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

May 29, 2011

NAFSA International Educators Conference 2011

NAFSA: Association of International Educators Annual Conference is taking place in Vancouver from May 29-June 3rd. Nearly 8,000 international education professionals around the world are expected to participate.  Mr. Anand Sudarshan of Manipal Education is the International Plenary speaker at the conference. It is a major recognition of the work undertaken by Mr. Sudarshan and the Manipal group.   

I will be co-presenting two sessions at the NAFSA conference:


The co-presenters are: Pamela Barrett, i-graduate and Dan Chatham, Keck Graduate Institute of Applied Life Sciences


The co-presenters are: Shannon Bishop Harrison - Institute of International Education, Nicole Ranganath - University of California-Davis and Joti Sekhon - Winston-Salem State University.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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May 25, 2011

Indian Higher Education Statistics

Latest official data on students and colleges in India indicates a healthy growth in terms of institutional capacity, according to UGC. Between 2004 and 2009, number of colleges increased by nearly 9,000 and student enrollment increased by 3.65 million students.


However, this healthy growth in numbers has its share of paradoxes and problems. It becomes obvious that in comparison with other growth indicators like GDP or number of cars, higher education has seriously lagged behind. Yet, there are signs of overcapacity and disillusion.


  • The rate of growth of teachers (faculty) was slower than the number of universities and colleges. This has created a shortage of qualified faculty in higher education institutions.
  • Number of students have grown at a slower pace as compared to the number of universities and colleges. This has resulted in oversupply of seats and many of which remain vacant.
  • Number of colleges have grown at a rate slower than the growth of GDP resulting in talent shortage and continued demand for talented and skilled workforce.
Does that mean India needs many more colleges to meet the growth rate of the economy? Yes. But, then why are seats remaining vacant. The answer lies in what is not captured by these statistics of growth and that is quality and employability. Students and families are increasingly seeking education which may improve their prospects of employability and upward mobility. Institutions and policy-makers need to listen to the qualitative dimension of the demand and adapt to it to remain relevant and competitive. 

Dr. Rahul Choudaha

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May 15, 2011

Pathways to Gain Global Talent

In my previous posting, I argued that there is a slow and emerging trend of global Indians moving back to India, however, after excluding the people who had to move back involuntarily due to lack of jobs or visas, the numbers of Indians moving voluntarily is too small to qualify as a major shift.


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May 08, 2011

Overrating Return of US-educated Indians

Some recent reports have stated that foreign students educated in the US and Indian professionals are returing to their India in a large number. Anecdotal evidence supports this slow trend of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) moving to India however, it has a major flaw--confounding intentions with action and compulsion with choice.

Many Indians intend to go back, given the connections with the country and family and hopes of leveraging the dollar savings, social prestige and professional advancement. However, very few are actually able to act on that intentions, due to the comfort of existing life style, children and hope of Green-card.

A recent research entitled "Will They Return?" highlighted the issue of lack of faculty in Indian higher education and recommended recruiting Indian students abroad for faculty roles. The article based on the research notes that "Indians living in the U.S. are willing to come back to their home country....[and] found that only 8% strongly preferred to remain in the U.S." However, according to the detailed research paper cited in the Wharton article, nearly 70% of the respondents are indicated as undecided/U.S. first. This means that many more intend to work in the U.S. for some time and within this undecided group most do not go back. The evidence that intention does not mean action is validated from another research on stay rates of doctorates by Michael Finn. It states that U.S. doctorates of Indian origin had a stay rate of 81% after five years of graduation. Clearly, the majority of Indian doctorates do not return.

Of the few students and professionals who are able to return back, majority had to return due to compulsion and not choice. Many were forced to go back due to recessionary effect and hence unavailability of work visa at one level and tightening of visa rules at another level. For example, according to an earlier report, "A good proportion of H1-B visa holders--about 50,000--had their visas issued in 2002 and 2003. Come 2009, most of these visas (which are work permits issued for a fixed period), with a validity of six years, expired. The number of H1-B visa holders who have applied for jobs in India is now said to be between 15,000 and 20,000." (Related story on unemployment.)

Yes, there is a slow and steady trend towards more Indians willing to go back to India as the quality of life and professional growth opportunities improve, however, some of the recent reports have overrated the trend, provided an incomplete picture and have confounded intentions with action and compulsion with choice.

What are your thoughts?

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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