Complete Guidelines to Indian Students for Studies Abroad


Study Abroad - Over the last decade, the pursuit of international education has undergone a profound transformation in India. Traditionally, study abroad programs were predominantly opted by the affluent class due to high cost, the reputation linked to renowned universities, and limited accessibility.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs, over 1.3 million Indian students pursued their studies abroad under various education programmes in the year 2022. The surge in Indian students pursuing their studies overseas has led to an increase in the number of education loans disbursed. This has ultimately added to the cycle of growth of the Indian economy.
Additionally, it has led to significant growth in the number of international institutions in India leading to the availability of an increased number of opportunities for global education without even leaving the country.
This article aims to provide valuable information on the factors driving this transformation and offer insights into the strategies and resources available for students aiming to pursue their studies abroad.
Why are the Indian Students Opting to Pursue their Studies Abroad?
Indian Students Studying Abroad: In recent years, there has been a growing interest among the Indian students to pursue their studies overseas. This trend is contingent upon a number of factors, including global exposure, better career prospects, and an improved quality of education.
Global Exposure: One of the main reasons why Indian students choose to pursue their studies abroad is to gain global exposure. Pursuing studies overseas allows students to experience interactions with different cultures, scholars, mentors, students from all over the world helping them expand their horizons.
Better Career Prospects: Many international universities offer high-quality education and specialised programmes that are not available in India. Additionally, international degrees are often valued highly by employers in India and around the world.
Improved Quality of Education: Top international universities offer cutting-edge research facilities, world-class faculty, and academic programmes rich in quality. This helps students develop the skills and knowledge they require in the pursuit of success.
Some of the specific domains and the benefits accruing to Indian students pursuing their studies abroad are as follows:
Career Assessment Test: Engineering: Students who pursue their studies overseas in the engineering domain gain exposure to cutting-edge research projects and latest technology. They have the opportunity to learn from world-renowned professors and scholars. This helps them develop the required knowledge and skills for matching employment opportunities in India as well as overseas.
Business and Management: Students who pursue their business or management studies abroad have the opportunity to learn from experienced business leaders while gaining exposure to best global practices. This leads to honing of skills and sharpening of knowledge required to start their venture or land a job in a multinational corporation.
Medicine: Students who pursue their overseas studies in medicine have the opportunity to learn from world-class doctors, scholars & researchers. This enhances their overall skills and knowledge in medicine which is key to becoming an accomplished medicine practitioner in India or abroad.
Impact of COVID-19 on Indian Study Abroad Ecosystem: According to a report by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, the number of Indian students studying abroad decreased from 7,57,273 in 2019-20 to 4,47,255 in 2020-21 leading to a downturn of over 40%.
While 5.8 lakh Indian students went to pursue their studies in other countries in 2019, it dipped to 2.59 lakh due to the pandemic in 2020. Even though the number rose in 2021, it was yet to catch up with the pre-pandemic levels.
The factors that contributed to this downturn in international education include the following:
Travel restrictions: Many countries imposed travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, making it difficult for Indian students to travel abroad.
Online learning: Universities switched to online learning, which was not an ideal scenario for all students.
Financial difficulties: The pandemic caused financial hardship for many Indian families, making it difficult for them to afford the cost of overseas education.
However, of late, the number of Indian students pursuing their studies abroad has revealed an upward trend since 2021-22, with 6,82,223 students heading overseas. This represents an increase of over 50% over the data available for previous year. Key factors include eased travel restrictions, hybrid learning options, and improved financial stability.
Financial Aspect to Study Abroad: The cost of studying abroad can be a major barrier for Indian students. However, there has been an increase in loan applications for overseas education in recent years.
According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the outstanding portfolio under education loans grew 17 per cent at Rs 96,847 crore in the year 2022-23 as against Rs 82,723 crore in the previous year.
The total value of education loans disbursed for overseas education increased from Rs 15,445.62 crore in 2021-22 to Rs 23,576.02 crore in 2022-23. This represents an increase of over 50%.
Availability of Scholarships and Other Financial Aid Options: The applicants can also decide to explore alternative sources of financial support, such as scholarships and other forms of financial aid, to fund their international education. Some of the opportunities are listed below:
Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship Programme: This program is offered by the US government to Indian scholars and professionals who wish to study, research, or teach in the United States.
Chevening Scholarships: These scholarships are offered by the UK Government to Indian students who wish to pursue postgraduate studies at a recognized university in the UK.
Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship Programme: This program is offered by the Aga Khan Foundation to students from developing countries who wish to pursue postgraduate studies at a recognized university abroad.
Rhodes Scholarship: This scholarship is awarded to meritorious students from all over the world who wish to pursue postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford.
In addition to scholarships and grants, there are a number of other financial aid options available to Indian students pursuing their studies abroad. These financial aid options include student loan programmes, work-study programmes, and teaching assistantships.
(Writer is a Retired Principal & Educationist. Views expressed are personal)

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