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What is the Indian perspective on top study destinations?

The German Academic Exchange Services (DAAD) office in New Delhi actively promotes weekly information sessions, hosts free webinars and follows up with Indians interested in research, PhD and study opportunities in Germany. What tips the Indian student market in Germany’s favour is that after completing their studies in Germany, Indians can now remain in Germany for 18 months, instead of previously 12 months and look for jobs in keeping with their qualifications.

Humber College in Canada makes twice-yearly trips to India to keep agents and students updated about its offer

“At one level, the US commands a higher social prestige and at another level, it offers higher prospects of career advancement”

The Netherlands: fresh territory 

Close on the heels of Germany is the The Netherlands, a fast-growing study abroad destination for Indian students.  There are over 800 Indian students currently studying there (increasing at an average 10-15 % in each of the last five years).

The Netherlands Education Support Offices in India are based in Ahmedabad and Chennai. Both education officers were highly optimistic about employment opportunities for students going to the Netherlands. “The Netherlands Government gives the students a period of one year, to look for a job. Most of the students do land up in jobs during this period, but some of them also pursue further studies (research) in the Netherlands or EU region,” said a spokesperson.

They may also benefit from the EU Blue Card programme that eases settlement for highly skilled migrants across the EU. A potential barrier is non-EU student tuition fees, however, which stand at around £5,000-£10,000 per annum – roughly equivalent to the UK’s.

Advantage USA: Technology Superpower

Over the decades, America – with the onset of the 90s’ dot-com boom – has been home to numerous of India’s technically inclined professionals. Skill shortages in the science and tech professions have helped make the US the number-one destination for Indians. Director of Research and Strategic Development at New York’s World Education Services, Dr Rahul Choudaha, outs this down to two primary factors –”social and financial”.

“At one level, the US commands a higher social prestige among Indians and at another level, it offers higher prospects of career advancement due to the IT industry,” he says.

“The 17-months OPT (Optional practical training) extension for STEM students came as a boon and many Indian students have leveraged this”

Nearly 60% of Indian students in the US are enrolled on a Master’s degree in STEM-related fields. A segment which finds pathways to work through the H1 visa route. Says Choudaha, “The 17-months OPT (Optional practical training) extension for STEM students came as a boon and many Indian students have leveraged this opportunity as seen in the growth of Indian students on OPT.

“This number has increased from nearly 11,000 to 27,000 students between 2007 to 2011 primarily due to the STEM visa.”

However, H1 visa numbers are capped and obtaining one can take time. Consensus is growing on easing the process but yet to become a reality. On the need for reform, Laszlo Bock, Google Inc’s senior vice president for people operations, recently wrote, “At a time when the US economy needs it most, our immigration policies are stifling innovation”.

Australia: post-study work rights

Indian student enrolments have tumbled over the last few years, spurred by the highly publicised racial attacks on Indian students in 2009, changes to the skilled migration program in 2010, and the broader issue of a persistently high dollar. However, Chopra today says Australia is rising again as an offer Indian students can’t ignore. Imminent extensions to the post-study work rules, allowing Bachelors and Masters students to remain and work for two and three years respectively, are offer a marked difference to what happened in the UK to its PSW visa.

Australia is rising again as an offer Indian students can’t ignore

“It is our job as agents to match students as closely to their outcomes, and place them in the right institution and destination in the first place,” she says. “Moreover, when it comes to post study jobs, it is the universities who should pitch in to help international students with their post-university expectations.”

Other agents too are capitalising on Australia’s reforms. According to Singh, previously Indian students were more vocationally driven, but nowadays pursue only proper degree programmes at universities, diplomas being out of the question. On the work rights he says: “In a way there are no guaranteed pathways to migration but Australia, being a migration-friendly country, will allow those with good English, the right age, a decent qualification and certainly employable, to find easier ways into the Australian job market.”

Singapore: Asia Inc. 

The Asian city state of Singapore is said to be a hot sell for its cleanliness, safety, and proximity to home. The recognisable culture, ethnicities, languages, food are also draws. The state is also a hub of global finance and technology, and home to droves of Indian managers, accountants and entrepreneurs who were once students of Singapore’s well known private and state educational institutions.

Up until last year, Singapore’s Indian graduates could stay back up to a year after  graduation to search for a job, but this was recently changed to a month. Despite this, agents say there has been little  impact on students finding work — with a pool of about 7,000 private multinational businesses to approach, Indian graduates enjoy graduate employability of around 80% in Singapore’s vibrant, migrant economy.

Cracking the Indian market

Why Indians study abroad owes itself to “a complex interplay of variables, including job prospects, cost of education, availability of quality local programmes, social recognition and opportunities of immigration,” summarised Dr Choudaha, in a column for The Hindustan Times. From Delhi to DC, Kolkata to Canberra, Indian students will remain a dominant force in the international student market for some time to come, and the destinations that understand Indian motivation to better their prospects and become global citizens have plenty of opportunity to leverage the market.


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