Foreign students heading for Chandigarh again

July 26th, 2008 - 11:07 am ICT by IANS  

By Alkesh Sharma
Chandigarh, July 26 (IANS) Students from countries like Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan are once again lining up at the city’s higher education institutions, which had seen a decline in the number of foreign scholars due to terrorism in Punjab in the 80s and early 90s. Chandigarh is the biggest educational hub in the northern states of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir with nearly 40 graduate, post-graduate and professional institutions in the 114-sq km city.

In the 2007-08 session, 300 foreign students came to Panjab University and its affiliated colleges in Chandigarh, registering a growth of 25 percent compared to previous years.

“Easy proximity to the national capital region (NCR) makes Chandigarh a hot destination among foreign students. Here infrastructure and opportunities available are on par with any other modern city of the world,” Shelley Walia, dean, international students, Panjab University, told IANS.

An official of the department of foreign students at Panjab University said: “Most of the foreign students are mainly interested in doctorate and post-graduate courses. A huge chunk of them is coming from Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Last year we had 65 students from Afghanistan. We have two to five students each from countries like Nepal, Ethiopia, Yemen, Austria and Sri Lanka.”

This year the university is expecting an all time high number of foreign students as there have been scores of queries from them, added the official.

To woo more foreign students, the Chandigarh administration has also made special arrangements for their initial accommodation by earmarking some rooms for them in a government hostel in Sector 15.

There is a special department in the university to address problems faced by foreign students.

“People here are very helpful and there is no police harassment in Chandigarh if we compare it with other cities,” said Parviz Shaikh who has come from Iraq to pursue a PhD in English literature.

“Cities like Delhi and Mumbai are very expensive and are already saturated. Moreover, many MNCs are stationed here, so there is an immense scope of jobs and growth in Chandigarh.”

Said Walia: “The university is also planning to come up with an international hostel for foreign students, keeping in view their special requirements in terms of food and recreational facilities.”

“To bring more foreign students to Chandigarh, we are contemplating starting a course on ‘discovering India’ very soon. There will be 30 seats for the course and we will invite foreign students to study Indian culture and history as part of the course,” Walia added.

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