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Why Bangladeshi students prefer India over China for higher education

Published : Monday, 24 June, 2024 at 12:00 AM  Count : 400

Why Bangladeshi students prefer India over China for higher education

Why Bangladeshi students prefer India over China for higher education

In recent years, a significant shift has been observed in the preferences of South Asian students when it comes to choosing a destination for higher education. Notably, India has emerged as a more favored option compared to China. This trend is especially prominent among students from Bangladesh, who are increasingly opting for Indian universities. Several factors contribute to this preference, ranging from competitive scholarships and the quality of education to cultural similarities and diplomatic relations. In contrast, Chinas appeal to international students seems to be waning. Lets delve into the reasons behind this phenomenon and highlights why India stands out as an attractive destination for higher education.

One of the primary attractions for Bangladeshi students is the prestigious and highly competitive Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) Scholarship. This scholarship program is renowned for its comprehensive coverage, offering full financial support for undergraduate, masters, and Ph.D. programs. The ICCR Scholarship is not just a financial boon but a gateway to some of Indias top institutions, including the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs) and National Institutes of Technology (NITs). The sheer competitiveness of this scholarship underscores its value; only the most meritorious students are selected, making it a coveted opportunity.

The ICCR Scholarship covers tuition fees, accommodation, and even provides a monthly stipend. This extensive support ensures that students can focus entirely on their studies without the burden of financial stress. In contrast, Chinas government scholarships have not been able to attract a similar level of enthusiasm. Despite being available, many of these scholarships remain vacant, suggesting a lack of appeal among prospective students.

Indias education system has garnered global recognition for its emphasis on quality and innovation. In the QS World University Rankings 2024, India boasts 148 universities, making it the most represented higher education system in Asia. China, although close, has 133 universities on the list. This distinction highlights Indias superior academic reputation and the global recognition of its educational institutions.

The strength of Indias education system is particularly evident in fields like Information Technology (IT), where Indian professionals and researchers dominate the global landscape. Indian universities are known for their rigorous academic standards and research output, which are crucial for students aiming to excel in their careers. The widespread use of English as the medium of instruction further enhances Indias attractiveness, making it easier for international students to integrate and excel.

Cultural similarities between India and Bangladesh play a significant role in shaping educational preferences. Both countries share a rich history, cultural heritage, and linguistic similarities that make the transition smoother for Bangladeshi students. This cultural affinity is complemented by strong diplomatic relations between the two nations. The commendable relationship between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina of Bangladesh and the Indian government has facilitated educational exchanges and increased the number of ICCR scholarships available to Bangladeshi students.

Just a few years ago, only about 200 Bangladeshi students were awarded the ICCR Scholarship annually. Thanks to diplomatic efforts, this number has now risen to 500, marking a significant achievement for the Hasina government. This increase not only underscores the strong bilateral ties but also opens up more opportunities for Bangladeshi students to pursue higher education in prestigious Indian institutions.

While India continues to attract international students, China faces several challenges. Issues such as the lack of transparency, restrictive laws, and limited freedom of expression create an uncertain and often unwelcoming environment for foreign students. The Chinese governments policies, such as the Anti-Espionage Law, lack clear implementation guidelines, leading to misunderstandings and a sense of insecurity among international students.

Furthermore, the perception of limited academic freedom and the potential for political interference in research discourage students from considering China as a viable option. The decline in the number of international students, particularly from developed countries, underscores these concerns. In contrast, Indias democratic environment, academic freedom, and transparent policies offer a more conducive atmosphere for international students.

India also stands out for its affordable education and living costs. Compared to other popular study destinations, the cost of education in India is relatively low, making it an attractive option for students from Bangladesh and other South Asian countries. The vibrant multicultural society in India offers a rich and diverse experience, allowing international students to explore different cultures, cuisines, and traditions while pursuing their studies.

The economic landscape in India is also favorable, with ample opportunities for internships and employment in various sectors. The thriving IT industry, in particular, provides a platform for students to gain practical experience and enhance their career prospects.

While pursuing education abroad is beneficial, it is crucial for students to return to their home countries and contribute to their development. The phenomenon of brain drain, where talented individuals settle abroad, can have adverse effects on their home countrys progress. Therefore, it is essential for Bangladeshi students to leverage their education and skills acquired in India and return to contribute to the socio-economic development of Bangladesh.

Indias rise as a preferred destination for higher education among South Asian students, particularly from Bangladesh, is driven by a combination of competitive scholarships, high-quality education, cultural affinity, and strong diplomatic ties. In contrast, Chinas inability to attract and retain international students highlights the challenges it faces in creating a welcoming and secure environment. As India continues to enhance its educational offerings and foster international collaborations, it is poised to remain a leading hub for higher education in Asia, surpassing China in attracting global talent.

The writer is a former Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) scholar, holding a B.Tech in Electrical Engineering from NIT Durgapur, India

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