21 Sep 2015 19:27 IST

Why more students are opting to study abroad

Picture for representation purpose only

Chance to work abroad and more experiential learning and technical exposure are some main reasons

Akshay Sharma is busy packing. He leaves for Germany on October 7 and will be spending the next two years at International University of Applied Sciences Bad Honnef-Bonn (IUBH). Sharma is excited to get admission into the university’s coveted Masters in Management, with a specialisation in finance and accounting. Not just that; he will get a to stay in Germany for another one-and-a-half years after his programme completes, to find a job to earn the money he spent on education. The two-year MS programme at IUBH will cost him around ₹20 lakh.

Like Sharma, nearly 6.8 lakh students are flocking to universities abroad, lured by better education and opportunities this year, according to a study by ASSOCHAM on ‘Skilling India: Empowering Indian Youth through World Class Education’. In 2013, the number was 2.9 lakh.

Traditionally, engineering, IT, computer sciences, business and biological sciences programmes have been popular among Indian students looking to study abroad. But now, programmes in hospitality and tourism management too are catching up. Students are also aspiring to explore newer destinations such as Germany, Denmark, France, Sweden, Singapore, Canada, Ireland, Norway and China.

India — minefield of students

As students become keener on pursuing education abroad, many tier-2, tier-3 foreign universities are eyeing India for its large student pool. These institutions have also sprung into action and are aggressively promoting their programmes in India.

For instance, Karuna Ausman, international marketing and recruitment specialist at one of the top Canadian universities, University of Waterloo, visits India four times a year, promoting the university’s mathematics and engineering programmes, which are extremely popular among Indians. The university currently has about 105 undergraduate Indian-Canadian students studying at the campus and is looking to increase the numbers to about 150 students.

“Most of our top students are from CBSE programmes and opt for computer science, all engineering programmes, software engineering and megatronics,” says Ausman. “And 94 per cent of the students are employed within the first semester of studies, and thus can work and study at the same time.” The complete cost of an engineering programme at the University is about Canadian $200,000 and students end-up earning about Canadian $70,000-$80,000 while working during their study term.

Diversity matters

Universities abroad also attract Indian students because of their acumen, diversity and large pool of students to choose from. Spain’s IE University has about 65 per cent international students representing over 100 nationalities on campus.

“Indians students bring with them a rich heritage, multi-cultural diversity and a colourful history which adds great value to the classroom,” says Vidhi Godiawala, Associate Director, IE University, South Asia. “Additionally, Indian students are driven and well-exposed to the outside world. Their learning from myriad family businesses and professional parentage enhances the learning experience as a whole.”

The tuition fee across all undergraduate programmes at IE is €18,000 per year, and depending on the campus, the cost of living could range from anywhere between €7,000-€10,000 per year, which roughly translates into ₹20 lakh per year for tuition cost, lodging and boarding. At present, the university has about 25 Indian undergraduate students studying in the Segovia and Madrid campuses.

Work abroad

Indian students are not afraid to shell out bigger bucks for their foreign education these days, primarily because most of the good universities offer them an opportunity to work abroad after their education. “Like all international students, Indian graduates may become eligible to work in the US upon completion of their studies,” says Jessica Stern, international marketing and recruitment manager at the US-based University of California Irvine. “A range of career services available at the university facilitate this process.”

Including fees and living expense, the approximate total tuition, fees and living expenses at UCI amount to $55,000 each year. The university has about 305 Indian students currently.

Similarly, Temple University in the US gives its students an option to work for one year or up to 18 months after graduation to get practical training in their field of study, before applying for a future job. “Our average cost per year for tuition, room, meals, insurance, books and transportation is $40,000 per year,” says Nathan Jones, Assistant Director of International Admissions at Temple University

Singapore — a viable option

After the US and Europe, Singapore is also becoming a preferred destination for Indian students, primarily for its reputed universities and proximity from home. Studying at Singapore is cheaper too, in some cases. “Students pay approximately ₹20 lakh to ₹22 lakh for a 24-month bachelor’s programme and approximately ₹15 lakh to ₹17 lakh for a master’s programme, depending on the duration i.e. 12 months or 16 months. Also, living expenses add up to about ₹4 lakh to ₹6 lakh a year.

Popular courses at JCU Singapore among Indian students, according to James Cook University Singapore’s Atharv Kale, are business, IT, tourism and hospitality management and accounting. Around 25 per cent of the batch at JCU every year comprises Indian students.

Most students who opt to go abroad end up with more experiential learning and technical exposure than their Indian counterparts. This makes them more employable in the industry. Thus, perhaps spending on education abroad is not as risky and expensive in long term. Even if you don’t get through the Ivy League and end up in one of the top tier universities abroad, it’s a risk one could well take.

Recommended for you