Rapid growth from India’s upper middle-class segment for study abroad: Nikhil Jain, ForeignAdmits  

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Updated: June 23, 2021 12:42 PM

COVID-19 Pandemic has affected this in the initial days of the cycle and the market for US plummeted due to other geopolitical reasons.

COVID-19 Pandemic, Nikhil Jain, ForeignAdmits, digital online platform, MEM, MSBA, MIM, MBA, Chevening, Erasmus Mundus, Rhodes, VarnierIn the study abroad sector, the Bachelor's Degree course segment is growing faster than all other segments, followed by MBA/Management courses like MEM, MSBA, MIM and then Masters courses.

Covid -19 posed a big problem for personalized mentoring of students aiming to pursue higher education. Technology empowered Mentorship solutions were used with an aim of generic but personalised guidance by target university & field specific mentors. Powered by AI & Proprietary processes of Profile Evaluation, Analysis and Application Management made the whole application process competent, time saving, efficient, transparent, and better in quality. It ensures unbiased suggestions and enough information/ data for judicious decisions by applicants. In an exclusive conversation with Financial Express Online Nikhil Jain, Co-Founder & CEO, ForeignAdmits talked about the trend of studying abroad in India and more industry insights. Excerpts:

How is Foreign Admits helping the students to choose the right career?

ForeignAdmits being an online digital platform, helps students with a personalised career planning, and study abroad guidance through data backed counselling via AI based tools and quality mentorship, directly by international graduates & alumni from top universities. As a platform, we ensure complete guidance for study abroad aspirants in 360-degree manner, starting from career counselling from experienced counsellors and data backed counselling tools, to admission assistance from international mentors & university admission officers, scholarships assistance, documents support, and all admission support services via our marketplace like loan, visa, forex, banking, credit cards, accommodation, health insurance from international partners. With our non-traditional approach using data and personalized experiences of mentors, we ensure students land up in their dream university with proper understanding of the course and take charge of their career.

What growth number has been seen in digital consultancy regarding career choices?

The new age internet based digital consultancies have seen a high growth in terms of user adoption. The post covid world had forced adoption of digital processes. Many online platforms are coming up enabling accessibility. The growth of ForeignAdmits, as a digital online platform for study abroad counselling has been phenomenal. We have grown 10 times in the last 12 months in terms of our revenue growth and have a user growth of 2000% on our platform since Jan 2020, with an active user base of 69,000 and new users of 100,000. In the last 3 months, we have 65% growth in new users and 79% in the active user base, with an organic growth of 292%. Over 1000 students were surveyed and found that more than 70% of the students and working professionals are aiming to study abroad. And 56% of the candidates aim to study abroad to have a better exposure and better job opportunities.

Which all sectors are leading in terms of students’ priority? Do you see new sectors emerge?

In the study abroad sector, the Bachelor’s Degree course segment is growing faster than all other segments, followed by MBA/Management courses like MEM, MSBA, MIM and then Masters courses. But in terms of overall share, MS is still the most preferred course, by engineering dominated aspirants pool from India, who aim to study abroad. STEM courses are as always growing with focus on technology courses and business courses but a new shift is seen with students aiming for more specialised course in all domains like data science, information systems, human computer interaction, design, architecture, business analytics, finance, private equity, sports management, brand marketing, engineering management, international business, etc. Sectors like bachelors and MBA have seen a unique demand of specialization in types of courses chosen by students.

COVID-19 Pandemic, Nikhil Jain, ForeignAdmits, digital online platform, MEM, MSBA, MIM, MBA, Chevening, Erasmus Mundus, Rhodes, VarnierNikhil Jain, Co-Founder & CEO, ForeignAdmits

What is the future of online counsellors in India?

Online counselling is the future going ahead in a country like India where there is a high internet penetration. And due to growing GDP and spending power of the middle class and due to information democratization via ease of accessibility of the internet, more and more students from Tier 2 and tier 3 cities are aiming to take a big leap in their career. Now, no-more they have to go to cities or urban metros to get access to quality mentorship. At ForeignAdmits, we have built a platform so simple that any student from any part of India can come to the platform, see and verify the mentors and counsellors’ profile, and easily book an hourly video call at a very affordable fee. This is not only saving them huge costs, but also enabling them with high quality guidance from top international mentors from all over the world. Thus the new age internet powered platforms are bigger enablers lowering the barriers for students in availing counselling.

How can one ensure the best scholarships for foreign education?

There are varieties of scholarships, one can explore and access for their target country. There are global, national, alumni based, trust fund based, government based and college scholarships. One can primarily apply for them during or before applications and few of them after securing offer letters. To ensure higher chances in ensuring best scholarships, one needs to plan for them and apply early to shortlisted colleges. The main things the admission committee or scholarship committee looks for in the scholarship application are merits (GPA, Test Scores, academic achievements) and then some look at genuine needs, extracurricular achievements in leadership, sports, cultural and community. Often, they require a motivation letter or statement of purpose for scholarship applications. The scholarships are Chevening, Erasmus Mundus, Rhodes, Varnier, Full Bright for countries like UK, Europe, Canada and USA.

How do you ensure the best guidance for each student?

Our motive is premium yet affordable counselling cum mentorship-based admission guidance. We ensure this for over 15000 students we have helped in the past 3 yrs. To ensure best guidance for students, we create timeline and personalised roadmaps of profile building to university applications with our digital mentorship tools, for each student, to help them save time in planning and admission processes. And with our counsellors and 500+ international mentors from top universities, the whole process becomes easier for students and we remove the guesswork from the application process. The process is made transparent and dynamic, with data backed counselling, so that none of the students feel lost and feel cognizant of the process, ensuring high quality application.  We do have over 1500+ top global universities partnered with us where we help students with direct applications and premium support by universities.

But, unlike traditional consultants’ processes which are usually pushy, biased or have constraints of limited partnerships of universities, we make it very transparent to students about university partnerships. In Addition to partner university application support, our mentors help candidates have a better clarity of that university, location, course and domain, beforehand. This has helped our students be better performers in their target universities. The Mentors work closely with students along with counsellors to help them from end-to-end processes. We have multiple plans for all kinds of students as per their needs and goals, which gets shared with them during our automated profile review process, ensuring that students get to know what they need to achieve their goals. To get students clarity with career options, we have an AI based Skill Mapper tool which helps a student identify relevant and high prospect career options from 1000+ career choices along with a suitable degree for that career. Our mega scholarship repositories help students, ensure a better chance to be aware of suitable scholarships, saving time and increasing funding chances through personalised scholarship assistance by specific mentors who grabbed such scholarships. Lastly, we have multiple partnerships with all leading services providers like loans, forex, accommodations, part time jobs and more, which make sure that students journey of getting into their dream university, be smoother and better.

Can you share some industry insights from the domain? How much change have you noticed since the pandemic?

Pandemic or COVID19 has affected this in the initial days of the cycle and the market for US plummeted due to other geopolitical reasons. But the prime market of study in the USA gained speed again, after the new government ensured better support to international students. The whole industry has grown overall, with leading destinations being Canada, UK due to their friendlier immigration policies, growing economy and more supportive reforms launched by their government, inviting more international students. The other growing markets are Germany, Nordic Countries and France where more students have started exploring as a cost-effective alternative destination with a high-quality education, adjusting to the language barrier. And these countries have also shown positive signs by introducing more English based courses for international students. We have seen a rapid growth in the upper middle-class segment for study abroad for bachelor’s courses for high school students.

This will continue to rise due to few factors like-

  • Indian education is no more highly affordable option for quality education,
  • People are in need of better job opportunities and better quality of life which they are getting better abroad,
  • Spending power of middle class are increasing, indicating their interest to have higher quality education abroad and,
  • Better financial instruments are available making education loan easier for the middle class to grab the opportunity to study abroad.

At ForeignAdmits, we have done a few surveys and polls recently of a community of 15000+ students and professionals, where in 2100+ took part in the survey showing more than 56% people aim to build a profile to study abroad. It was seen that more than 70% are interested to study bachelors abroad post pandemic and the major reasons were quality of education and better job opportunities. The major reasons to go abroad for higher education were More Opportunities and Exposure (chosen by 61% of people in the survey), followed by high quality education (14%) and international employment (14%) and Permanent Residency Interest (11%).

Our of 18000+ enquiries received of students in past one year –

  • USA: 24%
  • UK: 15%
  • Canada: 20%
  • Europe: 15%
  • Australia: 10%
  • Asia: 11%
  • Others: 5%

Still one in every four students aim for the USA, one in every five students aim for Canada.

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