As many as 29,380 students have been issued a No Objection Certificate, which they must obtain in order to study at an overseas university, in the year to June 2015 – up 4.5% on the previous year.
“If it weren’t for financial or other constraints these numbers would increase even more”
The increase is driven by the “perception of better quality education with more subject choices when studying abroad, an expectation that studying abroad will boost career prospects (bet it at home or abroad) and the whole cultural experience of studying abroad”, Abhinav Shakya, project manager for the British Council’s Services for International Education Marketing division in Nepal, told The PIE News.
An estimated 80% of the students who receive a NOC go on to travel to their chosen destination, according to the ministry.
This marks the fourth consecutive year that NOC issuances have risen. The continued increase means that numbers of students intending to travel overseas for study has nearly tripled since 2011/12, when 11,912 NOCs were issued.
“The desire to study abroad has increased steadily over a much longer period and if it weren’t for financial or other constraints these numbers would increase even more,” Shakya said.
Japan is the most popular destination among this year’s students, with 9,363 NOCs issued, overtaking Australia, which this year had 8,692, down from 11,184 in 2014.
Meanwhile, the number of NOCs for travel to the US, the third most popular destination, doubled to 3,642.
A further 1,018 students applied to study in India, while 979 applied for Malaysia.
The previous peak in numbers was in 2010/11, when almost 27,000 NOCs were issued, but policy changes in the UK and Australia led to a dramatic drop the following year, according to Shakya.
“It is also evident that a majority of prospective students are looking for demonstrable evidence of return on investment”
Australia numbers have since increased as visa policy has opened up, but UK numbers remain low, with just 350 NOCs issued to students intending to study there in 2015.
“That there is clearly a desire to go abroad and people are willing to spend seems obvious, however it is also evident that a majority of prospective students are looking for demonstrable evidence of return on investment in the shorter term as well,” Shakya wrote in a British Council analysis of the data.
“In the absence of a guaranteed post-study work visa, UK institutions will need to look at marketing employability by tracking employment in home country or even internationally,” he advised.
Since the Nepali government does not provide hard data showing how many students travel abroad every year, NOC issuances are the most reliable indicator for study abroad trends.
Students who apply are “almost always” issued the certificate, provided they have the right documents including an acceptance letter from the overseas institution, according to Shakya.