Indian Students Dreaming Of Higher Education Abroad: Challenges And Solutions – Analysis

It has been estimated, based on the findings of a number of surveys that a sizeable percentage of students and even working professionals are looking forward to pursuing their higher education abroad. The inclinations of the students towards the higher education from abroad is being influenced by a wide variety of dynamics. One of the many reasons why there has been an upswing in the number of students moving overseas for higher education on account of the improved quality of life and the availability of vast opportunities.

The most important factors that influence a student’s decision to continue their education abroad include quality education and employment opportunities. When questions emerged about the quality of the Indian educational institutions, the standards of foreign education were unquestionably of a very high quality as compared to India, as this argument is being substantiated by the world university rankings. On the other hand, according to the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2021, twelve Indian universities out of total 1074 have found a place among the top 100 universities worldwide. There are three Indian Institutes of Technology that are ranked among the top engineering institutions in the world. The QS World University Rankings are published once a year and include an overall and subject-wise analysis of institutions located all over the world. This is carried out by evaluating the six metrics, which include academic reputation, citations per faculty, employer reputation, faculty-to-student ratio, international faculty ratio, and international student ratio.

The majority of academic programmes taught at foreign educational institutions have been best equipped to provide students with the necessary skills to become valuable members of the international community. Students are given opportunities to gain practical experience in their relevant field of work while studying abroad. The students develop the ability to think critically and come up with individualised solutions to the challenges faced by real-world scenarios when they participate in hands-on learning experiences. Moreover, attending university in a foreign country could help students develop cross-functional skills, which will give them an advantage over other professionals and better opportunities for career advancements. These skills include communication, teamwork, client management, problem solving, organisational leadership, and a host of other skills and abilities as well.

Most of the students who plan to study abroad have the firm intention of remaining in the host country after their studies. The experience of studying in a country with a completely different educational system and standards of living than one’s own can be invaluable experience. As a developing country, India’s pay scales are as diverse as the country itself, each with its own set of challenges and opportunities. Most of the students in high-end Indian companies don’t get as they anticipated, which severely limits their career opportunities. Due to their quality educational systems, people from all over the world looking towards developed countries for employment opportunities with higher packages. In order to increase their employment prospects, the Indian students are obligated to pursue higher education in their preferred countries. This is one of the main reasons why so many students from India are leaving the country to continue their higher education abroad. Therefore, when students are looking for opportunities abroad, they prioritise countries with straightforward student visa processes and favourable prospects for long-term residency and eventually permanent citizenship.

The foreign universities typically offer a wide variety of higher education specialised programme and a plethora of subfields, allowing students from all walks of life the chance to explore fields of study that might be of a particular interests to them. Some scholars argue that the outlook of Indian universities in terms of educational systems, curricula frameworks is much more conservative, and they all offer the same set of traditional courses. Furthermore, these institutions are not keeping up with the times by providing students with the opportunity to move freely between different academic disciplines, however, some steps have been taken in NEP 2020 in this direction. Students are provided with the opportunity to broaden their horizons in terms of their knowledge and to move beyond their comfort zones. Students who study abroad have the unique opportunity to learn about and evaluate multiple cultural systems, as well as to meet and interact with people who hold a wide variety of perspectives.

A great deal of weightage is given in the Indian education system to students’ and teachers’ evaluations based on their performance on standardised tests. Exams are undeniably an important part of the learning process; however, giving them too much importance will not help the students to grow as highly demanded professionals. In other countries, the universities and faculty are prioritising a broad and promising curricula. It helps the students to learn more effectively. Moreover, the overseas higher education improves the students’ ability to learn a new language and culture is just one of the many benefits of studying abroad at a reputable university.

In India, there is a high level of competition with regards to opportunities for higher professional educational programmes. The educational institutions that are deemed of the highest quality have set stringent requirements that can only be met by the intelligent students. Apart from the grades, a diverse range of factors are also taken into consideration for admission of the students. Thus, many Indian students opt to pursue their education in countries that provide better educational opportunities, in order to avoid the intense competition in their home country.

Indian Students Dream of Studying Abroad
There has been a consistent increase in the number of Indian students who are opting to pursue higher education abroad. Between 2016 and 2019, there was an increase in the number from 440,000 to 770,000. According to data provided by the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA, GOI), there has been a significant decrease in the number of students pursuing higher education abroad in 2020. The estimated count of students who opted to pursue their education abroad in 2020 was around 260,000. This signifies a significant reduction from the previous count of 590,000 students due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, the number of Indian students studying abroad amounted to 1,133,749, with projections indicating a surge to 1.8 million by 2024.

As per the recent survey carried out by RedSeer Strategy Consultants in 2021, there has been a noteworthy increase in the number of Indian students opting for higher education overseas. According to that survey, the number of Indian students pursuing higher education abroad had nearly reached to 8 lac by the year 2019. It is anticipated that the number of outbound students will exceed its present count and attain a figure of 1.8 million by the year 2024. This projection suggests a rise of more than 100%. It is anticipated that the collective spending of these students would increase and is projected to range between of US$75-US$85 billion by 2024. This expenditure projection had taken into considerations of the anticipated rise in both tuition fees and living costs due to inflation.

In the present day, education experts have noted an increasing trend among the Indian students to pursue higher education in the areas of science, engineering, technology, and mathematics (STEM), as well as data analysis. Presently, the students are focusing their attention on a broad range of disciplines, encompassing artificial intelligence, machine learning, data analytics, coding, process automation, biomedical science, nursing, medicine, cyber security, genetics, virology, epidemiology, digital marketing, and business, special education, and analytics. It is expected that these fields of study will present significant employment opportunities in the coming years, which serves as a driving force for students to pursue them abroad.

Apart from the rapidly growing domains of artificial intelligence, big data, and cybersecurity, it is probable that environmental science, with a specific focus on sustainable energy sources, will witness a significant upswing in demand. With the current burden on healthcare infrastructure globally, it is expected that the fields of biotechnology, health informatics, pharmacy, equipment manufacturing, and healthcare administration will experience substantial growth in the foreseeable future. This growth will result rise in both direct and indirect employment prospects within the industry.

Challenges for the Indian Students
The pursuit of higher education in foreign countries offers significant opportunities for Indian students. Nonetheless, pursuing higher education/professional programmes abroad is not devoid of challenges that can significantly influence one’s decision. For Indian international students, selecting the appropriate majors and institution is a crucial matter. Many students tend to conform to the herd mentality and opt for safer majors instead of exploring their personal interests and strengths. Opting for an appropriate study abroad programme can assist students in pursuing a career path that is not only personally fulfilling but also financially lucrative.

The process of preparing for tests and completing university applications is a critical area where students often encounter challenges. Seeking guidance from an experienced consultants regarding study abroad programmes could potentially provide a solution to these challenges. The role of the guidance counsellor is to provide guidance to students as they navigate the process of selecting courses, preparing for exams, and preparing admission applications and interview process.

Registering in a prestigious international educational institution demands a considerable expenses in terms of tuition fees and living expenses. This is one of the matter of perpetual concerns for both students and parents alike. Acquiring funds for pursuing education abroad is a complex and protracted processes. Students encounter several challenges, such as completing extensive documentations, limited accessibility to Forex, the process of opening a bank account etc. Establishing a centralised platform to address the pressing financial concerns of students would be highly advantageous. It is advisable to consult with a study abroad counsellor to streamline the process of obtaining student education loans and ensure its viability.

It is crystal clear from the available literature that the students may lack a thorough comprehension of the several schemes/benefits emanating from the different fellowships and scholarships. It is recommended that students seek the guidance of an honest and suitable educational counsellors to obtain correct information and valuable insights regarding the diverse scholarship opportunities that may be accessible to them. It is noteworthy that the student counsellor has an extensive knowledge base regarding a wide range of scholarships and funding opportunities that may pique your interest.

Numerous study consultants in India have been identified as participating in corrupt and fraudulent practises. Most of these consultants are associated with specific international academic institutions and may impose restrictions on the students’ choices and selection processes, limiting options to only those educational bodies that are affiliated with them. In the past, there were instances where study consultants would misappropriation and squander the financial assets belonging to students.

In conclusion, it is advisable for Indian students to adopt a proactive and well-informed approach to protect themselves against potential fraudulent activities carried out by consultancies, counterfeit information, financial constraints, and complications in the application process. By engaging in a thorough investigation of trustworthy consultancies, conducting independent verification of information, formulating a practical financial plan, directly communicating with universities, staying informed of application procedures, seeking guidance from educational institutions, and relying on their own intuition, students can effectively mitigate the risks associated with fraudulent practises. It is crucial to apply diligence and conduct meticulous research to ensure a smooth and transparent application process, prioritise the well-being of students, and increase the chances of a successful academic pursuit.