(The Free Press Journal publishes articles by study abroad consultants, Consulates, foreign universities, international students, and much more every Saturday to give its readers a glimpse of the world of overseas education.)
The new India is developing at a faster pace. In the accelerated trajectory of India's development, education stands out as a pivotal catalyst. The upward trend is encouraging: total enrolments in higher education in India surged from 38.5 million in 2019-20 to almost 41 million in 2020-21. Notably, female enrolments witnessed a positive trend, rising from 18.8 million in the preceding year to 21 million.
The count of internationally mobile students is increasing year on year, and some forecasts project that 1.8 million Indian students will study abroad by 2024.
Who could have envisioned, just ten years ago, that India would be at the forefront of global student mobility?
According to data published by the Education Ministry of the Government of India, approximately 770,000 Indian students embarked on their higher education journey in 2022. At a macro level, student mobility globally is influenced by economic, cultural, as well as global geopolitical reasons and India is not an exception.
The push and pull factors
Prominent among the push factors are increasing population, intense competition, a dearth of positions at reputable domestic institutions, and the allure of professional opportunities and settlement in developed countries.
Conversely, the pull factors encompass the appeal of international exposure, diverse opportunities, interaction with varied cultures, the quality of higher education institutions with robust research facilities, a global educational framework, linguistic diversity, hospitable study environments, employment prospects to earn in higher-valued currency, and favorable immigration policies.
Our students are predominantly drawn to institutions that boast robust industry connections, providing cooperative programs, internships, and highly sought-after placement opportunities. Their choices persistently revolve around factors like educational quality, the pertinence of courses, and the potential for return on investment. The strength and accomplishments of a university's alumni network and global ranking exert a significant influence over the decisions of Indian students.
Moreover, the cultural exchanges and international exposure facilitated by universities also wield considerable sway. As students increasingly focus on their careers, such provisions undeniably attract the most talented minds.
Shift amidst some constants!
Historically, the US held the spotlight as the land of boundless opportunities, and it continues to reign as the pinnacle of aspirational destinations for higher education. Yet, a significant number of Indian students now set their gaze on other premier locations like Canada, Australia, the UK, Germany, Singapore, UAE, New Zealand, France, and Ireland, among others.
Here's the twist: an ever-expanding range of options is now in the picture, driven by intriguing and thoughtful motives. Indian students embody global citizenship, shaping their study preferences with specialized criteria: sustainability, innovation, creativity, internationalization, HDI (Human Development Index), and even the pursuit of happiness.
Stepping beyond the traditionally deemed 'safe' fields of STEM, Business and Management, Social Studies, Life Sciences, Communications, and Journalism, our students are embracing more creative and demanding domains of study.
The author is Director of Operations at New Zealand Gateway and Gateway Overseas Inc.