What's The Point Of Studying Abroad?

Akhil Shahani, Managing Director, The Shahani GroupA recent report says that there has been a 30%-40% drop in Indian students going to the US & UK for higher studies. The major reason being cited is that it is now very difficult to find a job in these countries after graduation due to visa restrictions and an overall shortage of jobs. Considering the high cost of foreign education, many students now feel that the return on their investment will not be sufficient due to this dire job situation. Some students are applying to universities in countries like Canada and Australia which make it easier for them to find a job after their studies are over. However, the economies of these countries are not growing fast enough to generate enough jobs for all immigrants. Additionally, they primarily offer jobs to foreign students who have done their master’s degrees in specialized areas like data analytics or medicine, where there is a shortage of local talent. Foreign students who do an undergraduate or post graduate degree in general areas like business, media or liberal arts do not have many job openings available to them. India, being the fastest growing large economy in the world, would seem to offer the best jobs opportunities for Indian graduates.

Considering that many new quality private universities and colleges offering a wide range of courses have sprung up in India, the question arises if there is any real benefit for an Indian student to study abroad.

A major advantage of studying abroad is the great exposure to international environments and people this offers to the Indian student. There are many global insights & best practices which can only be learned through experiencing them first hand in a foreign country. Hence, studying abroad makes sense
for a student who comes from a well off family that can afford to pay the high fees and is not too dependent on the salary from a foreign job to recover this cost. It could also be useful for a student who has gained admission into a top ranked university in a highly specialized discipline where there is a huge demand from local companies. Indian students outside these two categories may not benefit as much from a foreign education.

A major advantage of studying abroad is the great exposure to international environments and people this offers to the Indian student

One aspect that should be highlighted is that Indian recruiters tend to prefer students who possess foreign degrees. The reason being these students have the benefit of international education which is useful in many job roles in India. Surveys show that although fresh graduates with foreign degrees do not command much higher salaries than their counterparts with Indian degrees at the entry level, they are able to get 35%-40% higher salaries with faster promotions as their careers progress.

So, how can an Indian student benefit from the advantages of international education while studying in India?
An increasing number of Indian colleges have partnered with top universities in the UK, US & Australia to offer pathway or twinning programs. In these courses, the Indian student studies the first 2-3 years in the Indian college and completes the final 1-2 years in the campus of the foreign university with the degree being granted by the foreign university. Some MBA programs offer the full two years of study in India with the final course modules being completed online with the foreign university. The advantage of these programs is that the Indian student gets the benefit of international pedagogy with the prestige of a foreign degree with fees which are half or one third less than what they would pay for the taking the full course abroad. The reduced cost of these pathway programs along with the higher long term salary the graduate can get in India make this a viable option for students who dream of getting a foreign degree.

For the average student, it is worth exploring the many options of high quality education in India before choosing to bear the huge expense of studying abroad.