There was a 17.8% increase in the number of Indian students going abroad for studies in 2015 with 350,000 students having enrolled themselves in foreign universities last year, said a recent report published on international student mobility.
According to a recent report, “Indian Students Mobility — Latest Trends from India and Globally: MMA (2016)”, nearly 85% of Indian student mobility is seen in five countries, viz., the US, UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The US topped the list with 30% more students going there, followed by New Zealand, Australia and Canada. However, UK saw a drop of 7.24% in the number of Indian students opting to study there. Overall, an astounding 1,33,000 Indian students were enrolled in American universities in 2015 which accounted for 13.6% of the total US market.
Another boost seen from India’s trends is for undergraduate courses. In the US, Indian students’ number dropped half a percent in 2014 from the previous year. However, in 2015 the number increased by a massive 30.3% with 16,500 students enrolling themselves.
In the last six years Australia and UK lost 48,409 and 15,745 students, respectively, in incremental losses. On the other hand, countries which saw incremental gains in students during the period were Canada (41,435), USA (29,628) and New Zealand (11,841). Graduate numbers of Indian students went up by 39.3%. According to Naveen Chopra, chairman of the Chopras consultancy in Delhi, US remains the most popular destination for students seeking admissions abroad followed by Australia, Canada and the UK. Dr Syed Khan, former advisor USIEF, Delhi and founder of Branta LLC consultancy in Seattle, said, “A foreign degree is much more than just an academic qualification. There is a value addition that is there for sure. You have exposure to a global educational environment, international engagement opportunities. If you are accepted in a university of your choice and you can afford it, you should go for it.”However, a foreign degree doesn’t come cheap and according to UNESCO reports, one out of three Indians studying abroad are studying on loans.
Students generally prefer to study sciences abroad in the hope of securing a job. According to Abhay Rana, North Dakota based engineer of Indian origin, “I found a program in an Indian university which had a two year study abroad period with the North Dakota based university. That helped me settle down here. I found an internship and that led to a job. It was not the usual process people go through, but it worked for me and was relatively cheaper.”
One of the primary concerns for students and families are the ever increasing costs of foreign education. Parents are resorting to education loans which normally entail mortgaging property. “With the depreciating rupee, the cost of education has increased a lot from what it was five years ago. My daughter wanted to study biomedical sciences in a New York based University. The cost of tuition and lodging along with other expenses worked out to be around $55,000 a year. For a four year course, we only have the option for an education loan. If she gets a fellowship then it will be great, otherwise it’s going to be an issue for us financially and we don’t want to stop our daughter from doing her studies,” said Mahesh Chowhan.
Students often choose to study abroad due to lack of seats in reputed colleges in India with cut offs in some of the prestigious colleges reaching the 100% marks every year. According to Subhashree, “I enrolled in an applied arts course in London. It’s impossible to get admitted in good colleges in India. Marks cannot be the only benchmark of academic aptitude.”
The vast brain drain also has caused a major concern among the government and senior academics but students say that it is due to lack of diverse education courses and career options after higher studies. “I studied medicine and plan to go out of India but the government wants to create restrictions. If professionals leave India to work abroad then you can’t blame them for not fixing your own system. We spend lakhs of rupees to study and it takes us seven –eight years to earn back the money we spent on our education. What is the point of spending so much if you don’t earn anything?” Delhi-based Dr Sumit Datta said.