Every year, thousands of Indian students travel abroad for their postgraduate degree and a few do so for their undergraduate degree. There are several benefits and issues with studying abroad versus simply studying in India.
You should study abroad if:
- The foreign country has more relaxed work visas and,
- If the demand for your degree is high in that foreign country, or
- If you are unable to secure admission into a top university in India
Otherwise, you are much better off financially by studying in India with the lower tuition fees and lower cost of living.
There are some students studying abroad who are able to successfully transition from college to employment, especially in the US or Canada. But there are many others in these and other countries such as UK who go through severe hardships after completing their education abroad.
STUDYING ABROAD VS. IN INDIA
Many Indian students aspire to study abroad for a better quality of education, global career prospects and a higher standard of living.
Here are the top advantages of studying abroad:
- It is much easier to get admission to a college abroad for an Indian student with the financial means.
- There is more flexibility in choosing or switching majors and in choosing courses to meet the individual degree requirements.
- There are greater chances of getting a job abroad upon completing college.
- An international education enhances career prospects both in the foreign country and also for those returning to India after college.
- There will be more global exposure and your peers will come from many countries from all across the world.
Here are the main disadvantages of studying abroad:
- College is much more expensive abroad and impossible for many without a large student loan or a scholarship.
- The living expenses are much higher abroad.
- There will be many new things to learn such as the language/culture, dress codes, getting a drivers license and so on.
- The food is very different in Europe and America when compared to the local Indian food. This problem is even more severe for vegetarians.
- In some European countries and until recently in the UK, it used to be extremely difficult for an Indian student to get a job or a work permit especially in non-IT fields.
STUDY IN INDIA
The following are some advantages of studying in India:
- The cost of college education in India is much lower than in the US, Europe and so on.
- Indian food is readily available all over most parts of India.
- Your family and friends will be close by when you need their help.
- The language and customs will be more familiar to you.
- Though there is competition for getting college admission, the process will be easier and more familiar to you.
The following are some disadvantages of studying in India:
- There is a lot of competition for securing admissions and its even more challenging to get admission to premium colleges such as IIT or IIM.
- The caste-based quota system in some states makes it difficult for many bright students to secure admission to most professional colleges. Most times, even a score above 90% does not guarantee admission to a reputed 4 year professional college.
- Many colleges have the merit and non-merit quota of seats which makes college admission even more complicated for the educated middle class.
- Except for some of the top Indian universities, most of the regular colleges in India are lacking in quality and in promoting creativity. Most college lectures revolve around how to score well in the exams and there is little focus on actually exploring, delving deeply or conducting physical experiments on the subject matter.
- The salary and career prospects are lower for many professional students who complete their college in India. This problem is even more severe for non-IT engineering graduates and other science and research students. Those who complete their college degree abroad get the most lucrative positions both abroad and upon returning to India.
STUDYING ABROAD POST-COVID
Studying abroad has always been popular among Indian students and continues to be so even after the covid as well. But the focus has been shifting toward countries with better pandemic management where daily covid cases have reduced to zero.
The top countries on this list include:
1) New Zealand
3) Germany and,
4) South Korea
Among these four, New Zealand is the preferred choice of over 60% of international students who want to study abroad. New Zealand placed strict lockdowns very early on to curb the covid issue and was able to lift all restrictions as early as June 8, 2020. This is viewed very positively by international students who view the country as a safe place for an international education.
China has been able to proactively curb the spread of the virus by locking down Wuhan and about 15 other cities in China. All flights and trains were suspended and roads were blocked. With these safety measures taken very early on, China was the first country to be able to reopen its college campuses in 2020.
Germany stopped the spread of covid very rapidly and has a very good healthcare system. There were well-organized measures taken concerning the availability of medicines, treatment, hospitals and doctors.
South Korea had covid numbers which were almost as high as the US at the start of the pandemic. But the country was able to rapidly lessen the covid curve and has tested more people for covid than any other country in the world.
US and UK
The US and UK have been seen as lacking in sufficient Covid measures and their inflow of international students is expected to reduce to some extent post-covid. Prior to 2021, the US has had the largest number of Indian and international students (about 50%) studying in its many world-recognized colleges and universities.
In view of the situation, UK is providing international students a 2 year work visa upon completing a degree program in the country. However, the US still continues to be a popular destination and students are willing to study online for a certain period of time before transitioning to campus-classes in the US.
Canada is likely to benefit from the inadequate handling of the covid issue by the US. Therefore, there is expected to be a greater interest among international students for college admissions in Canada. Australia is also likely to benefit from this situation and more students are considering Australia as a favorable study-abroad destination than in previous years.
OTHER FACTORS/ COUNTRIES FOR STUDY ABROAD
Germany, Iceland and Norway offer free college tuition in their public colleges and universities. Public colleges in France and Spain charge a very low college tuition but its not totally free.
But here are a few issues to consider before you signup to study in one of these countries:
1) You will still have to pay the much higher living expenses in these European countries. Both the accommodation and food costs are very high, so what you save on fees and much more you will end up paying in living expenses.
2) In some cases, you may be required to study for your bachelors degree in the native language, though there are a number of degree programs with instructions in English.
3) Though many of these colleges are world-recognized, most of them may not have the same high recognition as the most popular US colleges and universities.
In India, except for IT engineering graduates, most engineering graduates in other fields find their best career opportunities either in and around the UAE, Dubai, Europe and so on. Other than this, most Indian engineering graduates end up taking much lower-paid government or private jobs in India.
For better career prospects abroad upon graduation, it is beneficial to complete the engineering degree abroad as well.
Germany is viewed as an engineering haven that is not restricted to only IT so career growth and opportunities in other engineering specializations is more readily available than in India or even in many other parts of Asia. This makes Germany an attractive option for engineering and technology students.
Both Canada and Australia make it easier for their international college graduates to get a work visa upon college graduation. Upon working in the country for a few years, it is also possible for Indians and other international students to apply for permanent residency in Canada or Australia.
This option for permanent residency make Australia and Canada attractive to many international students wanting to complete a college degree in that country.
STUDENT/ WORK VISAS
It has always been possible for highly skilled workers to get a job and work visa in the US upon graduating college. The US also has some of the world’s highest ranked colleges and universities.
In popular fields such as technology or scientific research fields, even professionals with several years of experience within India can find good US-based job opportunities.
The UK has been widely known for some of the best universities such as Oxford, Cambridge and many more. Earlier, it was always a challenge for international college students who complete a college degree in UK to get a work visa for the UK.
But as a way to ease international student admissions post-covid, UK is providing a 2-year work visa for all international students graduating from a UK college or university.
DISTANCE TO INDIA
Countries such as South Korea, China, Taiwan and UAE have been gaining prominence due to better pandemic prevention measures and shorter travel distance to-and-from India. Countries such as Singapore and Malaysia are also seen as safer countries for college studies for Indian and other international students.
Additionally, the fact that these countries are closer to India, within a closer timezone also is considered a positive factor for college abroad. Earlier during the pandemic, students were scrambling to return to India or to their country of origin. So for future safety in emergencies, students are seriously considering studying in one of these Asian countries with their good quality of education and solid healthcare systems in place.
- Working After Graduation: https://www.internationalstudent.com/study_australia/working/after-graduation/
- 6 Countries With Free College Tuition: https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/080616/6-countries-virtually-free-college-tuition.asp
- Where Can You Study Abroad For Free?: https://www.topuniversities.com/student-info/studying-abroad/where-can-you-study-abroad-free
- COVID-19 Impact on International Higher Education: Studies & Forecasts: https://www.daad.de/en/information-services-for-higher-education-institutions/centre-of-competence/covid-19-impact-on-international-higher-education-studies-and-forecasts/#India
- The Impact Of COVID-19 on International Students Perceptions – Part 2: the perception gap between studying at home and abroad: https://studyportals.com/blog/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-international-students-perceptions-part-2-the-perception-gap-between-studying-at-home-and-abroad/
- Pandemic to redistribute international student flows: report: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/news/pandemic-redistribute-international-student-flows-report
- ESN releases the biggest research report on the impact of COVID-19 on student exchanges in Europe: https://esn.org/covidimpact-report
- The impact of Covid-19 on postgraduate-level student migration from India to Germany: https://www.researchcghe.org/publications/research-findings/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-postgraduate-level-student-migration-from-india-to-germany/