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Indian students looking beyond US – survey

Indian students are increasingly looking for study abroad alternatives beyond the US, a survey has suggested. However, the country remains highly attractive for students seeking to enrol on STEM courses, buoyed by the lucrative job opportunities and OPT extensions.

Respondents to the survey came from across India including top metros, tier 2s, tier 3s cities and rural areas. Photo: pexels

Popular universities in European countries like Sweden, Switzerland & Netherlands are also "seeing good traction"

Data on 123,309 students in India collected over four years by Yocket has revealed that interest for 2021 studies has shifted slightly from the US to favour Canada, UK and Germany.

“Since August, the momentum is again picking up and we are seeing some encouraging numbers”

In 2018, 90% of respondents were studying in the US with fewer than 5% in Canada. Two years later in 2020, the ratio of respondents in the US had dropped to just above 80%, and Canada increased to over 10%.

For students interested in studying overseas in 2021, this trend has increased with almost 14% of prospective students indicating interest in Canada and those interested in the US dropping to 76%.

“While most students are still considering the US as one of their top choices for study abroad destination, they are no longer considering it as their only destination,” said Tumul Buch, co-founder at Yocket.

“Many students are now applying to universities from multiple destinations as a backup to their US plans in case something goes wrong.”

Popular universities in European countries like Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands are also “seeing good traction”, Buch added.

“However, the US still holds its allure, especially for STEM aspirants due to lucrative job opportunities and OPT extension.”

Earlier in 2020, an analysis of SEVIS data by the National Foundation for American Policy showed that in recent years many Indian tech students have been choosing Canada over the US as the place to study and make their careers.

According to the Yocket study, the top city for prospective students in 2021 worldwide also supports an increase in interests for Canada, with Toronto overtaking New York for the first time.

Despite this, the remaining cities featuring in the top 10 in 2021 are all in the US, with New York, Houston, Springfield, and Boston completing the top five.

“Most Indian students prefer to go to the universities where someone they know is studying or has studied in the past,” Buch added.

The survey also showed the top destination cities in five countries – US, Canada, the UK, Germany and Australia.

New York, Toronto, Berlin and Melbourne respectively are the most popular cities for 2021, respondents to the survey showed, and these have remained stable.

Over the four years, the top popular cities in Canada and Germany have changed. In 2019, Toronto took the top position from Montreal, and Berlin replaced Munich as Germany’s most popular city in 2021.

The survey also revealed a more positive picture of recovery after Covid-19, Buch indicated.

“In the initial days of countrywide lockdown, sentiments for studying abroad were quite low.

“The changes in H1B and F1 visa in the US also led to further these negative sentiments. However, the lawsuit by top universities to rescind the F1 policy change and opening of US student visa has given the much-needed boost,” he said.

Earlier in 2020, a Yocket survey indicated that 70% of students in India wanted to continue study abroad despite the global pandemic.

“Many students who were planning to take online semester fall 2020 are now actually going to attend on-campus depending on the local situation at their university,” Buch said.

“Since August, the momentum is again picking up and we are seeing some encouraging numbers. In fact, the September numbers are on par with September last year.”

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