Indian parents are proud to say their children are studying abroad. Even as it is a matter of prestige, for them it also conveys that the child is brilliant and the family is able to afford the education abroad.
Well, this is one side of the story. The other side is the story of ‘brain drain,’ where brilliant Indian students opt to study abroad and finally settle down there, thus draining the pool of talented resources in the country. Most of India’s brightest students today work abroad. A study conducted by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India revealed that the revenue loss suffered by India as a result of its students going abroad runs into billions in a year.
The number of students going abroad is increasing
The US is the most preferred destination, followed by the UK, Canada and Australia. Newer countries like New Zealand, Germany and Ireland are soon joining the list. During the years 2000 till 2009, there was a 256 percent increase in the number of Indian students going abroad to study. However, this was soon followed by a decline owing to the global meltdown and other factors. But today, the trend has begun to pick up. A survey by the Council of Graduate Schools in 2013 show that there has been a 40 percent rise in the number of first-time graduates enrolling in the US universities.
There are several reasons why Indian students are going abroad
The reasons can be numerous. Here, we analyse a few. Some of these reasons have been cited by experts while others have come up through research and surveys.
1. Education is better abroad, it is argued
Most of the parents and students believe that education abroad is better than in India – given the finance and infrastructure the countries abroad possess. Education abroad is supposed to be more practical as compared to the theoretical and rote learning method that is followed in India.
A report suggests that about 50 percent of the engineering students graduating from India are not fit to be hired because of lack of technical capability. Similarly, a student completing his masters or doctorate from Cambridge or Oxford University stands to gain more reputation and recognition than a student securing the same degree from an Indian university.
It has also been found that the Indian universities from where the students obtain their degrees may not even be featuring in the list of top universities of the world.
2. Growth in Indian economy has enabled middle class affordability
The growth in Indian economy has opened up the purse strings of the middle class. Today, they also dream of sending their children abroad for studies. This was not the case earlier, where studying abroad was reserved only for the rich. This is an important factor that has led to the surge in the number of students seeking to study abroad.
3. Increasing awareness and easy access to information
Awareness is at its peak with the international universities and colleges competing with each other to woo the students to study in their countries. Road shows, educational fairs and seminars have been providing the students with apt information that they are looking for. The Internet has also played a major role, where information is instantly accessible and students can find answers to most of the queries related to studying abroad online.
4. Bank loans and scholarships easily available
Since 2001, banks in India have been providing educational loans and students in India have been availing this facility to the fullest. Apart from this, there are many universities which offer scholarship to attract talent. The scholarship along with the education loan enables a student to easily purse higher studies overseas.
5. Domestic in-take capacity is inadequate
Though the official figures are not available but in an educational research blog, Dr Rahul Choudaha, who is a higher education strategist, pegs the number of students in India set to pursue higher education in 2014-15 at 26.5 million. Does India have the infrastructure to provide state-of-the-art education to all of them? The answer will be a no. The colleges matching the standard of esteemed Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) or Indian Institute of Management (IIM) or other prestigious institutes are very few in number to cater to this large number of students. Many out of this 26.5 million will be meritorious students who are armed with a 90 plus percentage and who may have cleared the entrance exams. Yet, there is no guarantee that they would get admission in the colleges of their choice. In such a scenario, these students prefer to study abroad where they would get to pursue the course of their choice.
6. Idea of emigration also acts as a motivation
Many students choose to go abroad with a view to settle down there. For these students, the main reason will not be quality of education but a chance to go abroad and secure the citizenship there. Their focus will be to opt for skilled programmes that will secure them jobs in the destination countries.
Now, what the future looks like
The global meltdown, the rupee becoming weak against dollar leading to a rise in educational costs and racist attacks on Indian students were some of the factors that had led to a brief decline in the number of students going abroad to study in the years 2010-12. However, this trend is set to reverse.
While the universities in the US will see a rise in enrolments, Australian and Canadian universities are also expected to see a rise. Owing to the strict immigration and workplace policies, the only country that may not see a surge in students’ enrolment is the United Kingdom. The US, UK, Australia and Canada have been always the favourite countries where Indian students preferred to enrol. Now China, New Zealand and Germany are fast becoming hot destinations.
Until India matches the standards of education offered abroad – in terms of quality and cost – Indian students will continue to move abroad to fulfil their dreams of pursuing the kind of education they feel is right for them.