Unable to find a course of his choice at Delhi University, Ankit Khullar, 27, decided to pursue his graduation from the US. Armed with a degree in finance, he returned to India for his masters. But after “two wasteful years”, he returned to the US for further studies.
“The primary reason (to go back to the US) was the low perceived quality of education offered in India and my interactions with graduates from various universities. The idea was not just to attain a degree, but to learn,” Khullar told .
He added that the courses being offered in the MBA programmes lay emphasis on subjects he had either already covered as a part of his bachelor’s degree or were “outdated” as compared to those offered in the US.
Like him, many Indian students are opting to study at international varsities owing to better living environment, high-quality teaching and the opportunity to receive world class education. While the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, France, Australia and Singapore are the most favoured destinations, Indian students are now also exploring other countries such as Sweden, Italy and Ireland.
Apart from that, smaller countries too are trying to woo Indian students. Among them is Taiwan – which at any given time has 500-600 students studying.
Despite a high rate of Indian students seeking education abroad, the government does not maintain a record of those studying abroad.
Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Ram Shankar Katheria informed parliament that since studies abroad was a matter of individual will and choice, “information regarding the number of Indian students going abroad or the expenditure incurred thereon are not maintained by the ministry.”
According to the European Union, India has the second highest number of internationally mobile students, after China, travelling abroad for tertiary level education. Between 2000 and 2009, the count of Indian students in Europe increased from 3,348 to 51,556.
The total number of Indian students in the US shot up 28 percent to over 1.3 million, comprising the second largest foreign student body in America after China, according to a new report published last month by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the Department of Homeland Security.
As per the recent Assocham study “New overseas destination for Indians students”, more than 85,000 Indians went abroad in 2005 and the count shot up to 290,000 in 2013. This, according to Assocham estimates, costs India a foreign exchange outflow of 15 to 20 billion dollars per annum.
According to Richard Everitt, director-education, British Council, Indian students applying for undergraduate courses in the UK continue to grow owing to a “conducive environment” they get to study and live in.
“Over 90 percent of postgraduate students in the UK rate the quality of teaching positively and the satisfaction rate for students has hit a 10-year high – with 86 percent saying they are satisfied overall with their course, as per National Student Survey (NSS),” Everitt told IANS.
Madhulika Sen, principal, Tagore International School, Vasant Vihar, told IANS that students demand education which is “intellectually stimulating”.
“Also, look at the percentage needed to get into a good college here. So, is it not better to give Scholastic Assessment Test and other tests and get into top level universities abroad which give preference to a child’s co-curricular as well?” she asked.
Another popular destination among students is Australia, which offers “high-quality teaching and support systems”. As of June 2014 there were almost 42,000 Indian student enrollments across Australia’s education and training providers.
“The most popular courses for Indian students are in the field of management and commerce; food, hospitality and personal services; engineering and related technologies; and information technology.
“It is also a significant international education destination for emerging careers in technology, digital, robotics, media and entertainment, scientific research and health,” an Australian High Commission spokesperson told IANS.
Highlighting the benefits of studying in Australia, the spokesperson said Australian education focussed on meeting the needs of industry, providing quality training and connecting skills with job outcomes.
Students keen on pursuing biotechnology, business/finance, ICT, and medtech related courses also opt for Ireland, which Damien English, Ireland’s minister of state at the departments of education and skills and jobs, enterprise, innovation, describes as “dynamic, lively and modern with a young population and a successful, technologically orientated economy”.
He told IANS that most programmes cost in the range of Rs.8 to 12 lakh with the cost of living per annum being a similar amount, adding that from a base of 850 Indian students choosing to study in Ireland in 2012, it has doubled to over 3,000 in the next three years.