Highlights

  • How much sense does a foreign degree make in a post-pandemic world?
  • How much did the pandemic affect foreign admissions?
  • Funding to unstable job markets: what are primary concerns for students?

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Decoded | Getting a foreign degree: what do the numbers say?

What is the allure of getting a foreign degree for Indian students? In this story we take a look at the data! 

If one word can describe the past 24 months for the world, it would be uncertainty. Fickle travel rules, uncertainty about covid protocols, and exorbitant fees, have made life much more difficult for Indian students who opt for an education overseas.

Despite the challenges, though, demand for foreign education remains high.

So why do Indian students choose to study abroad?

India is home to one-fifth of the world’s youth. As with most things in the country, competition to get in to the country’s premiere institutes is fierce. And competition for top jobs is even tougher.

As per data by the income tax department, there are only 30,000 jobs in India with a starting salary touching 10 LPA - making even this package an elusive one. In contrast, as per a report by the US labour department, starting salaries for graduates stands at 6 times more at 61 LPA. It is then no wonder that Indian students who can afford it, look to foreign education either as a badge of honour, to get a leg up on their resume, or as an avenue to access the job market abroad.

According to a Redseer survey 70% of students want to go for specialised courses overseas, as opposed to only 30% for general courses. Specialised courses often have a much better return on investment, along with much better job prospects too.

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India has the second largest number of students studying abroad, next only to China. But does the allure of foreign education make sense in a post-pandemic world?

How many students go abroad to study?

The Covid-19 pandemic saw a dip in demand for foreign education, but it didn’t take long for numbers to reach pre-pandemic levels. As per the Bureau of Investigation, nearly 5.9 lakh students went abroad for a foreign education in 2019. The onset of the pandemic, however, saw this number decline by 55% in 2020, with just about 2.6 lakh students going abroad. The numbers rebounded as covid fears weaned in 2021, with 4.44 lakh students going abroad. The trend is on the up, as 1,33,135 students have already gone abroad in just the first quarter of 2022.

Paying for a foreign education

Affordability, however, remains a concern. While the cost varies greatly depending on country and course, research by the International Institute of Education found that the average cost of studying abroad is nearly ₹28 lakh per year, which is an enormous sum of money for most in India. This leads to a high demand for education loans, which soared to new highs despite the pandemic. According to credit bureau CRIF, education loans worth ₹11,000 crore were disbursed in India in 2020, which was a record high.

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The pandemic has also offered new opportunities for students, such as courses in hybrid mode, with a mix of online and classroom teaching. Many have been able to complete a semester or two from home, before moving out to their country of choice, cutting down on living costs by a sizeable margin.

How much sense does this make in a post-pandemic world?

Despite new opportunities, a cloud of uncertainty remains over foreign education post Covid-19. Ever-changing protocols and quarantine rules are difficult to navigate, and many fear having to pay high travel and living costs in foreign country, only to end up doing online classes. This, and dwindling job prospects as economies struggle to recover, have caused many to ask - does education abroad really have serious merit, or is it just another case of the grass being greener on the other side?

Also watch: Mental health of college students' worst-hit by virus lockdown: study

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