While India has created a strong presence as a leading international sending market in recent years, the country is further going to cement its place as a leading source of outgoing tertiary-education-bound students.
Data from India’s Ministry of External Affairs show that with over 500,000 students enrolled in top destinations such as the United States, Canada, and Australia, India has the second‐largest group of outgoing international students.
Comparing it to the scenario two decades ago, Indian students comprised only 3 percent of all international students globally. This grew to 7 percent in 2020, as per UNESCO.
According to recent data from the Institute of International Education, which follows global mobility trends of international students, while student enrollments from India to Australia between 2015 and 2020 increased by a massive 244 percent or 64,485; enrollments to Canadian institutions also increased greatly by 431 percent or 161,351 in the same period.
The United Kingdom and the United States also saw a growth of 33 percent or 6,917 enrollments and 45 percent or 60,236 enrollments respectively.
In the last five years, more Indian students joined Canadian higher education institutions and at a faster rate than the United States, meaning Canada has become a preferred country for tertiary education for Indians, even more popular than the United States.
Together with China, India’s big hold in the international student outflow is also evident from the fact that in 2020, the two countries comprised 53 percent of all foreign students in the United States, as per the Open Doors report.
Students from India and China also make up over 50 percent of foreign students in Australia and Canada, and more than 25 percent of students in the UK.
Even during the pandemic, the share of the outbound international students from Asia has been massive. More than 70 percent of postsecondary students from Asia enrolled in U.S. universities in the year 2019-20.
In a 2014 report, UNESCO estimated that by 2024, India will have the largest number of students going to college at more than 119 million. India will also have a strong share of outgoing mobility when it comes to postgraduate students in the next decade.
A recent industry report estimates that by 2024, India will send more than 1.8 million students overseas.
According to the Reserve Bank of India, Indian students travelling abroad spent $312.68 million until March 2020. This is also projected to go up in the next few years.
The growth in the numbers overall is due to many factors even after COVID-19. One of the main reasons is that universities are giving international students various options such as in‐person study when classes resume, online enrollment, delayed admissions to upcoming semesters, and admissions at international branch campuses wherever possible and feasible for both institutions and students.
Improved safety measures, immigration policies, and vaccine rollouts have given a fillip to plans of Indian and international students willing to travel overseas to join universities. As per the International Student Survey by QS, of the 11,574 prospective current and international students from 183 countries, as many as 21 percent were optimistic about travel to their destination country because of the availability of vaccines.
Students also expressed that the United States, United Kingdom, New Zealand, and India were among the top countries that have efficiently managed the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines to their populations.
With countries slowly opening borders and easing travel curbs, Indian students are now eager to get the desired experience of studying on a foreign campus and the in-country exposure that comes with it.