Speaking at an event convened by the Association of Higher Institutions and Secondary Schools Nepal, Shishir Khanal suggested that the landlocked country could significantly increase the number of foreign students it attracts.
“Let’s make Nepal a country where we can bring the same number of students as we send abroad,” he said, according to local media reports.
Khanal acknowledged that the quality of education from primary to primary school could be improved, but said that “but by taking advantage of Nepal’s geographical location, the country can ‘become an international education hub’.”
“With the vision of building this center, it is necessary to create an environment that can bring in foreign students instead of sending students abroad,” he said.
It is unclear how many foreign students are currently in Nepal. UNESCO does not collect data for inbound mobility into the country.
Bigyan Shrestha, chairman of SoftEd Group, said the organization is working on plans to promote Nepal as an education hub in Asia.
He pointed out that UK TNE partnerships are particularly attractive to potential students, in addition to the “excellent weather, great tourist spots and the Himalayas for students to explore while studying”.
“It is a good time to look at this dimension and attract students from South Asian countries”
“Nepal has also become a hub for some world-class universities in the UK working with private colleges for TNE partnerships. Students from Asia can come to Nepal to study one or two years of undergraduate programs and transfer to the UK or some ASEAN countries that offer UK university programs in the final year,” he added.
“It is a good time for Nepal to look at this dimension and attract students from South Asian countries like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan etc.
But others question the aims of the country, which has traditionally been a source market for students rather than a destination.
Speak with World news from the university earlier this year, after the 2022 elections, the retired Tribhuvan University professor and former education specialist for UNESCO in the Asia-Pacific region called for a “total restructuring” of higher education in the country.
UWN noted that some 112,528 students – almost a quarter of Nepal’s total university students – have applied for a no-objection certificate to study in 80 countries in 2021/22. According to the Education Consultancy Association of Nepal, about 40% of those who receive NOCs tend to go abroad.
Australia has become the best destination for Nepalese students, Kathmandu Post reported in September 2022. Between January and November 2022, the 56,847 Nepali students in Australia made up about 9% of international students studying courses in the country. This compares to 4,920 Nepali students enrolled in UK universities in 2021/22.
US numbers increased by 5.6% to 11,779 students in 2021/22, making it the 11th source country for international students, while Canada approved more than 2,200 Nepali students to study in the country in 2021.
However, Shrestha continued to assert that the quality of life, safety and security of foreign students in Nepal has improved in recent years.
As secretary of the International Association of Education Providers of Nepal, Shrestha is working closely with the government on this vision, he concluded.