its own entrance test.

According to the AISHE, the top choice among foreign students is Bacherlor of Technology, followed by Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), Bachelor of Science and then Bachelor of Arts. The latest figures from 2018-19 show that colleges in Karnataka had the highest number of foreign students.

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