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Not in top-15 colleges in US? Indian students turn to UK and Canada

Applicants are either applying to the top varsities in the US or increasingly looking at safer destinations in terms of permanent residency as well as placement opportunities

Vinay Umarji  |  Ahmedabad 

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As the overseas education application season in India heats up, American B-schools which are not among top 15, such as UT Austin, and Indiana and Georgetown, are feeling the pinch, with reduced number of applicants.

On the other hand, buoyed by the United Kingdom’s (UK’s) recent policy change allowing international students two years of post-study work visa, industry watchers are finding Indian candidates either applying for the top-15 US campuses or preferring Canada and the UK as “backups”, given the easier visa regulations and healthier placement scenario.

The UK’s move comes at a time when overseas applications, especially from India, gain momentum in September for the fall admission season, with January being the other window for applications. Overseas education consultants in India believe while there would be a marginal shift towards the UK from the US, and Australia, among applicants in September this year, the second spell in January would see a larger shift in 2020.

At nearly 200,000, while the US still holds the top position as far as Indian overseas applicants are concerned, other destinations, such as Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and other European countries, are sounding to be a safer bet.

Applicants are either applying to the top varsities in the US or increasingly looking at safer destinations in terms of permanent residency as well as placement opportunities.

“The UK is known for reliable education and its one-year masters programme is as good as any two years’ programmes at other competing destinations. So far, in the absence of post study work visa, applications to the UK were declining.

However, we have seen a lot of interest among applicants at our offices. On the other hand, those looking at permanent residency via studies are continuing to apply for Canada as these norms get more stringent for the US,” said Rohit Sethi, director, ESS Global, an overseas education consulting firm.

While there are lack of official figures, consultants peg share of US at 35 per cent in terms of Indian applicants, followed by Canada at 25 per cent, Australia at 20 per cent, and the UK at 5 per cent, with the rest being spread across New Zealand and other European destinations.

However, with the UK easing up post-study work visa norms and Australia becoming stricter, there is a 10-15 per cent shift anticipated from the latter to the former by January 2020.

As such, the US has been witnessing a steady decline.

According to an Open Doors International Education Report for 2018, growth in Indian students going to the US had slowed down from a 12 per cent growth in 2016-17 over the previous year to five per cent in 2017-18 over the previous year, with 196,000 students going to US for studies. This, says Prashant Tibrewal of Admit Square, is being complemented by Canada becoming a preferred “backup”.

“Given its easy visa regulations, Canada is also at times the first choice for several candidates. Studying in one of the top schools like Rotman, Ivey or Schulich almost assures one of good career prospects and presents good return on investment,” adds Tibrewal.

Another prominent overseas education service provider, CrackVerbal has, in fact, seen a 20-30 per cent drop in applications for the US from Indian candidates, CEO and Founder Arun Jagannathan told Business Standard.

Meanwhile, feeling this pinch, the non-top 15 US B-Schools and varsities are looking to counter the dip in international applications by either rolling out higher scholarships, newer programmes, less demanding applications or lower number of recommendations.

For instance, in a first-ever move by any top business school, NYU Stern is looking to be open to the Executive Assessment (EA) instead of the GMAT or GRE for their full-time MBA programmes, wherein EA is a shorter variation of the test introduced by GMAC in 2016. Shifting preferences

  • 20-30%: Dip in applicants to the US, according to the overseas education consultants
  • 10-15%: Shift from Australia, other destinations to the UK
  • From 12% in 2016-17, growth in Indian students to the US down to 5% in 2017-18
  • UK's post-study work visa could attract more applications now

First Published: Thu, September 19 2019. 22:59 IST