Confused with the recent developments of the Brexit and the swearing-in ceremony of the British PM Theresa May, who has rather conservative views on immigrants, Indian students are considering other international study destinations to pursue their higher studies. Co-founder at interEDGE, a student education firm based out of the US, Rahul Choudaha commented on the current trend in education by stating that stricter visa and immigration norms, an uncertain economy and declining job opportunities for foreign students were turning away Indian students who had considered studying in the UK for higher studies. The situation is no different from that in the US, with the Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s stand against immigrations to the US that is making prospective Indian students nervous. It might be noteworthy to mention that the perceived threat in the US is not as grave as that in the UK for two basic reasons, first that Trump’s outburst is directed towards the immigrant low-skilled workers than students who enrol with the universities in the US. Secondly, recent opinion polls indicate that Trump is not the popular choice for President among the US voters, especially after the conclusion of the convention. However, the uncertainty that looms over American leadership has driven most Indian students to seek alternative study destinations across the world that promise opportunities and stability.
Emerging study destinations like China, France, Germany, Ireland and New Zealand are now a popular choice among Indian students. However, despite the challenges, the US continues to stand as the top study destination for Indian students, followed by countries like Australia and Canada. Newer study destinations are emerging as favourites among Indian students due to attractive immigration policies that promise student retention post course completion. Education consultant, Maria Mathai from Delhi stated that studies on the mobility of Indian students published by them show that Britain is on a downward curve when it comes to being a study destination of choice for international students. Maria further added that an interesting development of this decline is that North America, followed by countries like Australia and New Zealand, have emerged as the preferred study destinations among students of Indian origin. The number of Indian students going abroad to pursue higher studies stands at 3.6 lakhs and has grown considerably for all countries except for the UK which is experiencing a steady decline in numbers. It is evident by the growing number of Indian students, who are enrolling in German and Chinese Universities that Indian students are not driven by options that seem promising and comfortable and are willing to study in countries where learning the native language is mandatory.
New Zealand is now emerging as the popular study destination among Indian students because of an attractive skilled migration program introduced by the New Zealand Government, which is presently welcoming a large number of immigrant population. The conversion rates from study to work visas and work to PR visas are the highest for Indian students. Education New Zealand’s CEO, Grant McPherson, stated that Indian students, studying in New Zealand find it lucrative as the courses are designed in a manner that makes them job ready and hence opens up employment avenues for students post-graduation. McPherson says that Indian students will not get adversely affected by the recent rejections of thousands of fraudulent visas of student applicants who wanted to visit New Zealand without the intent to study in the country. McPherson further added that Immigration New Zealand does a rather detailed assessment of the documentation and applications submitted by Indians for student visas.
Starting 1st July 2016, New Zealand introduced a new and robust Code of Practice to efficiently handle visa applications by international students that are designed to keep fraudulent applicants at bay. Drayson Mascarenhas, a student arriving from Mumbai to study at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, in order to pursue a Master’s Degree in Applied Finance, finds the university’s hands-on teaching methodology, internship and summer job opportunities available in NZ a very attractive proposition. Although Mascarenhas said he would have to study hard while on campus, he felt that finding employment post course completion would not be a challenging prospect.
Far from the English-speaking region of New Zealand, Germany too has been attracting overseas students to enrol in its universities. A senior official of the German Academic Exchange Service stated that doctorate and higher studies in the UK might become expensive after the Brexit vote, leaving other European countries to stand benefitted from this development. Maxillofacial and Oral surgeon Vinay V Kumar, who hails from Bengaluru, dropped out from colleges in the UK and US and instead chose to train at the University of Mainz (Johannes Gutenberg) in New Zealand.
When it comes to training Surgeons, Dentists and high-end super-speciality courses, Germany is fast emerging as the preferred destination for international students. Kumar, who is pursuing his MD PhD at Rostock’s University Medical Center, stated that he opted to study in Germany because of the high-quality training provided to students. PhD student at the Dresden Leibniz Graduate School, Neelakshi Joshi, who is training to be an architect, stated that Germany had become a favourite spot for non-EU students when a couple of years ago, Britain had changed its visa rules for students requiring them to leave the country immediately after graduating, allowing them no opportunity to stay back and seek employment in the country. In contrast, Germany allowed international non-EU students to stay back and seek employment for a period of 18 months post course completion date. Among other European destinations, France is also fast emerging as the study destination among Indian students. Attache for University Cooperation, Sapna Sachdeva, at Campus France, stated that research institutes and courses in France ranked as the third-best study destination among the global student community.
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