Rupee and local provision squeeze Indian mobility

09 December, 2013

The UK is the most popular higher education destination for Indian students, but the increasing quality of domestic provision and the depreciation of the rupee are impacting on outbound mobility, according to a survey of over 10,000 students by the British Council.

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The report, Inside India, A new status quo, interviewed 10,389 Indian students about future tertiary study aspirations in an attempt to provide intelligence on a vast market that it says is little understood and has not followed the same growth trajectory of China.

The UK was selected as the most popular destination by 21 per cent of respondents, followed by the USA (19 per cent), India (14), Australia (10) and Canada (five). Germany was also cited as an increasingly attractive option.

Engineering was the most common intended course of study at 17 per cent, followed by computer science (15), business and administrative studies (15) and law (6).

When students were asked to select three answers from a list of 14 determining factors in study destination choice, quality of education was the most common at 61 per cent, followed by scholarship opportunities (43), cost of studying & living (42), the option to work after completing studies (23) and opportunities to work while studying (23).

Meanwhile, respondents selected high cost as the greatest deterrent at 65 per cent, followed by lack of scholarship availability (45), difficulty in getting a visa (44) and not having the option to work (34).

The impact of the depreciation of the rupee was examined in the report, which has added around US$10,000 per year to the cost of study abroad in Australia, the USA and the UK.
“The depreciation of the rupee and subsequent reduced spending power of Indian households has profoundly affected the size of the Indian outbound market, potentially to only 0.4 per cent of the total number of households, and will continue to do so as the currency continues to be valued at its current rate,” states the conclusion of the report.

The report notes that the Indian government is pursuing a policy of increasing the scale and quality of the domestic education system in order to keep pace with the expanding population. Since the beginning of the century, the numbers of colleges and universities in India has more than doubled to 35,000 and 700 respectively, while the number of Indian students enrolled in higher education has grown from 8.6 million in 2000/01 to 26.6 million in 2011/12.

The latest data from the Ministry of Human Resource Development for 2010/11 domestic enrolment was used to show significant growth subject areas at postgraduate level: education /teacher training (+451 per cent), technical (+165 per cent) and management (+159 per cent).

Elizabeth Shepherd, the British Council Education Intelligence Research Manager and author of the report, said there will continue to be demand for study abroad among households that can afford it. “However, this segment has decreased and may continue to do so, contrary to popular views of the boundless untapped potential in India for international students. The focus of the Indian government on improving the volume and quality of higher education has positioned India’s own institutions as fierce competitors for domestic students on an unprecedented scale,” she said.

Agents were nominated as one of the most important sources of information about study abroad, cited by 22 per cent, while 17 per cent of respondents based opinions on getting a visa from agents’ advice. The media was cited as very influential in informing opinions about study abroad destinations, with 46 per cent nominating this as the most important information source.

The full report is available for purchase from the British Council.

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