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America calling

education Updated: Aug 24, 2011 10:40 IST
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Acceptance of Indian students by graduate programmes in the US has increased by 8%, showing a reversal in trends of the last three years, a recent report by the Council of Graduate Studies (CGS) states.

This growth in acceptance is primarily driven by institutions outside top-100 (based on number of graduate degrees awarded in the US), which indicated more openness to institutions outside the traditional favourites. Likewise, institutions are accepting Indian students at a higher rate. The number of applications from Indian students to institutions outside the top-100 has increased by 6%, while the number of graduate admission offers has increased by 12%.

According to Unesco data, of the 185,000 Indian students enrolled in higher education institutions abroad, US leads with a share of nearly 55% of all Indian students, followed by the UK and Australia.

Restrictive visa policies and bleaker future prospects of employment and immigration in the UK and Australia are turningIndian students away. For example, applications for “offshore” student visas for Australia by Indians have declined by nearly 63%, which translates into nearly 12,000 visas less.

Recent CGS data confirms increasing interest of Indian students in graduate programmes in the US and diversion of some traffic from alternative destinations.

Top 10 US institutions exhibit a remarkably different trend, with a larger increase in Indian applications and a decrease in admission offers (see box). This counter-trend is largely due to already high concentration of Indian students in graduate programmes, especially in engineering related fields. According to National Science Foundation, 57% of all Indian students in the US were enrolled at master’s level programmes in engineering and computer science in 2009.

As trends from CGS report indicate, students aiming to study abroad should expand their consideration set of potential institutions beyond traditional top institutions. However, they should also recognise that there is a wide spectrum of quality of institutions ranging from Harvard University to Tri Valley University.

The key is to make informed choices and treat any short-cuts promised by study abroad agents or institutions with ample caution.

The author is director of development and innovation at World Education Services, New York (www.wes.org) and earned his PhD in higher education from the US

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