Posted on Monday, July 9, 2018
Recently, the UK Government excluded India from the group of countries which are in the ‘low risk’ category. It could mean that Indian students may find it harder to get a visa. This admissions cycle, one of our MBA students were advised by an Australian Business School interviewer not to consider coming to the university as employment opportunities in the city for international students were somewhat limited.
The United States, the most popular destination for Indian students, also has similar restrictions. With the H-1B visa being a lottery, there is little certainty in being able to work in the US beyond the 12 months (or 29 months for STEM students) of Optional Practical Training. The lottery is merit agnostic. In fact, last year was the first time in a decade that data released by The Institute of International Education showed a decline in the number of new international students coming to the US.
As a study abroad consultant for the last 24 years, with a strong focus on assisting students seeking a US education, I am not surprised. Employers are also wary of hiring and training international students with the knowledge that they may not be able to retain the talent even if they wanted to. And if the proposal which demands that the international students can only work if they make a certain salary becomes law, international students would find it harder to stay on and gain some professional experience.
It is hence no surprise that Canada has emerged as the new dream destination for discerning Indian students. Most top Canadian universities offer a world-class education, experiential learning (in the form of the co-op programs) and a welcoming campus.
It may be time to look at a study abroad for what it is – the process of seeking an education which leads to a broadening of intellectual perspectives. If that remains the focus, Indian students will benefit from studying abroad – the emphasis on holistic development, a firm grounding in life skills and lest I miss saying so, an enjoyable educational experience! For long, we have been known for our focus on seeking a degree which is marketable and marks have been the focal point (or bane) of an Indian student’s existence. Learning for fun has been an alien concept for most of our children.
Yes, education abroad is generally expensive for Indians but often it brings the necessary development and broadening of mind education is supposed to. There are a variety of colleges and universities in the US which allow students to defray the costs of exceptional educational experience with scholarships and financial aid. Be ready to look beyond the Ivies. One needs to have clarity regarding the purpose one in heading abroad. If it is an investment that must bring an equivalent return in monetary terms, study abroad may not work for the majority. However, for one who is seeking education to learn more about the world and grow as an individual; it may be a good idea. An educational experience which results in kindling a love for learning and teaching our next generation life skills which would stand them in good stead, it probably is worth the expense.
(The author is founder and CEO of International Educational Exchange)
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