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A Look into the Number of Indian Students Studying Abroad

Being one of the most populous countries in the world, India is right behind China in the race to send students abroad to study. As the demand for higher education abroad keeps rising, experts estimate that Indian students will spend almost USD 85 billion on higher education to study abroad by 2024.

What Attracts Indian Students to Pursue Overseas Education?

Several factors are responsible for students opting for other countries to pursue higher education. While world-renowned universities, fantastic research opportunities and career growth are some of the primary reasons, you can also include the following to the list:

  • Better quality of life
  • Higher salary packages
  • International exposure

The promise of a better life is hard to ignore, especially since India still struggles to provide work opportunities to the millions of students graduating every year.

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How Many Indian Students Go Abroad for Studies?

According to the Bureau of Immigration (BoI), 1,33,135 Indian students have left India to pursue higher education abroad in the first three months of 2022. In 2021, the total number of Indian students who left India was 4,44,553. This is almost a 71% increase from the number of students wanting to study in colleges abroad in 2020.

According to official reports, almost 1.09 million Indian students were studying abroad as of January 2021. The popular destinations for these students were the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and more.

Canada is one of the leading countries that welcomes thousands of Indian students with open arms. It has surpassed top contenders like the USA and the UK to be the #1 country where Indians wish to study after completing 12th grade.

What Factors Contribute to the Student Numbers in Different Countries?

Canada and the USA are two of the top choices for Indian students. The two countries have proved themselves to be the leaders of higher education, with Canada having 3 and the USA having 17 universities in the Top 50 of the QS World University rankings 2023.

So, it’s natural to wonder, “Why are there fewer Indian students in the USA than in Canada if the USA has more renowned universities?” The answer is pretty simple.

Higher education in the USA is EXPENSIVE!

Completing an undergraduate course in the USA is estimated to be approximately USD 20,000 to USD 40,000 yearly (approx. INR 16,52,940 – INR 33,05,880). This doesn’t even include the cost of living, which can raise your yearly expenses by an additional USD 15,000 (approx. INR 12,40,000).

In other words, most Indian students can’t afford such hefty costs unless they can secure a full scholarship. On the contrary, Canada is pretty affordable.

The average tuition fee for an undergraduate course in Canada is CAD 30,000 (approx. INR 18,08,360) per year, while the cost of living is CAD 15,000 (approx. INR 9,04,180).

In addition to the tuition and living expenses, students have to consider other factors while applying to higher educational institutes abroad:

  • College acceptance rates
  • Living arrangements
  • Ease of visa application
  • Acceptance rates for visa
  • Student-friendly environment

The number of Indian students in Canada has risen considerably throughout the years. The numbers reached an all-time high of 255,000 in 2020 before borders closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the visa backlogs, restricted travelling and mandatory quarantine requirements in 2021, the country still managed to attract 217,410 new applications.

Top Student Destinations in Leading Countries

  • Canada:

The top study destinations for students in Canada are:

1. McGill University

McGill University in Montreal, Canada, occupies a rank of 31 on the QS World University Rankings. The institute has an acceptance rate of 33.6% and has over 700 Indian students on campus.

2. The University of Toronto

The University of Toronto in Toronto, Canada, occupies the 34th rank and is well known for its high-quality education. The institute has an acceptance rate of 43% and has over 2000 Indian students studying at the university.

3. University of British Columbia

Located in Vancouver, Canada, the University of British Columbia occupies the 47th rank on the QS World University Rankings and is another popular destination for students in India. With a 52.4% acceptance rate, this university has over 700 Indian-origin students.

Canada’s relaxed acceptance rates, post-study work permit and ease of obtaining permanent residency have made the country a hot spot for Indian students. From January to March 2022, almost 41,000 study permits have already been issued, and experts estimate that 2022 might witness a record-breaking allocation of study permits to Indian students.

The United States of America

Moving on to the USA, the top student destinations include:

1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

With a #1 rank on the QS World University Rankings and an acceptance rate of 4.1% (the least of all reputed institutes in the USA), it isn’t the top choice for many students because of the intense competition to secure a seat. Still, the institute has several Indian students studying various courses.

2. Stanford University

Stanford University in San Francisco has a better acceptance rate than MIT – 7.7%. While it’s not a significant improvement, it is still one of the better Ivy League colleges where Indian students dream of pursuing their higher education.

3. University of California

The University of California in Los Angeles has an acceptance rate of 14.4%. So even though it isn’t within the top 10 universities in the USA, it is well-known for its excellent faculty and great infrastructure.

The USA has several universities where students can seek admission. So, it’s not surprising that almost 100,000 Indian students have already applied to institutes in the USA (till June 2022).

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Summing it up,

The trend among Indian students to apply to higher educational institutes abroad rises due to the desire to obtain quality education and better career opportunities. Over 1 lakh Indian students have departed India to the USA, Canada, and other countries to pursue higher studies. As international travel becomes less restrictive and universities worldwide welcome students back to campus for offline classes, the number of Indian students opting for overseas education is estimated to rise significantly.

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