Trends, insights and research to inform growth and innovation strategies in international higher education.

August 22, 2010

Indian students aspire for top US universities: Applications up; offers down

In my earlier postings, I argued that Indians will continue to go abroad for higher education and US will maintain its prominence. The recent report by the Council of Graduate Studies confirms the trend. According to this report, applications from India for fall 2010 are up by 1%. Many expected that the impact of recession and increasing choices both at home and abroad would decrease the outward mobility of Indian students. However, I believe that outward mobility will remain high for at least three reasons:
1. Indian higher education system has grown at a rate much faster than the capacity of the economy to absorb.
2. Quality of higher education at majority of the institutions is mediocre resulting in skills gap and unemployability.
3. Further education options at the graduate level in India are not very aspirational, except MBA.

  • More Indians are aiming for top-100 institutions:

Within the US, Indian students continue to aspire for top-100 institutions. This is an indicator of the "reputation" obsession by many prospective Indian students. For example, according to the CGS survey, applications from Indians increased by 12% for 10 largest institutions but fell by 8% for institutions outside 100 largest institutions, in terms of the graduate degrees awarded in academic year 2007-08. This perception issue poses challenges for institutions outside top-100 in attracting Indian talent, despite having excellent programs and fit with the student.

  • Acceptance of Indian students is slowing at the leading US institutions:

While Indian students continue to apply to the US universities, there seems to be slowing down of the acceptance by leading US institutions. This is evident from the decreasing rate of offers to Indian students as compared to the increasing rate of applications by Indians. For last three years, number of offers to Indian applicants had been decreasing. This includes admission to fall 2009 class when applications from India fell by 12% but offers fell even sharper by 14%.

Given that a large proportion of Indian applicants are competing for the same top-100 institutions, which already have large number of Indian students, the rate of acceptance had been decreasing at these institutions.  This is in contrast with admissions trends from China, which has seen double digit growth in applications and offers in last three years. This could also be a result of higher propensity of Indian applicants to rely on scholarships/assistantships as compared to Chinese applicants.

  • 3 out of 4 Indian students are enrolled in engineering/computer science or  business

Indian students are also very heavily concentrated in engineering or business fields. For example, 1 out of 2 Indian student is enrolled in engineering or computer science (NSF Report, 2010). This is in primarily driven by the expansion of engineering programs at undergraduate level in India and also it had been relatively easy to find work opportunity in the US IT services industry. With Business field added in mix, 3 out of 4 Indians are enrolled in Engineering/Computer Science and Business. This clearly indicates, the popularity of career-safe, professional programs among Indian students.

Recent trends, reaffirm that expansion and supply characteristics at undergraduate level in India will continue to fuel aspirations of Indian students to study abroad, especially the US. They will also continue to seek programs that support professional and career advancement.

Any thoughts/comments?

- Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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August 19, 2010

Guru Mantra: Surendra Kaushik, Helena Kaushik Women’s College

Dr. Surendra K. Kaushik
Founder and Chairman,
Mrs. Helena Kaushik Women's College

Professor, Pace University in New York
Blog: Kaushik College for Women
Blog: Surendra Kaushik's Blog

Dr. Surendra K. Kaushik founded the Mrs. Helena Kaushik Women’s College ( in India in 1999 which is affiliated with the University of Rajasthan. The college has grown on a 30-acre new campus with 760 graduates with a B.A. B. Sc, B. Sc in Biotechnology, B.Ed., M.A., and M.Sc. in Biotechnology from 2002 to 2010. He is producer of A College for Women documentary about the Mrs. Helena Kaushik Women’s P.G. College directed by Sanjay Singh which had its world premiere at the first Pravasi Film Festival and a special screening at the Press Club of India. Dr. Kaushik has been awarded the Aruna Asaf Ali Sadhbhavana Award of the Minorities League of India, Hind Rattan Award of the NRI Society of India, Shiromani Rashtriya Vikas Award of the Delhi Telugu Academy, The New York State Assembly Legislative Resolution in April 2009, Making a Difference Award of the Children’s Hope India in October 2009, and New Jersey General Assembly Resolution in May 2010. He is a member of the Mewar Shiromani Sabha, established by Shriji Arvind Singh Mewar of Udaipur, India since August 2009.
He received a Ph.D. in economics from Boston University in 1976 and has taught at  Pace University in New York since  1981 where he is a professor of finance,  Boston University, Northeastern University, Lowell Technological Institute and Babson College. 
Dr. Kaushik can be contacted at: and phones are: (914) 762-6168; (914) 602-2507 in the United States;   (01595) 276593 at the College and mobile 94 13 11 12 80 in India.

Rahul- What were the drivers of establishing Mrs. Helena Kaushik Women’s College? What makes the college different and value-adding?
Dr. Kaushik- At a personal level the key driver was giving back to the community. This is a universal value but it is practiced most in the United States where some ninety percent of people give back to society at the individual, family and corporate levels in addition to public programs financed by taxes. This is a value I imbibed outside of the classroom in my education in America. It also fits into the The Whole World is One Family (Vasudev Kutumkum) view in the very beginning of the oldest of the Indian Vedantic scriptures. Going beyond pure self-interest is what makes a community.

The second driver was the sheer necessity of higher education in rural areas of India especially for women who have much less access to higher education.

The third driver was that as difficult as it is and as neglected as it was by government for five decades since Independence in 1947, and before that by feudal rulers and moneyed societal leaders, it was important to demonstrate that it is important to focus on higher education for development and growth of the economy and society, and that can be done.

The College is different in that it is exclusively for women in a remote, desolate and poor area. It has given opportunity to young women from all social, economic and religious groups in the area and they all have taken full advantage of it. More than 750 have already graduated with B.A., B.Sc., B.Ed., M.A., and M.Sc. degrees and most are participating in the market place as teachers, government workers in various fields and family business and agricultural enterprises. The College also connects directly America and India at the grassroots and village level. Villages in India will grow economically with the skills of their people and women are half of the people. India cannot be a powerhouse economy unless it uses the intellectual power and participation of women in all aspects of private and public lives.

Rahul- What are some of the ways in which foreign and Indian organizations/individuals interested in women's education in rural India engage with the College?
Dr. Kaushik- Visits by professors to lecture and to conduct research, business and government leaders to lecture, study abroad visits by students, joint degree and non-degree professional courses by institutions, offering American courses and diplomas, establishment of scholarships, visiting and regular professorships, funding of labs, library, technology, and establishment of training programs and assistance in enterprise creation by the local community would be some of the ways foreign and Indian individuals and institutions can engage with the College. Some 100 people have already visited the College. We would most welcome this type of engagement by individuals, associations and institutions interested in giving opportunity to women of India through education and training.

Rahul- What are the strategic priorities for the institution and how do you see the college evolving in next 3-5 years?
Dr. Kaushik- At present we have a college of arts, science and business and a college of education. We would like to have a polytechnic, a health sciences college, an agricultural college, centers of environmental and women's studies, and a law college. We also have plans to become a university. We would like to have joint programs with foreign and Indian universities. Most importantly, we would like to scale the College to other areas of India by Internet and by physical presence as part of our vision that every district of India should have at least one women's college/university so that ultimately women and men have equal opportunity of education and training throughout India.

We have capacity for more than 2,500 students and residential capacity for 300 students. The College is open to women from all over India and abroad. It is very low cost compared with most colleges in India and it is safe as a self-contained enclave where young women can bond together, become life-long friends and focus on their studies and careers for a bright future for themselves, their families, India and the world.
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August 08, 2010

Five Policy Directions for Engaging Foreign Institutions in India

Published an article on policy directions for engaging foreign education providers in India in University World News. I have co-authored with Professor Alan Ruby of the University of Pennsylvania. See other articles by Prof. Ruby.

We recommend five policy domains to make sure all of the nation's interests are served by this important opening up of an over-regulated, under-resourced sector of the economy to foreign education providers. It will help create an ecosystem of institutions of all kinds and all forms of ownership: public and private, Indian and international, research and vocational, religious and secular, charitable and for-profit.

1. Foreign institutions must be seriously committed to India: Protect the local consumer (student) by ensuring that foreign institutions are seriously committed to India.

2. Students must have better information about options: The government should have students as the focus of the policy directions and there is a need to support students to make informed decisions about their higher education plans.

3. Not just MBA programmes in Mumbai or Delhi: The government should encourage diversity of location, programmes and institutional types.

4. Drop the ban on for-profit institutions: Quality is more likely to come from student choice, public accountability and transparency of outcomes than charitable status alone.

5. Professionalise higher education to foster quality: Create a cadre of faculty and administrators who systematically study and practise the profession of education to foster quality, productivity and innovation in the system.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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August 04, 2010

Guru Mantra: Prof. Nigel Thrift, University of Warwick

Professor Nigel Thrift
University of Warwick

Professor Nigel Thrift is a leading human geographer and social scientist, He is an Academician of the Academy of Learned Societies for the Social Sciences and was made a Fellow of the British Academy in 2003. His current research spans a broad range of interests, including international finance; cities and political life; non-representational theory; affective politics; and the history of time. He took up his role as the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Warwick in July 2006. He joined Warwick from the University of Oxford where he was made Head of the Division of Life and Environmental Sciences in 2003 before becoming Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research in 2005.

Rahul - In your recent article in the Chronicle you mentioned that there are very few significant institutional relationships and building relationships takes time and continuous effort. What are your top two recommendations for the Indian institutions who are seeking to build partnerships with UK universities? How should they prepare themselves for building successful partnerships?
Nigel - Building a significant international institutional relationship takes time and concerted effort. One should not expect instant results and one should not simply leap at the first opportunity that presents itself. Rather than seeking to sign a meaningless Memorandum of Understanding with the first, or every, prestigious overseas University that becomes of interest, Indian universities should seek a select group of partners with whom they can create a real and sustained programme of activities that last for all concerned.

Indian universities should also only seek partnerships that involve true reciprocity and real respect: being the subsidiary partner should never be good enough. Any exchanges of staff and students and research partnerships must be mutual and balanced.

Rahul - One of the key goals of the Warwick's Vision 2015 is to raise the international profile of the university. Please share your experiences and initiatives while pursuing these goals. What are your priorities in achieving the internationalization goals?
Nigel - One of the most important goals of a truly global university is that it should ensure that it maximises its potential to be a source of genuine hope in the contemporary world. Universities are arks containing the knowledge that can help us to get out of the problems we have created. As part of Warwick's Vision 2015 strategy we have created a series of “Warwick Commissions” designed to apply academic research to real world problems. I was particularly pleased with the success of the latest Warwick Commission on International Financial Reform, chaired by Professor Avinash Persaud, which actually launched its final report in India and received a significant degree of interest from policy makers and media across the globe.

I have also been pleased to see that the decision to take time to build up real partnerships with a select group of fellow international Universities is not only beginning to produce real benefits for us but is also producing clear benefits for our partners. Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) here at the University of Warwick has been key to forming a partnership with IIT Kharagpur in India. IIT Kharagpur have been able to draw on this partnership to help mentor the creation and development of a new IIT at Bhubaneshwar. WMG’s technology specialists have advised on IIT Bhubaneshwar’s multi-million pound plans to set up laboratories in materials and tomography and a dozen WMG research staff and allied industrialists will now visit India in November to continue to build the overall partnership with Kharagpur and Bhubaneshwar.

Rahul - In another Chronicle article you argue that "Internationalization is difficult." The failure of overseas campuses like MSU Dubai and George Mason at RAK, is making institutions rethink about the pace and approach of internationalization. What are the top two trends you foresee in terms of internationalization plans of universities in next five years?
Nigel - One is greater integration between universities in different countries. Global partnerships between universities could become so intertwined that they eventually become like global "holding companies”. Such close formal agreements would also allow the seamless exchange of students without the need to set up foreign campuses, and joint scientific projects would become easier to organize, permitting universities to share research that might otherwise have been less usefully held by single institutions.

The second is a greater degree of realism about the time scales involved in internationalization – about which institutions and organizations are possible to produce rapidly and which are not!
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August 03, 2010

The "good" for-profit higher education in India

I have published an article on the need of for-profit higher education in India.

I argue that policymakers need to enable for-profit higher education in India with a clear expectation of professionalism and transparency. This debate is important given that US for-profit higher education is facing increasing scrutiny and in contrast, UK has allowed a for-profit institution, BPP, to become the first new private independent university college since 1973. Of course, India does not need for-profit education for the sake of creating another business opportunity, but more importantly to bring transparency in the system, create access and diversity and eliminate the menace of pseudo not-for-profits. The context and needs of Indian higher education are different and makes an important case for the "good" for-profit institutions, which could live upto the principles of transparency and accountability.

Any thoughts/comments?

- Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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August 01, 2010

Guru Mantra: Allen Brandt, GMAC MET Fund

Allen Brandt
Director, the GMAC MET Fund

Allen is the director of the Management Education for Tomorrow Fund. The MET Fund is the industry reinvestment arm of the Graduate Management Admission Council, the international association of business schools and the owner of the GMAT exam. In his role as director, Allen oversees the MET Fund’s activities, which support the Council’s role in the discovery and identification of talent wherever it exists and in advancing business and management education around the world. In addition to traditional grants, the MET Fund’s newest project is the Ideas to Innovation (I2I) Challenge, which is soliciting ideas to improve graduate management education worldwide. Additional information about the GMAC MET Fund and the Challenge can be found at, and you can follow the Fund on Twitter at @GMACMETFund.

Rahul- GMAC has taken a proactive step in fostering innovation in graduate management education by establishing the Management Education for Tomorrow (MET) Fund. Please share more about the fund and the recently launched Ideas to Innovation (I2I) Challenge which will offer US$250,000 in prizes to drive innovation in management education.
Allen- GMAC wanted to seek solutions to improve graduate management education from those who most closely involved in it: faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Our challenges were to reach these and other interested audiences, and to ensure that worthy ideas could actually be brought to fruition. We recognized that those with the best ideas might not have the means to develop and implement them. We came up with the concept of the Ideas to Innovation Challenge (I2I), which enables us to separate the idea generation from the implementation. Between now and October 8, 2010, we are accepting ideas on how to improve graduate management education. Early next year, we will make public the top ideas and ask for proposals from schools and programs on how they would implement one of these ideas, with the MET Fund covering the costs.

Rahul- The I2I competition asks, "What one idea would improve graduate management education?" However, please share, from your perspectives, what one idea has most improved graduate management education in the last decade?
Allen- Over the past decade, one of the biggest changes in graduate management education has been the dramatic increase in the accessibility of schools and programs to students of diverse backgrounds worldwide. This access has already begun to create a corps of business leaders who will have a positive impact on innovation and economic development in long-established and emerging nations. Demographic changes, with a growing middle class in countries such as India and China, have contributed to an increasing student population, the expansion of existing schools and programs, and development of new ones. For many students in these countries, going abroad is no longer the only option to gain an excellent business education. Schools in their own regions have become more creative in adapting their curriculum to local needs or changing business and market needs, which has made the graduate management education option more attractive.

Rahul- The number of GMAT exams taken in India has tripled in five years, from 7,080 in TY2005 (July 1, 2004-June 30, 2005) to 21,781 in TY2009 (July 1, 2008-June 30, 2009). What were the drivers for this growth, and what are the challenges in sustaining it?
Allen- First, economic growth has resulted in a greater need for men and women with business expertise. It has fueled growth in industry and in entrepreneurship. Students recognize that graduate management education is the passport to career opportunities, locally and internationally. Population shifts and increased access to higher education have also favorably affected the demand for graduate education among Indian citizens. Over the past decade, the student-age population (ages 20-29) in India has increased by more than 20 million. This growth corresponded with national gains made in higher education participation rates, from under 10% in 2000 to over 13% in 2007, the most recent year of UNESCO data.

Indian students who intend to pursue graduate business education abroad continue to make up the majority of GMAT test takers. But more Indian students are now taking the GMAT to apply to programs within India as more business programs across India are using the GMAT exam in their admissions process. This trend is illustrated by our data. Since TY2005 (July 1, 2004-June 30, 2005), the number of GMAT score reports sent to schools in India from all examinees has increased from 5,064 to 22,458, a gain of over 300%. The GMAT exam remains the only worldwide exam developed by business schools, for business schools, and we expect its use by Indian students and schools to keep growing. GMAC is committed to being a strong presence in India and to supporting graduate management education in India. We expect to open an office in India in the near future.
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