Some Food for Thought about Indians’ Study Abroad Choices

By on July 23rd, 2018

The Indian palate for education abroad is evolving and diversifying. Not only has the sheer number of Indians studying abroad grown significantly as a whole, but also has the parity among the top receiving countries.

Although the U.S. remains the top study destination for Indian students, that proportion is shrinking relative to the rest of the world. According to World Education Services, the U.S. share of Indians studying abroad has decreased by 7% between 2005/6 and 2014/15, whereas Canada’s numbers has more than tripled during that same period. Smaller yet noticeable gains have also been made by universities in China, Germany and New Zealand.

There is amazing depth of academic interest among Indians, although a keen eye and some digging are required to reveal it. While STEM programs still dominate, there are surprising numbers of students seeking non-STEM programs in areas like Business, Media Arts and Design and Social Sciences. For example, in the U.S. in 2017, more than 40,000 Indian students were enrolled in programs outside of Engineering, Math/Computer Science or Physical/Life Sciences. Let me put it another way: if this group were tracked independently, it would have ranked as the fifth largest source destination of students to the U.S. (ahead of Canada and slightly behind Saudi Arabia).

This is extremely significant, and it is time the world took note of the creative nature of Indian students, as well as the collective diversity of academic interests emerging on the subcontinent.

Moving forward, it will be wise for universities to think critically about this context as they interact with Indian students and to collaborate carefully with secondary school partners and colleagues to identify trends and best serve students. After all, the best outcomes result when students and parents have access to the information they need and are fully supported by advocates at both schools and universities.

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