Higher barriers for Indian students wanting to study abroad

2012 is turning dreams of many Indian students for studying abroad into nightmare.

Cost and challenges of affordability: Economic slowdown in India and currency depreciation has made foreign education more expensive. Karin Fischer of the Chronicle in her article Colleges Are Wary of Global Economy’s Effect on Foreign Enrollments highlighted these cost challenges for Indian students. I mentioned in the article that there are two distinct segments of students–affluent and aspiring. Affluent students are prestige-conscious while aspiring students are price-conscious. It is the aspiring segment which is struggling to find its way to study abroad.

Fraud and tighter visa policies: All major destination countries are becoming more vigilant about the fraud issues. In June, UK, Australia and Canada announced a joint-statement for curbing immigration fraud. The statement cautions students “Do not be misled by unscrupulous agents into believing that it is acceptable to submit forged documents with your visa application. The application will be refused and you face further investigation by the Indian authorities.” UK has already tightened its visa norms as they found from a pilot study that the UK could’ve rejected 59% of Indian student visas.

In the same month, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report DHS Needs to Assess Risks and Strengthen Oversight Functions which highlighted that “…during fiscal year 2011, CTCEU (Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit) analyzed 48 percent more leads on potential school and student visa fraud than in fiscal year 2010.” The report noted examples like Tri-Valley University where institution was involved in fraud.

This is a very vulnerable time for Indian students as they are in the “search stage” of identifying their best fit options and given the double whammy of affordability and visa policy challenges, number of Indian students going abroad may get seriously influenced for fall 2012 admissions cycle.

Dr. Rahul Choudaha