By Mr. Vivek Jain,
If you are a student holding acceptance letters from prestigious institutions abroad, each new “wave” of the long-drawn pandemic must be posing as a hurdle in your journey to your dream university. So in the current scenario, what is the best way forward for those whose study abroad plans were derailed last year?
One of the questions that has been brewing in the minds of both students and their parents, is whether or not the students should opt for study abroad this year or should they settle for alternate viable options in India. Travel restrictions, visa-related issues, quarantine factors, mental anxiety and the overall continuity of the pandemic — these are just some of the challenges that are making this impasse even more difficult, and trying, for the young adults as well as their parents.
A ray of hope
Despite the present gloom, there seems to be a strong ray of hope over the horizon now. The number of Omicron cases have started to fall drastically, which is good news for the students prepping up for a foreign education degree. Almost all countries are opening their doors now to welcome back foreign students on their campuses. Thus, the need of the hour for these foreign university-bound students is awareness. This is even more critical now with the realm of international education having changed, thanks to Covid-19, leading to the emergence of some novel guidelines. It also becomes imperative for the youngsters to familiarise themselves with these new trends.
The number of applications doubles
In keeping with this current trend, a recent foreign education survey has indicated that the number of Indian students who have applied for admission to foreign universities has grown manifold in 2022. For instance, the US, always being a highly preferred destination for Indian students, has witnessed double the number of applicants for the 2022 Fall Intake when compared with the same period last year. To validate this growth, the Visa success rate is also climbing northward, with the US also having introduced an F1 Visa interview waiver programme from this year.
The same is the case with other popular study-abroad destinations like the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada. Australia has already extended its “stay back” options from two to three years with no restrictions for part-time jobs for international students. On the other hand the UK is also welcoming Indian applicants with an easier Visa and entry process, including a two-year stay-back period. Canada, too, is on the threshold of witnessing a boom of Indian students this year, as is evident with the huge queue of Visa applications that are currently under process.
The majority of Indian applicants are targeting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) courses in the US, followed by the UK and Canada. However, there is enough demand for all other courses as well, including niche ones such as Sports Analytics, Environmental Research and even the study of wines.
What are the reasons for this spike in student admissions?
In addition to the weaning off of the pandemic and the pent-up demand from last year, the huge job opportunities, attractive pay packages and important roles offered by top companies to freshers at campus recruitment drives are propelling the Indian students to opt for education in foreign destinations. For example, the starting pay package for an Indian student pursuing Engineering in Computer Science or Data Science in the US has risen to US$220,000 per annum as compared to US$90,000 in 2019. Not to mention the perks like joining bonus, stocks, free laundry and meals.
Of course, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) recognition of the Indian-origin Covishield and Covaxin vaccinations has been another major contributor to the renewed interest for foreign admissions this year. Another factor pushing Indian students to explore admissions overseas is the cut-throat competition for seats in undergraduate courses in India.
Positivity and optimism is the way forward
To sum up, critical factors like access and acceptance of vaccines, robust health infrastructure and policies favouring foreign student admissions, are definitely drawing student interest more than ever for international colleges, apart from the obvious charm of attaining a foreign degree. Additionally, over 70% of undergraduate and post-graduate students seeking to go abroad for higher education currently are even considering better healthcare as one of the key reasons for their renewed interest.
As they make a beeline to catch flights to their study destination and fulfil their aspirations, here’s wishing the young, bright minds the best of luck!
(The author is Chief Business Officer, Shiksha.com and NaukriFastforward. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the FinancialExpress.com.)