By Swathi BS
The majority of Indians who have studied abroad over the years have done so for postgraduate-level programmes. According to education consultants and top officials from foreign schools, undergraduate students are also increasing quickly, though they still make up roughly 70–75 percent of the population of Indian students studying abroad.
Rising parental income levels, greater access to loans and financial aid, and flexible post-study work visa policies in countries like the UK and Australia have led to an increase in Indian undergraduate students looking into opportunities for studying abroad. Besides that, growing affordability and increased awareness of foreign education, even in small cities and villages, are encouraging more young Indians to think seriously about studying abroad. The majority of Indians who have studied abroad over the years have done so for postgraduate-level programmes. According to education consultants and top officials from foreign schools, undergraduate students are also increasing quickly, though they still make up roughly 70–75 percent of the population of Indian students studying abroad. According to data from the Bureau of Immigration (BoI), there have been 1,33,135 Indian students who have left the country to pursue higher education as of March 2022, compared to 4,44,553 in 2021 and 2,59,655 in 2020. According to Vibha Khazgi of Reachivy, one of the main reasons why so many Indians want to study overseas is due to the quality of the education offered. “They have better infrastructure and resources. Having had first-hand experience of this, I can vouch for the excellent quality of education offered at international institutes. They gain a global perspective of the field that they are studying. An opportunity to expand their professional network. India is indeed a diverse country; however, studying at an international university gives you the chance to interact with people from all walks of life from different background,” added Vibha. Along with developing academic knowledge, they emphasise practical skill development. “They have a more research-based approach to education. Along with the theoretical knowledge, you will also need soft skills to advance in your career. Many international universities focus on building these practical skills which are required for a successful career. They encourage a lot of extracurricular activities along with their school study curriculum. They also have a flexible curriculum with a diverse choice of subjects,” she remarked. The main problem India is currently dealing with is a monotonous curriculum that emphasises theoretical knowledge. “I think practical knowledge of the industry is just as important. Encouraging students to pursue internships will certainly help them build their industry knowledge and gain practical career skill. There is also a shortage of skilled and experience faculty to teach the youth, something that can be remedied by conducting skill-enhancing workshops for professors and teachers,” she said. “Many students prefer pursuing their higher education in North America (the USA, Canada), Europe (Germany, the UK, Spain, France, Italy and Netherlands) or Australia. This is primarily due to the established and prestigious institutes located there,” she added. Aman Singh, co-founder of GradRight, said that despite the fact that many students want to study abroad, they are unable to do so because of financial limitations. “Four out of five students who plan to pursue higher education abroad fail to do so, primarily because of financial constraints. They either do not have the knowledge and awareness of the right college for them because they cannot afford an education counsellor or they do not have the money to pursue that college,” added Aman. “On one hand, we became acutely aware of the difficulties faced by middle-class and lower-middle-class students in finding and financing the best college/university for them. On the other, we experienced the frustrations of universities in finding and admitting the best students, as well as the growing influence of banks in India’s higher education industry. This problem is prevalent globally and affects lower and middle income students the most,” he said. To pursue an education overseas, support from mentors, financial resources, and counselling is crucial. “Our platform enables students to choose their college without the need of a counsellor, free of charge. It also ensures that students are able to get the financial resources for their preferred college, in the shortest time possible and at the lowest cost possible. Students can also seek guidance and mentorship from current students or recent alums of the chosen university and program and gather unfiltered, unbiased insights about their educational experiences and career prospects,” he concluded.