Indian students are giving a pass to the former hot study destination, Australia, in favour of evergreen destinations like the UK, US and Canada.
Changes in visa laws, coupled with a host of ‘racially-motivated’ acts of violence, appear to be the main concern for Indian students going to Australia. “In the last academic year itself, we saw an overall decline of more than 60 per cent in Indian students going to Australia. The market is going through a correction mode as there was an unrealistic and unsustainable increase in the number of students that went to countries such as Australia and New Zealand because of the permanent residence (PR) options available. Students keen on getting the PR only may change their plans,” says Naresh Gulati, CEO, Oceanic Consultants.
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Pranjal Kalita, Asst Manager-Marketing at IDP Education, concurs there are two kinds of students going abroad — those who are serious about education and those who prefer foreign countries for their livelihood and immigration purposes. While there has been an overall decline of 50 per cent in the students going to Australia this year due to its new skilled occupation list, “there has not been much decline in the number of students sincere about pursuing only education in that country”.
Gulati points out that unscrupulous students are prepared to do anything to go overseas including using fraudulent means. They generally opt for courses and institutions that have a lower course fee and do not demand serious studies. With visa offices for almost all countries becoming vary of this segment, student visas are increasingly being denied. Thus, the fall in numbers.
Amit Menghani, president, Federation of Indian Students of Australia (FISA), agrees that the estimated enrollment of Indian students in Australia has dropped by 45 per cent this year. “Indian students are reluctant to consider Australia for private education after many fake colleges closed in Australia. In fact, many students are now planning to go back after the changes in the immigration and other policies,” he says.He, however, adds that “Indian students may choose other countries this year but opportunities might rise again in Australia depending upon the requirement of the students.”
Meanwhile, Australia’s pain is US’ gain. For instance, according to Open Doors 2009 survey, the total number of Indian students studying in the US increased by nine per cent in 2008-2009 — from 94,563 to 103,260. This is the highest number ever for students from a foreign country studying in the US, with the number only set to rise this year.
Indian students spend around $4 billion on higher studies abroad every year. They contributed around Rs 12,500 crore ($2.75 billion) to the US economy as tuition and living expenses and every sixth international student enrolled in US higher education institutions is from India. Opportunities in
M Phil programmes offered by the US and Canadian universities, for instance, are considered better than those offered by any other university in the world, say education consultants. Moreover, the post-graduate course is of two years against the one year offered by the UK. One-year degree programmes are not popular with many employers back in India.The UK and US, meanwhile, continue to be a favourite with Indian students for the better infrastructure and technology they offer, in spite of tightened security restrictions and visa stringent regulations, according to an official from Visa Zone, an Ahmedabad-based overseas education consultancy. However, Canada’s popularity has taken a minor hit since the announcement that only 20,000 visa applications will be accepted.
Meanwhile, students have also turned to fresh pastures like Germany and Sweden for the free education these countries offer. These countries levy no fee on foreign students enrolling in universities. Education consultants have seen a 50 per cent rise in the number of students going to Germany and even France this year for courses in pharmacy and engineering.
However, language barrier may be the reason why more Indians are discouraged to go to these countries, the official noted.