What are the study abroad enrollment trends of Indian students?

Four year enrollment trends of leading destinations indicate a stagnancy or decline, except with Canada. What explains this trend? What are the future enrollment trends expected for 2013?

Note: above data includes all levels of enrollment. For example, VET level enrollment in Australia and OPT in the US.

The post-recession scenario hit the mobility of Indian students quite hard and uncovered two primary segment of students–immigration-driven and career-driven. Each destination has a mix of these two segments. It ranged from majority career-driven Indian students going to the US at master’s degree level, to majority of immigration-driven students going to Australia and enrolling at vocational and technical colleges.

Due to recession, the US as a destination lost some of its attractiveness due to a lesser availability of financial assistance from universities and poorer prospects of finding jobs after completion of education. This is the time when one-year master’s programs in the UK became quite attractive for Indian students who were ready to pay for shorter duration master’s programs and a higher potential for immigration as compared to the US. At the same time, Australia hit its peak with Indian students in 2009, with a large wave of Indian students using education as a pathway for immigration through vocational program.

This large wave of Indian students with immigration intentions also unearthed several cases of visa abuses and prompting both Australian and British government to tighten regulations. As a result, the enrollment of Indian students in the UK and Australia plummeted, however, Canada became a beneficiary because of its immigration friendly policies and attracted larger number of Indian students with immigration-intentions.

In 2013, I expect to see slight recovery for the US due to demand side factor of larger pool of students willing and able to pay for their education and at the same time increasing optimism about the US economy will increase the application pipeline for fall’2013 enrollment. The UK is facing high negative perception among Indian students and is unlikely to start recovering until next year. At the same time, Canada may face some challenges similar to what Australia faced a couple of years back. In 2013, I expect Australia to start recovering from its bottom primarily due to negative perceptions in the UK and reversal of some immigration policies including new post study work visa arrangements.

Any other thoughts/explanations? What could be near term trends of mobility of Indian students?

Dr. Rahul Choudaha
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