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Weakening rupee yet to impact India’s student mobility

Industry experts predict that the free falling value of the rupee will not dent India’s demand for foreign education this year despite concerns dominating global headlines. Forecasters add however that long-term impacts could be seen in a slow down of enrolments for 2014 and some institutions are discounting courses for Indian students.

For the 2013-2014 school year, timing has worked in students' favour with the rupee hitting its first record low in June

Even though the cost of studying abroad has increased drastically since the rupee’s value has dropped 25% since May, most first-year students have already made arrangements for 2013 start dates. Current students stand the largest risk of being caught short of funds with study costs increasing as much as 20%, however.

“The rate of change has been too fast to interpret,“ Rahul Choudaha, Director of Research and Strategic Development at World Education Services told The PIE News. “People will enroll this year, but things look shaky for next year.”

“People will enroll this year, but things look shaky for next year”

Around 800,000 Indian students study abroad each year. The US has particularly benefited from these outbound mobility with offers of admissions from U.S. graduate schools to prospective students increasing by 27% between 2012 to 2013 , according to a report released by the Council of Graduate Schools.

Long-term forecasts place India in the top source markets beside China, Brazil and Indonesia to contribute roughly 100,000 international students to the global student population.

Choudaha says that for now “the depreciation may impact this momentum rather than cause a decline”.

For the 2013-2014 school year, timing has worked in students’ favour with the rupee hitting its first record low in June by which time many had already applied to schools and secured loans. Less immune are the students currently studying overseas however.

“Their reliance on part time work used to be plan B now it is plan A,” Ravi Lochan Singh, Managing Director of Global Reach education agency told The PIE News.

An Indian student coming to London confirmed that he plans to work the maximum 20 hours a week while studying a Master at the School of Oriental and African Studies due to the currency slump.  “I have not changed my plans, despite my budget inflating by 20%,” he said. “I quit my job three months ago…so I am just going ahead with my plans.”

“To those who have money, it will not make a difference”

Singh also adds that “universities should consider bursaries that are not merit based”. One such institution that has recently introduced relief measure for its 2013 intake is the Pacific International Hotel Management School in New Zealand. A 50% scholarship will be offered to all students, bringing the costs down by INR 1.6 lakh (US $2388) for undergraduates and INR 3.1 lakh (US $4626) for postgraduates. Advance International College in Ireland is also discounting course fees by €500 for all its Indian students.

Students from wealthier families are likely to remain unaffected according to Natasha Chopra, Managing Director of one of the country’s largest education agencies The Chopras.  “To those who have money, it will not make a difference. We always tell students to have a buffer.”

The type of programmes these students pursue abroad also provides protection from the value drop.  “Those with higher budgets, who are going for shorter one year programmes are not abandoning their plans,” added Choudaha.

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