4 trends for Indian university students studying abroad

Trend 1

STEM courses (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) will remain the top preferences for Indian students for studying abroad.

Trend 2

Unusual course choices to increase – The Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange shows Indian students in the US are now showing a strong interest in off-beat courses like marine engineering, geophysics, game design and development. One main reason behind the shift is that these interdisciplinary courses are not easily available in their home countries. Also, as parents in India become more supportive of their children’s career choices, students are no longer shying away from choosing the road less travelled.

Trend 3

With the ongoing fourth industrial revolution and rapid progress in automation, machine learning and AI (artificial intelligence), traditional job roles are evolving, and new jobs are coming up. Courses such as Robotics, Automation and Mechatronics are likely to witness increased demand in 2019.

Trend 4

The USA, Canada and UK have been the top destination, but challengers will emerge or pass them – including Australia. Plus, spending on tuition and hostel fees by Indians studying overseas has gone up by 44 per cent from $1.9 billion in 2013-14 to $2.8 billion in 2017-18. Australia now has 68,000 Indian students.


Author: Stephen Manallack

Former President, Australia India Business Council, Victoria and Author, You Can Communicate; Riding the Elephant; Soft Skills for a Flat World (published by Tata McGraw-Hill INDIA); Communicating Your Personal Brand. Director, EastWest Academy Pty Ltd and Trainer/Speaker/Mentor in Leadership, Communication and Cross Cultural Communication. Passionate campaigner for closer western relations with India. Stephen Manallack is a specialist on “Doing Business with India” and advisor/trainer on “Cross-Cultural Understanding”. He is a Director of EastWest Academy Pty Ltd which provides strategic advice and counsel regarding business relations with India. A regular speaker in India on leadership and global communication, his most recent speaking tour included a speech to students of the elite Indian university, Amity University, in Noida. He also spoke at a major Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) global summit, the PR Consultants Association of India in Delhi, the Symbiosis University in Pune and Cross-Cultural Training for Sundaram Business Services in Chennai. He has visited India on business missions on 10 occasions and led three major trade missions there. He provides cross-cultural training – Asia and the west.

2 thoughts on “4 trends for Indian university students studying abroad”

  1. Australia is coming up with rapid pace for Internationalisation of Higher Education particularly in the last 36 months. See a recent report quoted below:


    Published on February 21, 2019
    Ramesh Kumar Nanjundaiya
    Ramesh Kumar Nanjundaiya Follow
    Visiting Professor – Sheshadripuram Educational Trust Institution (SET) & Director, International Trade, IETO, Bengaluru
    CISAC Proposal for development of a Higher Education road map for India via strategic academic collaboration with Foreign Universities:

    2017-18 was yet another year where many Indian students went abroad for their higher studies in the Universities. All the efforts by the government to improve quality of higher education institutions in India has not as yet had any effect. The number of foreign students coming to India has started a decline. Foreign students who come to India are mainly from our neighbouring countries. According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), spending on tuition and hostel fee, air travel, insurance by Indian students studying abroad has shot up by almost 50% in the last 3 years and in the year 2017-18 it has reached a level of US$2.8 billion. As a quick calculation, during the period 2017-18, per available statistics there were approximately 55,000 students from the State of Karnataka (and about a total of 275,000 from the whole of India) who went abroad for their overseas education. Per current calculations, research with a few local banks, on an average, each students has availed of foreign Exchange from Karnataka (via bank loans or support from parents) of a minimum of Rs.15 lacs for the first year of their tuition, boarding and lodging, medical, insurance and other expenses abroad. This translates to about Rs. 750 crores equivalent of Foreign Exchange from Karnataka State alone going outside every year.

    Since the last 10 years from India, there has been a steady increase in overseas expenditure (outflow of the country’s FOREX reserves) for higher education abroad as more and more students from here are continuing to going abroad for pursuing their higher education. The main destinations continues to the USA, UK, Australia, Germany, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, Netherland, France, Russia, Japan and China, in that order. For instance, during the period 2017-18, the number of Indian students studying in the USA alone went upto 190,000 and all the other countries put together is was around 85,000. Since the last 3 years, Australia has been a favourite destination.

    While one does not want to curtain this, how can we improve our Universities so that not only foreign students from developed world (like in China) also come and study in Universities in India and bring in cross cultural competency to our local University students. Known foreign Universities need to come into India now to bring in new pedagogy, new technology, new communication tools, new and advanced subjects, new curriculum for the benefit of our lecturers and students. Today there are over 500,000 foreign students studying in China. About 60% of these in China are from developed countries across the globe. How did this happen. Chinese Universities invite known foreign Universities into their Universities by was of a “strategic academic alliance” and allow them to set up what are called “Center of Excellence” in their local campuses.

    What is CISAC (Center for International Strategic Academic Collaboration) proposal for India:

    } This is essentially a “road map” for foreign Universities willing to establish a ‘Centre of Excellence” in selected campuses of known local Universities (well within the regulations and guidelines of the Ministry of Human Resource Development – MHRD, New Delhi).

    } Foreign Universities can introduce the following advanced subject to known Indian Universities as there is keen interest to know about them: Art and Design: Arts and healthcare, contemporary crafts, ceramics and textiles, Asian arts,

    } Research Collaboration in Health: Bio photonics, advanced genetics, stem cell research, cell & molecular biology, ageing, material science, musculoskeletal rehabilitation, microbiology,

    } Policy Collaboration in Higher Education: New policies and practice, Education of Children and Young People, developing global citizens

    } Creative writing & poetry: Literary criticism & English language.

    } Research Collaboration in Sociology and Social Policy: New issues on Gender & Sexuality, Critical Disability Studies, Urban Geography, sustainable cities, using technology to educate rural women and children in India

    } New Fields: New research in Aviation science, Transport and advanced Communication

    } Research Collaborations: In Sensing & Imaging, Electrochemistry, graphene and carbon nanotubes, Mechanical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Sustainable Ecology and environment protection studies.

    } As starters, one of the suggestion of the proposed CISAC will be to Create ‘Education Hubs‘ or “Centres of Excellences (CoEs)” strategically in Bengaluru and allow reputed overseas institutions and universities to establish a presence in India, through joint initiatives (with any local university in Karnataka) in curriculum design and delivery, branch campuses, train the lecturer initiatives and joint research, skills training and scholarly activities that could help build capacity, reduce the imbalance in student mobility and attract significant export earnings. By this way, the name of the local University image will be enhanced due to the presence of a foreign University strategic tie-up (a type of new branding initiative) by way of a mutually beneficial strategic academic collaboration in a local campus. This will not only bring in foreign students from developed countries to come and experience India and study in India either on a short term or long term basis but also academic technology transfer . The selected foreign University which would set up a Center of Excellence” in a known local university in India will be able to bring in their own students as well as faculty and R&D efforts between the universities to encourage exchange programs, etc.

    Nanjundaiya Ramesh Kumar

    (the writer is a returned NRI banker turned a consultant in Higher Education and specialises in academic collaboration initiatives with foreign Universities with local Universities).



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