Indians getting educated abroad has been prevalent for quite long and there have been various reports indicating the increase in these numbers in certain countries housing the top universities of the world.
The Indian students go abroad to pursue degree courses at graduate, postgraduate and doctoral level along with some non-degree programs. Looking at the exact numbers in the top two destinations of higher education, it is seen that the UK had the number of Indian students being 26,685 while the US had 2,02,014 in 2019 and these numbers have hiked as compared to the previous year.
The numbers of Indians are by and large hiking similarly in other countries having top ranking universities of the world. The intent of brilliant students to pursue higher degree programs from the institutions should be straight away viewed as their refusal to accept the commensurate Indian higher degree programs to be at par with the programs abroad.
For example, any engineering student graduating from the best IIT of the country will always consider the institutions abroad as their destination for further education, meaning thereby that even the best institutions are not able to attract their brilliant ones to the higher degree program offered by them.
Such observations can be had in almost all fields except those traditional ones like Sanskrit, vernacular languages, some religion, astrology, etc. for which opportunities are not there in the institutions abroad. The acceptance of Indian students in the institutions abroad is driven by their competency being appropriate to pursue education there as well as the presence of foreign students fetching earnings to them.
The increasing number of Indians aspiring for higher education abroad should be viewed from the perspective of the availability of higher education, academic culture in higher education, quality of education up to the higher secondary level in the country, money drain along with the ease of fulfilling aspirations to study abroad and affordability in the Indian students.
Availability Of Higher Education
Introspection shows that there were inadequate opportunities for higher education in the pre-independence era and the gross enrolment ratio (GER) was very poor as compared to present GER crossing 26 marks.
Post-independence, there has been significant improvement in the availability of higher education which is currently through 993 universities, 39931 colleges with 3.73 crore students and 14.16 lac teachers in the public and private sector.
With such imposing statistics, the country holds pride in having a place among the few large higher education systems of the world, primarily due to the number of aspirants. Undoubtedly, the quantitative improvement in the number of institutions has offered better access to higher education and students can choose the courses of their choice for further study based on their academic merit and other capabilities.
Today, the country boasts of having the best centers of learning in almost every stream of higher education with the provision of admissions through highly competitive admission tests. The admission in the top premier higher education institutions (HEIs) of the country is considered a matter of pride in the society and post-secondary students have the highest esteem after getting into them.
The country’s ambitious target of achieving GER up to 50 by 2030 will yield an exponential increase in the number of such institutions resulting in the obvious increase in access to higher education. The annual exodus of students to foreign institutions for higher education requires a paradigm shift in the approach from just achieving numbers of intake to the creation of intake with adequate teaching-learning facilities, human resources, and ambiance.
Academic Culture In Higher Education
Kudos to the National institutional ranking framework (NIRF) in successfully bringing the differing institutions for being compared at a common platform. The society gets insight into the HEIs and is amply benefitted by this ranking exercise.
Also, the HEIs have started focusing on their improvement on various ranking parameters which makes an overall positive impact on the quality of education. But the truth is that the top-ranking HEIs as per NIRF is not exemplary in the global ranking despite admitting the best brains of the second most populous nation of the world.
Parametric evaluation of HEIs apropos of global ranking parameters shows a significant gap as compared to the world’s best HEIs. The migration of Indian students getting admitted in undergraduate courses after passing through the toughest admission tests indicates that they do not find Indian HEIs up to the mark for further post-graduation/doctoral-level education in the fields having admission possibilities abroad and eventually migrate out.
Amongst the specific considerations with every student going abroad for higher education, the generic ones are the inadequacy for,
- quality of teaching-learning process
- teaching & research infrastructure
- industry linkage and employability
- research and innovation
- assessment, accreditation, and ranking
- education financing etc.
Therefore, the student aspirations inevitably seek attention for improvement along with correction of the prevailing deficit of pupil to teacher ratio immediately for retaining the worth of the majority of HEIs to good students.
Public sector institutions look for major reforms concerning the above attributes along with honest efforts to bring in a credible & committed institutional governance of suitable academic merit as the instrument to carry the mission of excellence forward.
Quality Of Education Up To The Higher Secondary Level
Primary, secondary and higher secondary education prepares the students for higher education and the deficiencies at either of referred level(s) culminate in limiting the potential of student performance in higher education. But in the context of Indian students, it is usually perceived that they are rigorously trained to compete and make up the educational gaps through self-learning.
The exhaustive training given to students up to higher secondary level enables them to work hard in all kinds of circumstances and challenges.
Also, the seriousness of school education towards strengthening the fundamentals of students to excel in STEM through immense practice for seeking admission in good degree programs empowers them for performing well in further higher education in these areas.
The quality of education before tertiary education level does not prohibit from pursuing higher education abroad.
Indian spending on education abroad has been reported to have undergone a rise. This increase is attributed largely to students opting for self-funded education either due to the unavailability of admission to the aspired degree program or due to the quality of the available courses & opportunities in the country.
Along with students moving abroad to study the other expenditure by their families in travel, stay, etc. concerning their wards have also increased. This movement of students pursuing higher degrees in the universities abroad is encouraged by the respective countries for capitalizing on the compound receipts in the Institution and all associated services.
It is also worthwhile to see that the foreigners spending on education in India is quite meager. Lesser number of foreign students result in lower receipts and also affect the internationalization component of global institution rankings.
Recent proclamation in budget 2020 for conducting admission tests similar to those conducted by the US for admitting Asian and African students is a welcome step but should be exercised on a supernumerary basis so that the opportunities for Indians are not sacrificed. India’s young population being in large numbers is the most natural target to fetch the students for the top universities in the world.
The precarious situation arising due to the brilliant ones migrating out for studying and then employment abroad requires affirmative actions to strengthen Indian HEIs through adequate financing and policy support to retain the intellectual capabilities within the country for competing globally.
The country needs heavy investment in its top ranking institutions for raising the quality of education to world standards especially at the postgraduate and doctoral levels.
Ease Of Fulfilling Aspirations
Students perceive the study in foreign universities to end up in better employment potential. The state of the economy of the country is largely responsible for the inadequacy of employment prospects which leads to the undergraduate students finding it easier to go out for study and get placed suitably.
The civic amenities, social order and environment around in the developed nations tempt our students abroad to continue living outside India for a better life and living standard. In certain cases, the families and media discussing the general hardships in India contribute to motivating the innocent minds to escape out instead of getting retained in the country and serve it to the best of their capabilities.
Affordability In The Indian Students
The India Human Development Survey reports growth in income and increasing the middle class in the country. This increment enables a large chunk of the population to incur major spending on higher education abroad and the deportation by choice may be driven by one or more of the following major factors;
- inability to get admission in top institutions in the country
- inability to get the courses of the choice
- the high social outlook of foreign education
- foreign exposure offering better employment opportunities in the country
- better employment potential abroad
- higher living standards and ease of life abroad, etc.
Thus, the issue of why Indians go to study abroad has varying implications on the country’s social, economic, educational and whole development spectrum. The ineluctable facts of student migration to any foreign land for study inexorably point to the creation of world-class programs at postgraduate and doctoral levels in the Indian HEIs.
The adequate financing of higher education, conducive policy framework & environment, and the committed institutional governance of high merit & integrity have all the potential to transform the scenario of higher education. The country needs collective efforts to retain the country’s best brain and attract the world’s best brain for its inclusive growth on all accounts to get into the league of developed nations at the earliest.
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