A Look at Why Over 650,000 Indian Students Have Recently Gone Abroad on Student Visas, A 5-Year High

Key Takeaways:


  • Over 650,000 Indian students have traveled abroad on student visas up to November 30, 2022, despite the challenges in international travel since the pandemic.
  • Indians have become the largest group of international students studying in the United Kingdom, taking over the Chinese with a tremendous 273% increase in visas granted over the past few years.
  • Only travel on student visas and those traveling on visiting visas have reached their pre-pandemic level or gone beyond the pre-pandemic numbers.

International travel may have only begun to bounce back from a fall as a result of the pandemic two years ago, but almost the entire 2022 has seen a record number of students, particularly Indian students, going abroad on study visas.  What seems to be encouraging more and more Indian nationals to travel despite the still-recovering-from-pandemic international travel? Let’s figure it out.


The Hindu reported that according to statistics from the Bureau of Immigration, as many as 650,000 students have traveled overseas up to November 30, 2022, on student visas, a record high compared with the student movement numbers in the last five years. The data gathered by the BoI, the agency that collects data on Indians traveling abroad based either on their verbal disclosure or the visa type of the destination country produced by them during the immigration clearance, reveals that international travel by Indians which includes those for business, pilgrimage, employment, residence-re-entry, and tourism purposes among others, has not completely recovered or bounced back to pre-pandemic levels.


Only travel on student visas and those traveling on visiting visas have reached their pre-pandemic level or exceeded the pre-pandemic numbers.


Indian Students on Foreign Visas


In previous years, international travel has been greatly affected by the pandemic. Whether from the tourism or employment point of view, everything has been adversely affected. It’s surprising to know, though, that this past year, according to the Hindustan News Hub, a record number of Indian students have gone abroad with visas amidst the travel restrictions resulting from the global health crisis.


As mentioned, until November 30 this year, BoI data shows that nearly 650,000 Indian students have traveled overseas on student visas. BoI also revealed that a record number of Indians traveled internationally in 2019, including more than 252,000 Indians who traveled to different countries for different purposes. 


Records also showed that international travel for employment rose in West Asian nations. According to statistics, over 600,000 Indians went to Canada in 2019, and during the first 11 months of this year, the number reached about 660,000.


Similarly, in end-November 2022, more than 754,000 Indians traveled to Britain while in 2019, the number was 745,000.


Indian Students Overseas


In UK’s recently released official immigration statistics, it shows that Indians have turned the largest group of international students enrolled in the country, taking over the Chinese with a huge increase of 273% in visas granted over the past couple of years.


Aside from that, according to the data gathered by the Office for National Statistics, Indians continue to top the nationality as well, that granted visas in the skilled worker classification.


This same report specified that more than 600,000 Indians traveled overseas for higher education until November 2022, compared with over 440,000 in 2021.




Most Indian students get attracted to cost-oriented yet renowned universities overseas, particularly Australian universities that are consistently ranked among the top 100 universities globally.


These education institutes possess outstanding higher education systems structured and focused on application-based learning.


To date, there are over 40 outstanding universities in this country that are included in the list of QS World Rankings. The outstanding reputation of the educational system in other countries like Australia, for one, can open international career opportunities for Indian students, and this is what’s making most of them decide to study abroad. (SUNEETHA QURESHI)


MSM President

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.




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