New Delhi: The traditionally popular study-abroad destinations for Indian students — Australia, New Zealand and Canada — have seen the number of students decreasing over the last three years while the popularity of the United Kingdom has gone up.
Reasons have varied from Covid to countries getting stricter in selecting students, say experts.
Data shared in the Rajya Sabha Wednesday shows that from 2019 to 2021, the overall number of students going abroad for studies came down. While in 2019-20, 5,86,337 Indian students went abroad, the numbers were low in the pandemic years — 2,59,655 in 2020-21 and 4,44,553 in 2021-22.
When it comes to destination specific numbers, New Zealand saw the numbers declining, with only 64 students going there in 2021-22 as opposed to 5,321 in 2020-21 and 10,297 in 2019-20.
Australia saw a similar trend when the numbers tumbled down from 73,808 in 2019-20 to 8,950 in 2021-22. Same with Canada where the numbers went down from 1,32,620 in 2019-20 to 1,02,688 in 2021-22. All these three countries have traditionally been attracting the most number of students from India.
The trend, however, changed recently with the UK catching up as a preferred destination. From 36,612 in 2019-20, the numbers rose to 44,901 in 2020-21 and 77,855 in 2021-22.
As for the US, the numbers have not changed much after the pandemic drop. In 2019-20, 1,22,535 students went there for higher education. It dropped to 62,415 in 2020-21 and then went up again to 1,25,115 in 2021-22.
Also Read: For Indian students going abroad, only destinations change — and the crisis
Talking about the change in trends, experts said Australia and New Zealand have only lost students because of their Covid-led visa restrictions and the numbers will pick up next year. For Canada, they said that it is now getting stricter with the kind of students entering there and, hence, there is a drop.
Sumeet Jain, co-founder and higher education expert at study abroad platform Yocket, said, “Australia and New Zealand just opened up their gates to students. They have lost the momentum because of the Covid restrictions. It will pick-up now as the restrictions have been eased.”
Talking about Canada, he said it has been “very strict with people going on student visas because a lot of them who go there do not have good profiles, and now they want to reject such profiles. Probably it does not match with what they want to do in the future or the vision they have for their country…”
About the UK numbers going up, he said, “The numbers have gone up because the UK has opened post-work visas for students. This term was the one where they fully saw the effect post-pandemic and, hence, numbers are looking good. However, it is to be seen how this goes in the future, and if the numbers still look up.”
“If the UK also starts to get strict like Canada with the kind of applications they are accepting, the numbers will not rise as much in the future.”
Natasha Jain, a Delhi-based consultant for foreign education, added, “With the UK Prime Minister talking about restrictions on foreign students and accepting only those who come for big universities, the UK numbers might not be as high in the future.”
However, she said it would be better to wait and watch how the policies unfold in the future. “In the meantime, students are cashing in on the post-study visa opportunity.”
(Edited by V.S.Chandrasekar)
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