- With 1.3 million students, the U.S. attracted the most Indians abroad last year. Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, and the United Kingdom (with 465,000 students) came in second and third.
- Diverse student populations and world-renowned universities are two of the reasons Indian students choose the U.S. as a higher education destination.
- For Indians seeking better education and opportunities for citizenship, the U.S. remains a top choice. In the academic year 2021-2022, there was a 19% surge in Indian students choosing U.S. universities.
- With careful planning, Indian students can effectively address challenges in the U.S. It’s essential to have precise documentation, the right visas, and suitable health insurance. Understanding the U.S. education system, managing finances, securing accommodation, and adhering to workplace regulations can enhance the academic journey.
Data from the Indian Education Ministry shared with the Rajya Sabha reveals that around 1.3 million Indian students were enrolled in foreign higher education institutions during the previous academic year, with the U.S. hosting the highest number of students, totaling around 465,000. In response to a legislative inquiry, Subhas Sarkar, the minister of state for education, shared information gathered from the Ministry of External Affairs. While acknowledging the Education Ministry’s lack of information about fees incurred by Indian students pursuing higher education abroad, Sarkar noted that, according to the MEA, 1.3 million Indian students were studying abroad across different courses in 2022.
Statistics show that Indian students often choose to study abroad, making the U.S. their most favored destination, ahead of Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Australia, and the United Kingdom. Earlier this year, ShareAmerica reported that Indian students, benefiting from English language proficiency and a sizable community of 4.5 million, chose the U.S. for its diverse student population and prestigious universities, with 16 of the world’s top 25 universities located there according to the 2023 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.
In response to inquiries about the government’s approach to meeting students’ educational needs within the country, Sarkar highlighted initiatives like GIFT City in Gujarat, which allows top-tier foreign universities to offer courses across various fields without domestic constraints.
To promote partnerships between Indian and foreign schools for programs like twinning, joint, and dual degrees, the University Grants Commission (UGC), India’s higher education regulatory body, introduced new regulations in 2022. Building on a 2017 initiative, this move aims to provide colleges with top-notch facilities while also attracting non-resident Indian students for educational and research opportunities.
U.S. An Attractive Study Destination for Indian Students
In July 2023, The Indian Express reported that out of the 163,370 Indians renouncing their citizenship in 2021, a significant 78,284 chose the U.S., despite challenges like green card backlogs and limited H-1B visas. Furthermore, a large number of Indian students—21% of the over one million international students in India—choose U.S. universities. Additionally, there was a 19% surge in Indian students selecting U.S. universities during the 2021-2022 academic year, a shift attributed to the presence of approximately 4,000 universities across the country.
Unlike the U.S., where graduates can earn money and have access to a wide range of employment opportunities, India offers many postgraduate opportunities. Around 75% of non-US citizens participating in the H-1B visa program are from India, partly because Indian-American households in the U.S. earn twice as much as the average American household. The U.S. has promised to relax H-1B visa restrictions for qualified Indians following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit to the country.
Dealing with Challenges
Having a thorough understanding of the structure and credit prerequisites of the American education system is an additional critical factor. It’s crucial to take care of one’s money through scholarships and financial aid, as well as appropriate health insurance through either group plans or outside choices. Students seeking housing can opt for off-campus rentals or on-campus dorms, both of which provide communal spaces and welcoming environments. While F-1 visa holders can work on campus in limited capacities, off-campus employment requires proper authorization. Indian students can start a meaningful academic journey in the US and take advantage of the many opportunities this country has to offer with dedication and careful planning.
With a significant 1.3 million Indian students studying abroad in 2022, according to a recent report, the U.S. remained a top choice for them. A 19% increase in these students choosing the United States for higher education during the 2021-2022 academic year further demonstrates this strong trend. It is still crucial for Indian students to carefully plan their endeavors if they want to have a fruitful academic journey in the United States. This entails acquiring the required paperwork, obtaining the proper visas, and ensuring complete health insurance coverage.
Furthermore, in this vibrant and diverse environment, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the American educational system, managing money effectively, finding appropriate housing, and abiding by regulations would improve the academic experience and prospects for Indian students. (SUNEETHA QURESHI)
Suneetha has worked for 15 years in the international education sector and 25 years overall for her work for other industries. As president of MSM, she fortifies its business development outreach globally, particularly in the face of MSM’s foray into edtech-based recruitment via MSM Unify. She preserves the premium, value-adding services provided to each MSM partner institute, including dedicated teams on the ground, agent management, lead generation and inquiry management, application prescreening, and student and parent support through pioneering pre-departure briefing sessions.
She has an impeccable track record of successfully launching the representative offices in Asia and Africa of many North American and European higher education institutions. Her key strengths include hiring, training, and developing teams as evidenced by the successful results of the dedicated in-country college and university client teams.
Suneetha also has taken the lead in developing several initiatives at MSM, including building robust standard operating procedures, the Rise ‘n Shine team engagement platform, and the organization’s data analytics and audit segments.
- Hartman, L. (2023, February 6). U.S. welcomes Indian students in record numbers. ShareAmerica. Retrieved from https://share.america.gov/u-s-welcomes-indian-students-in-record-numbers/
- Shrangi, V. (2023, August 2). Foreign education: 1.3 million Indian students chose to study abroad in 2022, highest went to US. News18. Retrieved from https://www.news18.com/education-career/foreign-education-1-3-million-indian-students-went-to-study-abroad-in-2022-highest-went-to-canada-8490049.html
- US remains top destination for Indians who renounce citizenship. (2023, July 27). The New Indian Express. Retrieved from https://www.newindianexpress.com/xplore/2023/jul/27/us-remains-top-destination-forindians-who-renounce-citizenship-2599069.html