Even Chinese students can’t beat Indians at squeezing out the most from a US education

(From Quartz/India)

The number of Indian students enrolled for higher education in the US has surged by 71% in just two years.

Indian students at Columbia University graduation ceremonies

Indian students at Columbia University graduation ceremonies in New York

In January 2014, there were 105,426 Indians studying in that country, according to data released by the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) established under the US department of homeland security. This figure rose to 181,051 by November 2015.

Indian students in the US are value-seekers who try to minimise their cost of education, and maximise the potential for job and career advancement opportunities. Here are three broad factors that influence their decision-making processes and priorities:

1. Lower cost of education with master’s programmes

In 2015, 77% or nearly three out of four Indian students in the US were enrolled for master’s programmes, according to SEVIS. Compare that to the 30% figure for Chinese students. Indians are also less likely (only 10%) to enroll in the more expensive four-year bachelor’s degrees, compared to the Chinese (36%).

The average cost of a year’s tuition fees for international students may range between $23,800 (Rs16 lakh) at public colleges and universities to $32,400 at private institutions. Typically, American master’s programmes are of two years’ duration. However, one-year programmes providing low-cost pathways to the US are now on the rise. The demand for American master’s programmes is evident from the more than 210,000 applications received from Indian students in 2015.

Most Indian students fund their education through bank loans, while the Chinese use family and private resources. After a few years of decline in the rupee, students have now adjusted themselves to the new costs.

Besides, given the economic optimism in both the US and India, they are now more confident about the job prospects after studying abroad. Read more


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