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Evolving pathways: the potential of hybrid study abroad programs

Global student mobility has witnessed certain fundamental shifts over the past few years. All stakeholders, including international students and education service providers, have been embracing non-traditional approaches to earning foreign degrees.

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"Our university partners stand to benefit from these programs immensely as these create augmented revenue streams and increase the pool of international students"

Whilst historically popular destinations and universities are still among the top choices of student preferences, important insights have emerged which will redefine the global student mobility industry in the coming years.

These emerging trends are natural progressions aided by the development and adoption of technology as well as the increasing accessibility of quality international education through platform-based approaches. The new trends have opened up several interesting opportunities for foreign universities that are seeking to explore and benefit from large, growing South Asian markets such as India.

South Asia’s largest study abroad platform, Leap, in association with the global market research firm, Ipsos, recently launched an outlook report that revealed a significant increase in interest among Indian aspirants to pursue hybrid study abroad programs.

In the survey, 33% of students said that hybrid learning is more attractive than traditional learning methods, while an equal percentage believed that hybrid learning and traditional learning are equally attractive.

Recognising the growing interest and the market opportunity, Leap partnered with Colorado State University, one of the top public research universities in the US in 2022.

The collaboration brought CSU College of Business’ state-of-the-art Master of Computer Information Systems program to Indian students aspiring to earn a US degree in a hybrid format. The STEM-designated program is a robust combination of online and on-campus courses that creates a blend of in-demand technical and business skills for students.

Building on the success of this initiative, this year Leap announced its most recent hybrid pathway program partnership with Case Western Reserve University, US. The collaboration will bring Case School of Engineering’s popular MS in Computer Science program to Indian students in a hybrid format.

The findings in the research report display evidence that specially designed hybrid programs, such as the ones championed by Leap and its partner universities, will see greater traction from study-abroad aspirants in India over the coming years.

Our university partners stand to benefit from these programs immensely as these create augmented revenue streams and increase the pool of international students, thereby bringing diversity to the classroom.

The ever-increasing number of Indian study-abroad aspirants makes it an important market for foreign universities to tap into and explore newer avenues of engagement. The partnerships leverage the unique assets of both partners to deliver high-quality education and strengthen the presence of university partners in India.

“Many of the students are working professionals and this enables them to earn while they learn”

These uniquely designed hybrid programs allow students to complete the first part of a master’s degree program from a foreign university in their home country through synchronous or asynchronous online learning. Many of them are working professionals and this enables them to earn while they learn.

The remaining part of the degree is completed through on-campus learning at the foreign university. The students still enjoy the benefits of an on-campus experience, whilst making significant savings on overall expenses, thus democratising global education.

Aspiring students can also apply for scholarships and loans to further save on costs. Additionally, in certain cases, universities waive off the GRE/GMAT and language proficiency test requirements which are usually a part of the eligibility criteria for admissions to a program on campus.

On completion of the hybrid program, students continue to get all the benefits of being an international student, including, but not limited to a campus experience at the university, exposure to the destination country and invaluable work experience through a post study work visa.

In the coming years, the growth of the study abroad market will see a large dependence on students widely adopting hybrid pathway programs to earn foreign degrees.

Since the degree earned through a hybrid pathway program is the same as the one earned through an on campus program, interest is steadily growing, and more students are considering the hybrid program option as a good, cost effective alternative to successfully earn their higher education degree.

This presents an incredible area of opportunity for universities seeking to grow and expand their course offerings in foreign markets.

About the author: This is a sponsored article, written by Vaibhav Singh, co-founder of Leap. Views expressed are personal.



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