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Choosing Overseas Over Home:

Created On: 16-07-2018,12:43 PM

The Number of Indian Students Going Abroad is on the Rise

Aarav is a brilliant student who has scored well in his XII board exams but it still couldn’t fetch him a seat in his preferred college and the course. Someone suggested him to consider pursuing higher education abroad. Now, he is all set to commence his preferred undergraduate course in a university in Canada.



Let us consider another example of Palak who seeks to pursue Masters in Fashion Photography. She believes that due to an increased focus on theoretical education and less chances of exposure to the profession in India, her creativity will not be utilized fully and hence she would not be able to discover her full potential. Therefore, she hopes to make her place in a renowned fashion school in London.

Aarav and Palak represents a group of students in India who either fail to get into the top colleges and universities in India due to high competition and irrational cutoffs or due to the curriculum in many Indian institutes which often falls below the curriculum provided by the foreign universities. Indian students who are usually unable to grab a seat in Indian universities are welcomed by foreign universities.

Key Trends in Global Higher Education

Students from all over the world are choosing to study abroad in larger numbers and in different countries and the volume of student mobility presently is at an all-time high which is expected to further rise owing to which higher education stakeholders are devising new ways to draw students to their country. Let us look at the trends in the global scenario of overseas education which have been prevalent in the recent years.



Apart from the top destination and source countries, take a look at the Best Cities in the World for International Students. The only Indian city that has made it to the Top 100 Best Student Cities is Mumbai owing to its famed IIT Bombay and the Mumbai University.

What are some Competitive Exams to get going for Overseas Studies?

What deserves a mention in any conversation revolving around foreign education are the competitive exams which form an important criteria for securing a seat at various foreign universities. Following are some important and standardized exams that anyone who aspires to study abroad should be aware:

GRE (Graduate Record Examination): For pursuing a Master's or doctoral degree; over 6.9 lakh students had taken the exam in 2017.

TOEFL (Test of English As A Foreign Language): Measures one’s English Language ability; over 27 million people all over the world had taken the test in 2016.

IELTS (International English Language Testing System): Measures English proficiency; in 2016, the number of test takers stood over 3 million.

GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test): Intended to assess analytical writing and problem-solving abilities for management aspirants. A total of 2,50,884 GMAT exams were taken in 2017.

SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test): For undergraduate courses in USA, Canada, Singapore etc.; more than 1.75 million students appeared for SAT in 2017.

LSAT (Law School Admission Test): For students who wish to pursue a career in law in the USA, Australia and Canada. Over 27K appeared for the exam in 2017-18.

MCAT (Medical College Admissions Test): It is a mandatory exam for getting admission into undergraduate courses in the U.S medical schools.

A Look at the Trends in India
India sends the most students overseas, after China. The following points will explain the hype around foreign universities and the current trends in overseas education in India.


As one plans to study abroad, one of the pressing concerns is usually of which subject they should pursue. With boundless range of alternatives to choose from, it is a tough call to decide that one subject that would be a perfect fit.


International Competitive Exams in India

Here is the Indian perspective of the students appearing in international standardized exams:

• Starting with the GRE, the number of Indian students appearing for the exam has seen an overall growth, from over 47K in 2010 to over a lakh students in 2016.

• About IELTS, more than 3 million tests were taken in 2016 globally, India being one of the top most countries in terms of the number of tests conducted.

• Even GMAT has seen a rise in the number of students appearing for the exam. In a 5 years’ period, from 2013- 2017, the number rose from over 25K to over 32K i.e. approximately a growth of 28%.

The Ivy League Competition

India faces stiff competition from the Ivy League universities- these are eight universities in the US which connote academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism; these universities are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton University, and Yale University.

The number of Indian students flying to the US had fallen in 2017 owing to the restrictive visa norms, yet US remains the top destination for Indian students. In India, students scoring a laudable 90% find the Ivy League more accessible than the Delhi University. Another significant move has been in the middle class segment- earlier, it was only the wealthy Indian families who would send their kids to the best foreign universities, while the middle-class ones used to settle for DU as the cheaper and best option. But with DU, IIMs, IITs increasingly becoming out of reach for many students and also due to lack of prestigious universities in India, these foreign universities have become their happy choice. In addition to the dreams of many Indian students, the Ivy League has also become India’s safety schools.


Apart from Harvard, Columbia and Cornell which show a definitive growth from 2016 to 2017 enrollments, the other universities also imply a growth or that India is the top source country of their students. The Brown University and the Dartmouth University, India stood in the top five contributors for both of them in 2017. Pennsylvania had 48% of its students coming from Asia in 2017 of which India and China have a significant share. And, the Yale University had seen a rise in its Indian students from 170 in 2015 to 184 in 2016. The rise and the popularity of the foreign colleges is clearly reflected by these figures and says a lot about the demand for foreign education by the Indian students.

Studying Abroad- A Happy Choice

For decades, the foreign degree has been a great dream for many Indian students, a way to not just get an excellent education, but also a fast track to move to the West. With a mixed bag of reasons ranging from increasing competition, dreams to fulfill or simply to adopt a more practical approach in their process of learning, students are choosing overseas over home.

Talking about the IIMs and the IITs, they have an acceptance rate of around 2-3% and India doesn’t have enough eminent institutes that can cater to its population which leads to students turning to other countries.

Indian student growth overseas is powered by various factors and is still expected to grow further. With the increasing purchase power, globalization of ideas and upcoming new career options and moreover the willingness to adopt new careers, expectation of high-quality education, the international value placed on foreign degrees and the opportunity to form a lifelong connection with a foreign country, Indian students are clearly inclined towards awarding themselves with a foreign degree.


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