That more and more Indian students are looking for foreign shores when it comes to pursuing a higher education qualification is no secret. The pandemic has impacted mobility of international students, including Indians, who have been known to choose destinations such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada for a college degree.
With countries like Australia and Canada still not opening up travel for international students after over 18 months, Indian students have been looking for other offbeat destinations. This is evident from recent data by India’s External Affairs Ministry.
Destinations such as Georgia, Armenia, Cyprus, Czech Republic to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, the Philippines, Poland, and Ukraine are seeing a good number of Indian students joining their universities.
While there were 14,000 Indian students in Georgia until July 2021, Kyrgyzstan had 11,000, Kazakhstan 3,400, the Philippines 14,000, and Ukraine with 14,000 students from India enrolled in their higher education institutions.
This shows that for Indian students, the charm of a foreign degree is too strong and they want to explore newer destinations as well. Recent studies suggest that besides aspects such as quality of education, infrastructure, post-study work opportunities, and reputation of a country and a university, Indian students are also considering factors like in-country experience, exploring new destinations, gaining life skills, learning to be independent ,and living life on their own terms.
Around 11 lakh Indian students are currently enrolled in various universities across the globe. Another reason for students criss-crossing the globe is that many universities have branch campuses in some of these offbeat destinations and Indian students don’t mind that experience. Besides, the cost of studying and living is lower as compared to the more popular destinations. Many of these countries also offer lucrative scholarships for Indian students, which explains the increase in numbers over the years.
A recent report by RedSeer, a management consulting firm, says that the number of Indian students going for higher education overseas increased from nearly 4.5 lakh in 2016 to around 7.7 lakh in 2019. It is set for further growth to nearly 1.8 million by 2024.
Placements, salaries, and better opportunities of settling in some of these countries are some reasons why Indian students are increasingly moving abroad. Though COVID-19 has slowed the outbound mobility in the last 18 months, with hybrid learning and easing of restrictions, Indian students are slowly putting their overseas education plans back on track. However, before opting for these offbeat destinations, students must do their research, verify all information pertaining to admissions, travel, future prospects, living in these countries, and the socio-economic and political aspects too.
It is not just these countries which are being chosen by Indian students. While the numbers are too low, places like Moldova, Malta, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Tajikistan, Estonia, Barbados, and Belarus also have a handful of Indian students on their campuses. However, these countries are not among the major and most frequented choices for higher education for Indian and international students.