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Amid border standoff, Chinese student is among record 114 foreign applicants seeking admission to Haryana university

Amid the tense Indo-China border standoff and the Covid-19 pandemic, a Chinese student is keen to pursue postgraduation in Hindi from Maharshi Dayanand University (MDU), Rohtak. He is among the record 114 foreign students seeking admission to different courses at the government-run university in Haryana for the 2020-21 academic session.

Ajay Rajan, dean, centre of international academic affairs at MDU, says Guosong Zhao from China’s Henan province is among the students from 18 nations who have applied for admission this year. “We are eagerly awaiting this student’s admission. His decision to opt for India to pursue higher studies will motivate others, too,” he says.

“Students from at least 10 countries have applied for the first time. We are surprised to see such a rise in the number of foreign applications amid the Covid-19 pandemic,” Rajan says.

MDU is the only state university in Haryana attached to the central government’s Study in India portal.

SUSHMA SWARAJ’S INITIATIVE HELPS MDU

Saravjeet Singh Gill, deputy adviser of international relations, MDU, says the applications of 108 students were received through the central government’s Study in India portal and six through the Indian Council of Cultural Relations.

“We had directly invited foreign students and the admission process began on August 31. It will continue till September 15,” he says.

The university’s foreign students’ cell, which was launched from the 2013-14 session, was upgraded as the Centre for International Academic Affairs two years ago. The number of foreign students has seen a steady rise since April 2018 when former external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj’s decision to launch the portal was implemented.

Only 19 students had taken admission at MDU in 2013, 12 in 2014, six in 2015, four in 2016, seven in 2017, and 40 in 2018, 62 in 2019 and 114 this year.

Sunit Mukherjee, an assistant professor of journalism and mass communication who holds the charge of MDU’s public relations department, says the quality of education, good food, similar culture and low cost of living as compared to other universities are primary reasons behind the increase in the number of foreign students seeking admission.

“We charge an academic fee of Rs 1.67 lakh from students belonging to the Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) nations and Rs 2.07 lakh from non-Saarc nationals besides a hostel fee of Rs 30,000 a year,” he says.

MOST APPLICANTS FROM AFGHANISTAN

All students have applied for on-campus postgraduate courses.

Courses such as masters in business administration (MBA), MA (public administration), MA (political science) and postgraduate diploma in career guidance and counselling are popular among international students.

According to the university’s international relations cell, of the 108 students who applied through the Study in India portal this time, 86 are men and 22 women.

Fifty-six applicants are from Afghanistan, including 11 women students, seven each are from Bangladesh, Ethiopia and Tanzania, six from Ghana, and five are from Nigeria.

Yasmin Saifi from Afghanistan, who is enrolled in MA (public administration) at MDU, said over phone that students from her country chose India as both the countries have similar culture.

“We can speak Hindi and English easily. More students from Afghanistan are applying at MDU as this university has better infrastructure, good faculty, and a peaceful and safe environment. I’m waiting for the Government of India’s decision to resume classes so that I can return to MDU,” she says.

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