Fulbright to India Guide – 2021-2022

Senior Scholars

India’s first Education Policy was passed and implemented in 1986. After thirty-four years, the National Education Policy (NEP) for India was updated on July 29, 2020. The policy offers a comprehensive framework for elementary education to higher education and is set to bring major changes in the education system of India, such as a new 5+3+3+4 structure, introduction of vocational education training at younger levels, allowing top foreign universities to set up campuses in India, and a move towards institutes turning multi-disciplinary. The policy is based on the pillars of “Access, Equity, Quality, Affordability, Accountability” and aims to transform India into a vibrant knowledge hub.

Teaching in India will take place at different types of universities and colleges that vary in terms of academic/administrative arrangements.  Most of the colleges and universities are emphasizing new methods of pedagogy, specifically interactive methods, group-work and project-based learning.  Indian institutions would welcome visiting scholars who can contribute in these areas.

Indian institutions, with the exception of some of the highly reputed technical and management schools, have loosely structured lecturing schedules that require adaptability and initiative on the part of American lecturers.  In general, undergraduate colleges tend to make optimum use of visiting lecturers, so USIEF uses them widely for our lecturer placements.  

Because of year-end examinations and vacations, teaching is not possible in the majority of Indian institutions from March/April through June/July.  Grantees should take this into consideration in proposing dates for the grant period to ensure that there is sufficient teaching time in consultation with the host institute in India.

A visiting lecturer may be involved in independent teaching, team-teaching, or offering seminars and workshops at both the affiliating university and elsewhere.  USIEF may occasionally arrange lecture tours.  In addition, grantees may receive invitations from Indian institutions and the American Embassy/Consulates’ Public Affairs offices to participate in seminars, lectures, and conferences.

USIEF staff does its best to match grantees with the most suitable institutions.  As you prepare to participate in the Indian education system, there are a few considerations that may help you and your host institution plan for a successful academic experience:

The ideal time to arrive for a U.S. visiting lecturer to India is at the beginning of the academic term of the Indian institutions.

Indian institutions prefer visiting scholars to teach “electives” (called optional papers, in India).  Visiting faculty does not generally teach mandatory (compulsory) courses, because these courses are intended to prepare students for finals (year-end examinations).

Scholars on teaching grants are, in general, expected to teach 6-8 hours per week.

USIEF advises visiting lecturers to contact their host departments before arriving in India to ask if the syllabus will be prearranged or whether they will be free to decide what to teach.  Ask whether you will be team teaching with an Indian colleague, or if you will be solely responsible for a class.

It is a good idea to arrive in India with a few special lectures on your topic of expertise already prepared.  In addition to the lecturer’s weekly classroom workload, U.S. professors usually spend time advising Indian M.Phil. and Ph.D. research students and interacting with teaching staff.  Collaborating with colleagues to organize workshops and seminars is also common.

Meeting with the head of the institution on arrival is also a good idea.  It may take some time and effort to get a sense of the institutional ecosystem.  It is important to ensure that your presence on campus is well publicized through the institution’s information network.

Your academic coordinator will assist you in getting access to the library and computer resources of the institution.  Most of the affiliating institutions in India provide office space and necessary infrastructure to the visiting scholar.  Library collections, especially periodicals, are often incomplete and students may lack the required textbooks.  Departmental libraries, sometimes under the personal custody of the head of the department, are usually better stocked but access may be limited.

Traditionally, teachers are held in high regard in India, and the student-teacher relationship is generally formal.  Students address their teachers as sir/madam and will stand up to show respect and greet them when they enter the classroom.  It is important to note that, while English may be the medium of instruction, some students may have some difficulty understanding an American accent.

Initial reluctance in student classroom participation sometimes surprises U.S. lecturers.  U.S. lecturers often expect and grade on classroom participation.  Indian students are more accustomed to being “instructed” on the information to be covered on the final examination.

A lecturer should bring to India any special notes, books or other materials he/she uses to teach.  Such materials will be useful in discussions with Indian faculty colleagues, and valuable in preparing for other speaking engagements.  Bringing materials on your laptop and pen drive is a good plan if you are unsure of the availability and speed of internet facilities for downloading from your home university website and other sources you may use in the U.S. Donations of books for the library are much appreciated.

Talks and Speeches

You will be invited to address audiences of both academics and non-academics.  You may find the following suggestions by Fulbright alumni useful:

  • Enunciate clearly and speak slowly: Your pronunciation and your choice of words may be very unfamiliar to your Indian audiences.  Try to obtain feedback from your audience (Am I speaking too fast?).
  • Avoid using idioms and trade jargon that your audience may not recognize.
  • Minimize “up-speak” or “up-talk” (ending most statements with a rising intonation pattern at the end).  This may be misleading to your audience (they may think you are asking a question) or simply tiring.
  • Be prepared to speak without advance notice.  In these occasions, keep it simple and stick to subjects you know well and feel comfortable discussing.
  • Keep it short and leave time for audience questions.
  • Honesty and forthrightness are appreciated, but be aware that there are sensitive topics, such as caste, inequality and poverty that may upset your listeners.
  • Equip yourself with statistical and factual information about recurring topics of interest among Indian audiences, such as U.S. race relations, women’s rights, the education system.
  • This may sound obvious, but when you’re in India, whether you are addressing one person or a group, don’t use swear words.  Even if a term had lost its original strength in the U.S. or if you use it occasionally as filler or when you are frazzled or annoyed, be mindful.
India U.S.
Postgraduate Graduate
Staff Faculty
Faculty School (e.g., of Medicine)
Vice Chancellor President
Marks Grades
Paper Course / Examination
Main Major
Subsidiary Minor
Compulsory Paper Required Course
Optional paper Elective course
Reads a subject Takes a class
First, Second, Third Division or Class A average, B average, etc.
Marks Sheet Academic transcript
Gives an exam Takes an exam
Passing out Graduating
Convocation Commencement
‘Pass’ and Honours Refers to Bachelors study
Intermediate/Pre-University Junior College (roughly, freshman and sophomore years)
Guide Cram Book
Hostel Dormitory
Syllabus Syllabus or course outline
Reader Associate Professor
Get a seat Get Admission
Number of seats Number of vacancies
Rector Provost
Pro Vice Chancellor Vice President
Term Semester/Quarter
Co-curricular activities Extra-curricular activities
S.S.C. (Secondary School Certificate) High School Diploma
Matriculation (“matric”) Ten years of high school, or the final year of high school
Public School Private School
Government School Public School

The South and Central Asia Regional Travel Program for U.S. Fulbright Scholars provides one-time travel grant to individual U.S. Fulbright Scholars to spend a period of three to fourteen days in another South or Central Asian country during their grant period to participate in professional activities and offer local academic institutions, U.S. Embassies and Consulates, and Fulbright Commissions in South and Central Asia, the opportunity to benefit from the academic and professional expertise of U.S. Fulbright Scholars currently in the region.

The SCA Regional Travel Program will fund U.S. Fulbright Scholar participation in a variety of activities including faculty and student lectures, graduate or faculty seminars, curriculum development, public lectures, panel presentations, needs assessment, conferences, or some combination thereof.  Fulbrighters in the arts may be invited to give master classes or recitals, participate in exhibitions or workshops, or consult with cultural institutions.  The program will enable U.S. Fulbright Scholars to:

  • Present guest lectures at colleges and universities within the South and Central Asia region.
  • Share their specific research interests.
  • Be a resource for U.S. Embassy and Consulates, especially those without a U.S. Fulbright Scholar program.
  • Speak on the history, culture, and society of the United States.
  • Exchange ideas with foreign students, faculty, and local, government, non-profit and private sector organizations.
  • Examine higher education in the region.
  • Create linkages between their U.S. and host institutions.

Scholars will need to secure their own invitations for these activities.  USIEF does not assist in securing invitations from educational institutions for the purpose of a regional travel grant.  USIEF must approve all requests.

Eligible Destination Countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Maldives, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. 

Please note: 

USIEF will announce this award shortly.

Student researchers are not eligible for the SCA Regional Travel Program.

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