WASHINGTON, D.C (TIP): The United States is looking to triple the number of Americans going to India for higher studies in the next five years. “That is still far from our goal of 15,000 in five years,” Tara Sonenshine, the Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, told the visiting Human Resources and Development Minister, Pallam Raju, in a roundtable interaction earlier this month.
Currently, while more than 100,000 Indian students visit the United States to study every year, the number of American students who studied in India in 2011-2012 was a mere 4300 and far less than those going to China for studies. “We have to look at what are the obstacles to getting American students to go so that we can boost interest and participation,” Sonenshine said.
Robert Blake, Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, had earlier said that the American government was working with the Indian government to streamline the education visa processes, which have been repeatedly identified as a key reason for why so few American students go to India. “We recognize that there are indeed challenges and hindrances which have prevented more American students from choosing India as a destination,” Blake told students at Boston University on May 10.
“Through a grant from our Embassy in New Delhi, the US-India Educational Foundation is working with Indian institutions of higher education to encourage more U.S. students to study there, including by developing better housing and support offices for foreign students,” he said. The Obama administration has launched a “Passport to India” initiative to send more and more American students to India for studies.
The United States is also working with businesses and foundations to increase opportunities for more Americans to experience India during their college or university years through study abroad, internships, and service learning opportunities. This complements other State Department-sponsored programs for study abroad, including Fulbright, Gilman, and Critical Language scholarships. Passport to India now has ten partnerships with companies as diverse as Honeywell, United Airlines, and Citigroup, which have created hundreds of new opportunities for American students in India.