According to the QS World university rankings, 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% are below 25 years of age. Every year, thousands of students from India travel abroad to fulfill their dreams, something SchoolApply can also help you accomplish! We took it upon ourselves to to uncover the reasons behind the big move. We’re happy to share some useful insights into the most compelling reasons why Indian students want to pursue higher education abroad.


Ease Of Admission: Admission to India’s top-ranked institutes is highly competitive given that lakhs of students pass out of 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 among India’s dream schools. The rat race to secure admission gets much more intense depending on the level of study and discipline. On top of that, students have to deal with the stress of acing entrance exams for certain disciplines, for example the Joint Entrance Exams (JEE mains) for engineering colleges and National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) for medical colleges. A study revealed that on an average, a student has lower than one in a 50% chance at securing admission to a highly reputed Indian Institute of Technology.

High cut-offs cause even the brightest students to give up on their hope to secure admission to a course and college of their choice. 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 research, a growth rate of 17.8% was recorded in 2016 in the number of Indian students traveling to foreign destinations for their 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: A common 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 program is not widely available in the country! Even if the course is available, the schools lack 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 and psychology in greater scope and structure. For example, 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.

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Quality of Education: Even though the standard of courses available across colleges in India is developing, there still seems to be a lack of opportunities for practical application of skills learned through 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 system’s 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. Over time, going to class only to maintain a good attendance record becomes the top concern with little or no interest in learning, and this 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 make learning fun and meaningful. In addition, flexibility to tailor courses as per a student’s interest and the freedom to work on a 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 program duration. There’s no doubt why more and more students are making an informed decision to study abroad – 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 reasons 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 a job is secured, and it serves as a gateway to higher salaries leading to better lifestyle and facilities. According to the Indian Student Mobility Report, the number of Indian students enrolled at Canadian schools increased from about 7,456 students in 2005 to over 48,500 students in 2015.

Better Research Opportunities: Students pursuing subjects particularly 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 offer abundant resources to provide students with sophisticated technologies, equipment and infrastructure to conduct in-depth research. Indian students also particularly choose research courses abroad because of favorable 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 SchoolApply and we will guide you through the whole application process.


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.