Foreign education was almost unthinkable for middle class students not long ago, and only students from affluent families could move overseas to pursue higher education. “At present we are seeing a record outflow of students for foreign education than ever before. More and more students are now making the move abroad for their higher studies which indicates a rise in the average Indian’s purchasing power parity, rising aspirations of Indians and also exposes the challenges in our higher education”, says Vineet Gupta Ashoka University Founder.
Before independence, Indian students preferred to study in Britain, and many wealthy Indians completed their education in the country. After independence, US higher education institutions began aggressively recruiting international students and Indians began moving to the US for higher education. During the 1980s, the US became the top destination for our brightest students.
For the last three decades, these four countries have been the preferred choice for over 90% of Indian students wishing to study abroad. In today’s world, there are many new destinations that have emerged as attractive propositions for middle-class students. With Singapore’s rise as a global fintech and education hub in the mid 2000s, Singapore became another destination. In recent years, countries like France, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, China, and Russia have emerged as possible options for Indian students.
What makes these destinations so attractive to Indian students?
Over 1.3L students moved overseas for higher education in the first three months of 2022. After a bleak couple of seasons due to the pandemic, Indian students are making confident moves to further their careers. Foreign universities are attracting students for multiple reasons.
Listed below are a few:
1. Accessibility – As more universities welcome foreign students and some even advertise extensively in India to attract Indian students, the options for students have grown.
2. Scholarships and subsidized tuition fees – In US and European universities, students with great grades can receive up to 100% scholarships.
“If someone isn’t eligible for a 100% scholarships they can still apply for subsidy and get at least a part of their tuition fee reduced. The reduced cost is one of the major reasons that attracts students to these universities, opined Vineet Gupta Ashoka University Founder.”
3. High competition for seats in India. Getting a seat in a prestigious college has become an absolute nightmare for Indian students due to the limited number of seats available. Especially in technical education, Indians are now preferring other Asian destinations such as China and Vietnam.
4. Costs of education – A private education in India is very expensive for most Indian families if they are not high graders. Medical students who cannot attend a public university must take out highly expensive student loans to finance their education. As a result, other Asian universities are now offering these degrees for half the price or even less, which makes them an attractive option for many students.
5. The lure of a foreign nation – “The sensibilities of today’s youth have changed with time. They wish to travel and live independent lives and want to make their own decisions when it comes to their education and career. They are now the major decision makers when it comes to their future”, opines Vineet Gupta, Ashoka University Founder.
India loses precious tuition revenue and taxes due to the high influx of Indian students to foreign nations. This contributes to the age-old problem of brain drain. As a result, students who return to India pre-maturely find it difficult to complete their education in India because our curriculum differs greatly from that of the west.
Currently, Ukrainian students are facing a crisis that reminds them of the risks and uncertainties of a foreign degree.
“The only way to address the issue of losing out students to foreign universities is to continue to revamp the education system and improve educational infrastructure across the country. For this to happen, both public and private stakeholders need to come together and build partnerships that aim at developing the education ecosystem and make higher education more accessible, attractive and affordable to Indian students”, concluded Vineet