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JNU to Target SAARC and Gulf Students

NEW DELHI, 4 September 2007 - With not just Indians, but also foreign students and nonresident Indians (NRIs) aspiring in increasing numbers to gain admission to Indian universities, India is now witnessing the reverse "brain drain."

Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), placed among the top 200 universities of the world, according to a survey by The Times, plans to open more examination centers in other countries to help students there secure admission to JNU.

The university is keen to open such centers in the Gulf and SAARC (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) countries. H.B. Bahidar, chief proctor of JNU, said: "We do not have a center in the Gulf. The center in Bahrain will help aspiring expatriate Indians to sit for the test and pursue studies with us." The new importance being assumed by the concept of "edutourism" is marked by the capital city's premier universities, having at present about 1,500 foreign students. JNU alone has about 250 foreign students enrolled for its undergraduate and postgraduate courses. The 2007 admission notice consisted of a 25 percent seat reservation for international students.

With marked improvement in India-Pakistan relations, JNU plans to open examination center in Pakistan too. "The center will help aspiring students from Pakistan to write the entrance test there. Then they will come and study on campus here," Bahidar said.

JNU plans to open such centers in all SAARC countries. Bahidar said: "Now we have centers in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. We are getting a good number of students from these countries. In due course, we will open such centers in all SAARC countries." Although opening such centers has long been on the university's agenda, cool diplomatic ties between New Delhi and Islamabad restrained the university from setting up a center in Pakistan. "The major factor is the relationship between both countries. We consider whether we can continue the center in the long run. Now in view of the growing bonhomie, the proposal seems very much feasible," Bahidar said.

Once the proposal is approved by the university's academic council, JNU will be able to set up a center in Pakistan. Within the country alone, entrance examination for the current academic year was held at 51 towns and cities.

JNU also plans to start new courses in media studies and nano science and technology during the 11th plan period. "The plan to open new courses is under consideration by the Planning Commission and UGC (University Grants Commission). Once approved, we will start the courses," Bahidar said.

Established in 1969 and spread over four square kilometers, JNU is mainly a research-oriented postgraduate university with about 5,500 students. Recognized as one of the most prestigious institutions of Asia, JNU has exchange programs and academic collaborations with 71 universities across the world. The list includes Yale University (USA), George Washington University (USA), University of Illinois (USA), University of North Carolina (USA), SOAS (London University), Lancaster University (UK), Ankara University (Turkey) and MVL Moscow State University (Russia), among others. Several leading politicians, including Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, have served as guest lecturers here.

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