Pupils come to study in Bangladesh from different countries, including India, Pakistan, and Nepal, to pursue higher education in MBBS, and BSC in engineering and Life Sciences.
Although international students are often seen in public and private universities and medical colleges, the picture of Jahangirnagar University, the only full-fledged residential university in the country, differs completely.
There are no guidelines for international students, required admission information on the website, or specific accommodation arrangements leading to no international students.
Educationalists said that the university could not rank in Times Higher Education (THE), QS and other world rankings because of not being amicable to international students and other limitations.
According to the university registrar's office, only three international students have been admitted to the undergraduate level of the university in the last seven years. All of them are studying in the Department of Pharmacy.
Citizen of Nepal, Shams Tabriz, in the 2015-16 academic year, in the 2018-19 session Abid Hossain and Indian female student Annie Lashkar started her higher studies at Jahangirnagar University in the academic year 2019-20.
As there is no specific dormitory for foreign students, they are allocated accommodation in Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Hall, Bishwakabi Rabindranath Tagore Hall and Jahanara Imam Hall, respectively.
According to the Education Branch of the university's registrar, 2 Nepali students are studying Pharmacy, two students in the Department of Bangla and 1 Indian student in Drama and Dramatics in the MPhil course. The officials said there is no separate quota for foreign students' admission.
The Chairman of the Department of Pharmacy, Professor Dr Mohammad Didare Alam Muhsin, said, "With the scholarship, Nepali students are being admitted mostly among the foreigners. They come to study here because they've heard from former Nepali students."
About the admission process, he said, "no foreign student has been admitted since I took charge. An interview board constituted by two representatives from the department manage the entire process."
In response to the question of how to make foreign students interested in admission to the university, Professor Muhsin said, "The university administration should take initiatives in this regard. The website of the university should contain complete information about the admission process. Besides, if different campaigns can be coordinated with foreign colleges, we can get good students admitted to our university. I think separate accommodation can attract more students."
Among the public universities, 140 international students are studying at the University of Dhaka in different academic years at undergraduate, postgraduate, MPhil and PhD levels. Among them, 18 male and 20 female students have been admitted in the academic year 2021-22.
To facilitate the teaching of foreign students, 19 foreign faculty members are recruited at Dhaka University, and there is an International Hall for their accommodation.
At the University of Rajshahi, 31 foreign students have been nominated for admission for the 2021-22 session. Among them, 17 are graduate students, and 14 are postgraduate students. The university has an international dormitory called Shaheed Mir Abdul Qayyum Dormitory.
Moreover, another autonomous, Chittagong University, has a separate quota for foreign students. Most students come from Nepal, India, Bhutan, Jordan, Somalia, and Nigeria. There is no such arrangement at Jahangirnagar University.
For the World University Rankings, Times Higher Education (THE) scrutinises the universities on five parameters: teaching, citations, research, international outlook, and industry income. These are further divided into 13 carefully crafted performance indicators - the proportion of international students, proportion of international staff and international collaboration are seemed to be decisive factors.
Regarding the nonexistence of the university in the world ranking, Director of the Institute of Information Technology (IIT) Professor M Shamim Kaiser said, "We have sent applications to be in the Times Higher Education, QS ranking. If we can increase Foreign faculties and students, sign Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), and collaborate with various industries, we can also be placed in the world ranking."
Regarding not being able to attract foreign students, he said, "There is no information on our university website about whether foreign students can get admission? or how to apply. Other universities publish their admission information at various embassies. But so far, we have not taken such steps. (After the inauguration of the new hall) The accommodation crisis is satisfied if a separate cell is created and admission information can be published on the website, the number of international students will increase. Separate dormitories can be arranged for students."
In this regard, the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Dr Nurul Alam, said, "There are separate arrangements for foreign students in the new halls under construction. In future, the number of international students will increase. We are planning to send our admission information to the high-commissions of different countries."