THE NUMBER of Indians flocking to the United States for education has increased by around 25 percent this year, according to a report published by the Institute of International Education.
One out of every six international students in the US is an Indian, said the Open Doors report published in partnership with the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.
This comes at a time when anti-immigrant sentiments are strong in the US.
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While 2015-16 marked the third consecutive year of an upward trend in enrolment after a three-year slump, at 24.9 percent this year’s increase was milder than last year’s record rise of 29.4 percent.
A total of 165,918 Indians enrolled for different courses in the academic year 2015-16. Of these, 61.4 percent were pursuing graduate studies and 11.6 percent went for undergraduate courses.
Around 25 percent were pursuing Optional Practical Training, an extended period of a year when graduates can work in the US on a student visa.
This is the first time the number of international students at US colleges and universities surpassed one million — an increase of 7 percent from the previous year. Indians formed the second largest student population in the US after China— 328,547 (31.5 percent) of the entire international student population there is Chinese.
Even as the number of US students coming to India dropped by 3.2 percent, the US remained a favourite destination among Indian students. Last year Indian students in US colleges and universities contributed $5.01 billion to the
“A considerable number of students going to the US are from families that have spent some time in the US. Wards of professionals who have worked in the US for a few years have been exposed to international standards and they want to study in colleges at par with those standards,” said Kris Lakshmikanth, CEO and MD of Headhunters, a Human Resource Consultancy Firm.
He said that such professionals, upon returning to India, enrol their children in schools with international curriculums. “The growing number of private high schools with international curriculums are preparing students to pursue undergraduate degrees abroad, specifically in the US,” said Ryan Pereira, Mumbai Regional Officer, United States-India Educational Foundation (USIEF).
Pereira said that the stabilisation of the rupee and families learning to adjust and prepare their finances well in advance has also encouraged students to study abroad.”The increase to the US has been at the expense of the UK, and other countries – the US is viewed as the more friendly country to international students, with policies designed to attract and provide opportunities for education as well as practical work,” he added.
Mumbai’s Consular Chief Michael Evans encouraged aspirants to do in-depth research before finding the right institute to apply to. “With over 4,500 accredited higher education institutions in the United States, ranging from community colleges to PhD programs, there will always be room for you,” said Evans.
The same views were echoed by Consul General Thomas Vajda.
However, the fear of anti-immigrant policies has left many aspirants worried about applying to the US.
Pranitha Reddy from Hyderabad, who is applying for a Masters degree in Economics said: “After the elections, I have started exploring colleges in the European nations as I am a little scared. However, I haven’t entirely ruled out the US.”