Boom or recession, with scholarship or with a loan, USA continues to be the El Dorado for Indian students dreaming of studying abroad and starting an international career. But it can’t afford to be too complacent: Australia and other countries are gradually catching up.
In 2014 and 2015, Australia aggressively campaigned to attract Indian students who had been turned away by the UK’s stricter immigration laws and turned off by attacks on Indians. The numbers say that it has succeeded: by early 2015, 48,000 Indian students were attending universities Down Under.
Earlier, when Australia was struggling to remain a favored destination for Indian students (2009-13), Canada was not exactly hibernating. Most of the Indian students who dropped Australia may have been won over by Canada. Today, there are more than 30,000 Indian students in the “Land of the Maple Leaf.” But Australia has fought back and recovered most of the lost ground.
Apart from these top destinations, other countries are also trying to charm Indian students. Among them are Germany, Singapore, Russia, and New Zealand, mainly, but France, Italy, and the Netherlands, too. Here’s a quick glance.
Germany is a “Land of Ideas” that encourages research, but it’s facing a shortage of skilled personnel. It has therefore fine-tuned its immigration policy to increase the availability of expert professionals. “Deutschland” welcomes talented students to join its universities, most of them government-funded.
German institutions now host more than 11,800 student from India, according to the German Missions in India website. Apart from its 1,000 international degree programs in the English medium, international students are drawn by its tuition-fee-waiver schemes, scholarships, and job opportunities.
Top courses: Engineering and Technology; Energy; Biological and Life Sciences; Natural Sciences; Business, Economics, and Administration; Art; Humanities and Social Sciences; Sport; and Law.
Tuition fee: As most German universities are government-funded, the tuition fee for many postgraduate (PG) courses is low in public universities. Moreover, scholarships are available.
Cost of living: Berlin, which has three of the top German universities, is a student-budget-friendly city with lower rentals and lower cost of living than US or UK cities. Munich, where two top universities are located, is not only a student center but also a fun city that hosts Oktoberfest.
Job opportunities: Once students complete their PG, they can apply for a visa that allows them to stay on for 18 months and search for a job. Knowledge of German is not a prerequisite for applying for visa, though it is necessary for better job opportunities (and quality social life). Practical classes make students eminently employable by industries. However, as elsewhere, a degree doesn’t guarantee you a job; it only equips you for it.
Advantages: Student jobs are quite easily available. Knowledge of English comes in handy for learning German.
Disadvantages: The winters are cold, dark, and rainy. You need to know German to get a regular job and build a career.
In some ways, going east rather than west is a better idea for Indian students. Singapore has emerged as a top education destination, offering lower tuition fees compared with the West, good job opportunities, and excellent quality of life. Over 3,000 Indian students leave for Singapore every year.
Top courses: Business, Economics, and Administration; Engineering and Technology; and Humanities and Social Sciences.
Tuition fee: Tuition fees for many courses are much lower than they are in US and UK universities. Many reputed universities from the West have opened campuses from where Indian students can earn their degrees at subsidized fees.
Cost of living: If you live on campus, you won’t have to worry too much about the rent. Indian food is cheap and available. Transport is cheap and convenient.
Job opportunities: The city-state accommodates nearly 8,000 MNCs, although at 720 sq.km. it’s only half the size of Delhi. As an international degree student, you can work part-time for 16 hours a week. After your studies, you start an internship with a company and get trained, and you may be absorbed. If you aren’t, you can remain in Singapore for a year to find a job.
Advantages: Singapore is safe and secure. It is also much nearer home than other destinations. There is also a sizeable Indian community. The tropical climate also helps.
Disadvantages: Singapore is a concrete jungle, though a beautiful one at that. It is difficult to socialize as people have little time to spare after work.
About 5,000 Indian students now study in Russia; most are pursuing their medical degrees. Courses in business management, IT, aircraft engineering, and oil and gas exploration also beckon Indian students. “Good value for money spent” is a mantra for Indians, and that is what Russian courses offer.
Top courses: Biological and Life Sciences; Natural Sciences; Engineering and Technology; Business, Economics, and Administration; Humanities and Social Sciences; Arts; Energy; Law; and Sport.
Tuition fee: The Russian government subsidizes the tuition fee of foreign students in state universities by up to 80 percent. The fees at private institutions are between $2,500 and $8,500 per year. Medical colleges collect fees between $20,000 and $35,000.
Cost of living: Moscow has high rentals, but students beat this problem by staying on campus. Public transport is cheap and reliable. Indian messes are an option.
Job opportunities: After amendments to the law, international students can now work legally in Russia. Foreign students can find legal employment on the strength of their student visas, but it is important to know Russian. The wages are low.
Advantages: Russians are warm toward Indians. But the extremely cold winters are barely manageable. Women are treated with respect and they feel safe. Generally, safety and security have improved over the years.
Disadvantages: You can’t get by knowing only English, and you need to pick up Russian. This is not the best place for vegetarians. Beware of smooth operators offering admissions to “English-medium courses” and inexpensive accommodation.
Like Australia, New Zealand has revved up its drive to attract more international students, particularly Indians. The result is that the number of Indian students touched 20,000 in 2014. This is big, considering that UK itself had only 18,320 Indian students in 2014-15.
Top courses: Engineering and Technology; Tourism; Hospitality; Business Management; Aviation; Life Sciences; Health Studies; Humanities; and Arts.
Tuition fee: Tuition fees can vary widely between universities. Generally, PG studies can cost between $7,000 and $21,000 depending on the course. However, scholarships are available.
Cost of living: A student should be ready to spend $4,500 to $8,000 annually depending on the location and the individual’s lifestyle. The cheapest accommodation comes at about $320 per month.
Job opportunities: Students can work for a maximum of 20 hours a week during semesters and full time during holidays. A student visa can be extended by a year for a job search after studies. However, some job-seekers have found that local candidates are preferred for well-paying jobs.
Advantages: New Zealand is a tourists’ paradise that provides various opportunities for outdoor activities. English is spoken in most parts of the country.
Disadvantages: Extremely cold winters, the 17-hour flight to/from India, and expensive essentials.
Italy, France, and the Netherlands are also among nations gaining popularity among Indian students.
As many as 3,000 Indian students are enrolled at universities in France. About 700 courses are now taught in English, and 300 scholarships are available to the best students from India. The India-France Job Opportunities Board assists Indians with degrees from France in matching their qualifications with vacancies at French companies operating in India.
Italy, which has a hoary tradition of university education, is also wooing Indian students with scholarships. Although many courses are taught in English, the medium for most programs is Italian.
The Netherlands offers 1,900 courses at 60 institutions. Since the 1990s, many premier colleges have started courses in English. Opportunities for high-end research in computer science and electronics are available. However, the cost of living and the weather are challenges for Indian students.