Over 2.9 lakh students go overseas every year for university education, which costs India a foreign exchange outflow of $15 to $20 billion per annum.
Among the favourite higher education destinations among Indians are US, UK, Australia and France.
An important reason for many Indians choosing to study abroad is the shortage of good institutions in India and growing competition for limited seats.
Moreover, the reservation policy in India reduces the availability of seats to general category students, weakening the prospects of a majority of students, says an Assocham report.
The US remains the top destination for students from around the world.
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The Open Doors Report, published by the Institute of International Education, an independent not-for-profit organisation with a network of 19 offices and affiliates worldwide, which was released in November 2014, reported a 7% increase in the number of international students.
The number of foreign students stood at 819,644 students in 2012/13, with 55,000 more students than last year enrolled in colleges and universities across the US, the report said. Surprisingly, though India remained the top three countries of origin with China and Korea, the number of Indian students went down by 4% for the second year.
Arjun Seth, director of EdBrand, who leads a group of independent college admissions counsellors who assist students identify ‘right-fit’ college or university options abroad, says US institutes offer students the certainty of quality content.
“The flexibility of the system, the freedom to do multidisciplinary courses ensures that the students get a well-rounded education, which helps them discover their strengths,” he said.
With over 1,200 institutions and over 22,000 courses to choose from, Australia also offers a diverse range of study options for international students. “From July 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014, 24,205 Indians were granted student visas to study in Australia. That is a 32.9% increase over the same period last year,” says an Australian high commission spokesperson.
The number of Indian students in New Zealand has also increased by close to 50% in the last five years. “New Zealand has eight public state-funded universities, all of which are listed in the world’s top 500 QS World University Rankings,” says Ziena Jalil, regional director, South and South East Asia, Education New Zealand.
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Over the past five years, the number of Indian students in France grew by 50%. This is because of various factors such as overall increase in the number of Indian students, higher education costs in the Anglo-Saxon countries, wide range of scholarships across a bouquet of academic disciplines and easier visa rules. Nearly 3,000 students studied in France in 2013.
“Indian students coming to France have access to some of the best academic institutions in the world, at very low fee. Visa rules have been made easier and students can now stay for an additional year in the country,” Arnaud Mentré, press counsellor, Embassy of France.