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14 Apr 2024, Edition - 3197, Sunday

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Trump no bar, Indian students are going to the US and will continue to do so

Indrani Thakurata


Bengaluru: The campuses in the west have always lured students from India. And US has always been on the top of the list for most Indian students. A study conducted a few years back by a premier B college in India talks about a rise of 256% from from 53,266 to 189,629 since 2000. The figures have definitely changed now, but we can get a sense of the rise in numbers. Many reports are claiming a drop in those figures from countries like India and China,who together made 47% of the of the international students in 2016, making it almost half a million. And that drop is being attributed to the Trump regime, whose educational policies aren’t favourable for international students.

Expert Sandeep Dash, a young Business communications professional passionate about education, an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, who works for Yocket, explains the present scenario and if Trump would indeed be the reason for the drop in numbers. Read on..

Although official figures about applications and admits are yet to come for the year 2017, there is still a sense of inclination towards studying abroad among Indian students, and it is set to increase, despite what is known as a political switch in the west. As the 2nd largest sender of student abroad, India is only set to increase its numbers.

According to a recently published article by WES, Indian student mobility has historically been tied to work potential, and to perceptions of safety. In the context of studying in the USA, these two factors have become the most potent after the new administration arrived in the country early this year. Since then, students have been restive about their fancied American dream. Both work potential and safety have become hot topics as the new administration has often raised rhetoric about immigration problems, domestic job losses and citizenship procedures. This rhetoric is not limited to the top boss as there has also been concern regarding racist attacks, discrimination and abuse against foreign nationals, especially asians. Under these circumstances, one would expect a sharp decrease in interest in chasing the American dream- but this is not so.

Over the last few months, we have observed that the enthusiasm for studying abroad has not dipped and in fact, has risen, thanks to the clamour around the issue of studying abroad. More and more students are exploring the option seriously and considering a break into the best Universities of the world. What explains this aberrant behaviour among students?

To understand why India will remain a top source of students studying abroad, one needs to understand, among other things, the psyche of an Indian student. An average Indian graduate in the technical field learns little in the undergraduate course pursued; except for the top few colleges, most universities follow obsolete curriculum which is not helpful in the job market. The Indian job market has been largely stagnant with most job trajectories having no clear scope of growth. These jobs are also extremely monotonous and face the risk of being wiped out by automation. In such a scenario, students from technical backgrounds such as science and technology are realising the need to acclimatize with newer technology, a more dynamic job market and research environment. This is not possible in India, where not only getting into a post-graduate course in a top notch college extremely difficult, the returns are also not exceptional.

There are 3 key factors influencing a steady student interest in foreign education despite hostile conditions in these ‘dream’ destinations.

1. Indian Demography

Can India cater to all its aspirational students with its shaky education infrastructure? Unfortunately, it seems unlikely in the near future. The number of Ambitious students who can afford to go for a foreign education are doing so, irrespective of the unwelcoming situation abroad. Clearly, students are willing to take risks.

2. Other options

It is a myth that the only few countries where Indians can go to study are the US, Canada and Australia. In 2005-2006, Canada accounted only for 5% of total Indian students studying while the same for 2014-2015 rose to 17%. Indians are exploring newer destinations and newer destinations are bound to spring up from time to time. This dynamic nature of options will continue to lure students to go abroad.

3. STEM Courses

STEM stands for Science-Technology-Engineering and Mathematics. In simple words, these are technical courses that the US seeks manpower from to sustain its economy. Students who pursue STEM courses are allowed to stay in the US for 36 months on the pretext of OPT (Optional Practical Training). In 36 months, one can not only recover tuition costs but also make way for a permanent residency/job offer or an equivalent inter country transfer. Students are willing to take this risk and bet on the vibrant american job market.

On our portal Yocket, this year the buzzword for a long time was the newly elected president of a country. Even though concerns exist, these concerns have now subsided – students are looking for other options, aligning their choice of courses around STEM and also willing to take the leap of faith for the sake of their careers.

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