After two years of massive disruption in their plans, Indian students are set to resume flocking to foreign universities in even larger numbers this year, aided by easing visa rules and mobility restrictions.
Edtech companies estimate the number of Indian students heading to the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Europe will not only revert to the pre-pandemic numbers but, in some cases, even increase multifold.
The biggest beneficiary could be UK, which is expected to see an almost 600% jump in Indian students this year compared with 2019. There is also a surge in visa applications and student loans for Australia, now that borders have opened up.
University admission platform LeverageEdu, expects a total of 250,000 students to head to the UK this year, compared with around 36,000 in 2019. According to the firm, the UK continued to host students from India during the pandemic, with about 100,000 heading there in 2021 and 75,000 in 2020.
“According to government data, we watched international student inflows to Canada and the US fall considerably in 2020 with the pandemic. However, interest has rebounded in Canada, and early signs suggest a similar rebound in the US as well,” said Karunn Kandoi, general manager and head of India operations at edtech platform ApplyBoard.
“The UK has been able to resist pandemic-related decline according to data we have access to at this time.”
According to ApplyBoard, the number of Indian students in the UK grew by 52% between the 2019/20 and 2020/21 academic years. LeverageEdu estimates 150,000 students will head for Australia compared with 180,000 in 2019 and 150,000 in 2018.
Changes in work and study permits have been a factor.
ApplyBoard cites Canada’s Post Graduate Work Permit Program (PGWPP), which gives students who have graduated from a designated learning institution (DLI) the opportunity to stay and work in Canada post-graduation.
“There’s been a surge of program interest from Indian students over the past five years, culminating in more than 70,000 PGWPP approvals in 2020,” it added.
Business management and STEM (science, tech, engineering and maths) programs are the most sought-after courses for outward bound students. Easy loans, reduced collateral and hybrid programmes where students can study online and offline have made getting a foreign degree more attractive.
“The volume of students heading to the US and Canada will increase by 3x,” said Ashwini Kumar, fintech company MPOWER Financing’s general manager (India) and vice president. Noting the rise in customers, the firm doubled its loan amount option to $100,000 last year.
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