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Satya Nadella, the Microsoft CEO, made that trip in the late 1980s, from Hyderabad to the United States. He wasn’t the first to do so from that city, nor the last.
Hyderabad is now the largest contributor of students to US colleges and universities among all Indian cities, and globally the fourth, according to a new study.
But the study also pointed to a worrying trend — that of these students from Hyderabad and elsewhere in Andhra Pradesh landing in dubious institutions by design or accident.
Hyderabad sent 26,200 students to the US between 2008 and 2012, behind Seoul (56,503), Beijing (49,946), Shanghai (29,145), according to a Brookings study.
The other leading Indian cities in the top 20 were Mumbai (17,294), Chennai (9,141), Bangalore (8,835) and Delhi (8,728), in that order, over the same period.
Among countries, China continued as the largest source of foreign student in the US by a wide margin, followed by India, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Canada.
Unlike Nadella and others, many of these students landed in dubious institutions that were either being run without accreditation or just as a visa fraud racket.
“The top five destination schools of F-1 students from Hyderabad are institutions with no major research activity,” said the report titled “The Geography of Foreign Students in U.S. Higher Education: Origins and Destinations”.
The largest of them is in California. The report described it as a a non-profit accredited medium sized college, which, it added, had “no research activity”.
Others included unaccredited University of Northern Virginia, which was shut down in 2013. It has since resurfaced but stands barred from accepting foreign students.
Tri-Valley University in California was another. Also unaccredited, it was charged with visa fraud — for allowing foreign students to work, instead of study.
Its president Susan Xiao-Ping Su was found guilty earlier this year of 31 counts including visa fraud, use of a false document, alien harboring and money laundering.
Many of her victims included students from Hyderabad — and other parts of Andhra — who had a harrowing time dealing with the law in the US and anxious parents at home.
Aspirants are perhaps choosing their colleges and universities more carefully now, but it is hard to pin such things down before it’s too late, and careers have been shattered.