According to QS World university ranking, currently India is only second to China in terms of international student enrollment in schools across the globe. This is largely because of its population of 1.26 billion of which more than 50% people are below 25 years of age. Every year over a thousand students from India travel abroad to fulfill their dreams. We took it upon us to get to the bone of possible causes behind the big move, and from our findings share some useful insights on the most compelling reasons that make Indian students want to pursue higher education abroad.

Ease Of Admission: Admission in India’s top ranked institutes is highly competitive given that lakhs of students pass out high school every year and seats available for admission are quite limited. IIMs(Indian Institute of Management), IITs(Indian Institute of Technology), and AIIMS(All India Institute of Medical Sciences) are amongst India’s dream schools that lakhs of students contest to get admission in. The rat race to secure admission gets much more intense depending on the level of study and discipline. On top of it students have to deal with the stress of acing entrance exams for certain disciplines for e.g. Joint Entrance Exams (JEE mains) for engineering colleges and National Eligibility and Entrance Test(NEET) for medical colleges. A study reveals that on an average a student has lower than one in a 50% chance at securing admission in a highly reputed Indian Institute of Technology.

High cut-offs cause even the brightest students to give up on their hope to secure admission in course of their choice at a college of their preference. And as a result students with no guaranteed admission have to think through the final option of studying abroad. Eventually students with a strong academic standing and enough budget choose to further their higher education abroad at a university of high repute. Since undergraduate admission at a highly-ranked foreign school is perceived to be comparatively easier, an increasing number of students from India are choosing to take the big leap.

According to a research, growth rate of 17.8% was recorded last year in the number of Indian students travelling to foreign destinations for studies. And this growth is only expected to increase over the years.

 Indian Student Mobility SchoolApply

Source: World Education News + Reviews

More Options of Study: An often raised concern about the Indian education system is that its academic institutes focus only on delivering popular STEM(Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) courses. It is evident from the lack of professional institutes since a niche segment of students who wish to take the road less-traveled still look to advance their higher studies abroad. Just because their desired programme is not widely available in the country! Even if the course is available, they fall short of expertise and accreditation to shape talented students for a better career path.

On the other hand, there is a rich variety of courses available to international students in countries like the US, UK, and Canada. Schools in these countries offer courses in some of the most contemporary and unconventional fields like entertainment, sports, psychology and many more in greater scope and structure. For e.g. a student who wants to study filmmaking in India has fewer film academies or schools to choose from and may end up with just a diploma. Whereas the same student can pursue a fully accredited bachelor’s degree and study filmmaking in greater depth if the course is pursued abroad.

Quality of Education: Even though the standard of courses available across colleges in India is developing, there still seems to be lack in practical application of skills learnt from conceptual understanding. And because of this lakhs of students in India struggle to get job placements after graduation. The Root cause of this problem circles back to the education systems emphasis on rote learning to remember concepts rather than understanding them. Classroom experience is only limited to lecture-driven classes with little to no active class participation.  And over time remaining present to maintain a good attendance record becomes top concern with little or no interest in learning that eventually results in poor grades.

In contrast, schools abroad engage students in active learning through class participation, dialogue exchange, case studies, and practical off and on campus experiences that makes learning fun and meaningful. In addition, flexibility to tailor course as per students interest and freedom to work on part-time basis while studying adds to the overall appeal of earning a degree abroad. US universities allow international students to work on campus, and off-campus as well provided the student has completed at least one year of the entire programme duration. There’s no doubt why more and more students are making an informed decision of studying abroad because the benefits are too tempting to resist!

Immigration Policies of Popular Destinations For Indian Students

Country Cost National Marketing Strategy Path to Immigration Work Permits
US Button Flag Icon Highest No No

On-campus work for upto 20 hrs/week: 12 month total curricular practical training(CPT) during study

Post-study: 12 months optional practical training(OPT); STEM majors can extend the period to 36 months

Canada Button Flag Icon High


Int’l Education Strategy


Extra points for immigration applicants with Canadian credentials

Work Permit not required: during study for upto 20 hrs/week

Post-Study work-permit: for upto 3 years

UK Button Flag Icon High


Int’l Education: Global Growth Prosperity


20 hrs/week: if you are in a degree programme or above at a higher education institution

Post-study work permit: cancelled in April, 2012

Doctorate graduates: get one year extension

Australia Button Flag Icon Moderate


National Strategy for International Education 2025


Extra points for immigration applicants with Australian credentials

20 hrs/week during the study; unlimited hours during breaks

Graduates with a minimum of 2 years in Australia can get a post-study work visa for 2 years

New Zealand Button Flag Icon Moderate


Draft Int’l Education Strategy for New Zealand to 2025


Extra points for immigration applicants with New Zealand credentials

20 hrs/week: during study

Post-study: 12 months permit

Germany Button Flag Icon Low


Strategy DAAD 2020


90 days/year: on student visa

18-month visa: extension post-study

Source: World Education News + Reviews

Step Towards Emigration: Emigration is one of the top most reason why Indian students especially at the graduate level look to pursue a degree abroad. Countries like the US, and Canada offer attractive job prospects post graduation and their flexible immigration policies allow students to seek employment on completion of studies. US National Science Foundation’s Survey reveals that about 80% of students from India and other Asian countries choose to remain in America after completing their graduate and doctoral studies. In Canada obtaining permanent residence becomes easier once job is secured, and it serves as a gateway to higher salaries leading to better lifestyle and facilities. According to Indian Student Mobility Report, the number of Indian students enrolled at Canadian schools increased more than 6 times from about 7,456 students in 2005 to over 48,500 students in the year 2015.

Better Research Opportunities: Students pursuing subjects especially in research-centric areas like biology or pharmacy do not receive enough support from Indian colleges in terms of infrastructure and resources. Whereas colleges in America, Canada, and Britain are abundant with resources to provide students with sophisticated technologies, equipment, and infrastructure to conduct in-depth research. Indian students also particularly choose to do research courses abroad because of favourable climatic conditions, habitat, and in some cases flora and fauna exclusively found in those specific locations.

Studying abroad can be your chance to stay ahead of the rest so get in touch with us to get help with your application.

About the Author: Mustafa Sutarwala is an all-round creative marketing graduate from Amity University Dubai, and is currently working in Dubai. He's inclined to digital marketing communications and works as the Creative Ninja for SchoolApply.