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92% Indian students in US ready for future back in India

Nine in ten Indian students in the US, who participated in a comprehensive study of the community's future plans, are keen to return to India to pursue careers. Charu Sudan Kasturi reports. What students want
Hindustan Times | By Charu Sudan Kasturi, New Delhi
UPDATED ON MAR 08, 2011 01:45 AM IST

Nine in ten Indian students in the US who participated in the largest known and most comprehensive study yet of the community’s future plans are keen to return to India to pursue their careers.

As many as 84% of those planning to return to India are interested in jobs combining research and teaching, the study found, in findings with major implications for policy makers here grappling with a crippling faculty shortage. Most of them however said they would not accept a pure teaching job.

The study, conducted by researchers from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Pennsylvania State University and Rutgers University is the largest effort yet to look at diverse aspects of future plans of Indian students in the US and factors driving their decisions. The study was released in the US today.

“The high percentage of those open to returning and their interest in higher education careers presents a big opportunity for India,” TISS political science professor and study co-author Venkatesh Kumar told HT. Kumar’s co-author is David Finegold, Dean of the Rutgers School of Management and Labour Relations. The authors plan to make the study – the largest and most diverse they know of – an annual effort.

Out of 998 respondents who agreed to participate in the study, 76% said they were planning to return to India, were in the process of returning or had just returned. Another 16% said they would go wherever they received the best job, regardless of the location. Only 8% student respondents said they would definitely prefer to stay back in the US.

About half the respondents – 54% -- said they are keen to return to India but after working for a few years in the US. “Another key finding was the high fraction of students who said they wanted to give something back to Indian higher education,” said Kumar, currently a Herbert Humphrey Fellow at Pennsylvania State University.

The researchers used regression analysis to distinguish trends based on the qualification students were pursing, their academic stream, age, sex, marital status and presence of children. They also studied reasons why the students left India for American higher education.

The Indian Institutes of Technology, Indian Institutes of Management, central, state and deemed universities across India face a faculty crunch that has left the country with one of the world’s worst higher education student-teacher ratios in the world.

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