The environment of tertiary education is evolving, as are students’ decisions on which degree to pursue. Because of the increased digitalisation produced by a competitive labour market, digital skills are in high demand among employers – a fact that international students have taken note of.
According to a recent Redseer poll, overseas-bound Indian students favor skills-based degrees, with 70% opting for specialised courses. Their degree choice correlates to current employment market demands for IT specialists such as software engineers and data scientists.
“In terms of opportunities, there is a high need for skill-based courses such as data analysis, AI, ML, and cybersecurity in foreign locations.” Although Indian colleges are offering these courses, the demand far outweighs the supply, according to Priyanka Nishar, founder, and vice-chairperson of Mumbai-based Azent Overseas Education.
A report released by Coursera Skill Report 2022 reinforces this trend: foundational courses concentrating on digital skills on the massive open online course (MOOC) provider are popular among Indian adolescents, as many believe it would help them acquire a job.
“In terms of opportunities, there is a demand for skill-based courses such as data analysis, AI, ML, and cyber security at international locations, and this demand is here to stay for the next two decades,” Shubham Gupta, a Delhi-based student hoping to study Information Technology at the University of Queensland, was quoted as saying by The Indian Express.
“As a result, after evaluating all relevant aspects, I selected to study IT rather than any other generic topic.” “Education is useless if it does not generate work, in my opinion,” Gupta remarked.
This academic paradigm seen in India is not an outlier; reports from other nations reveal that popular degrees among international students are highly weighted toward disciplines of study that heavily integrate emerging sciences. The National Centre for Educational Statistics (NCES) in the United States reports that the two most popular degrees given in the country are business studies and health-related programmes. Both areas are making use of new technologies such as big data and artificial intelligence to improve decision-making and outcomes, resulting in a high need for digitally-literate graduates.
With 10,330 first-year students in the 2019-20 academic year, computer science has entered the ranks of business and finance degrees as a leading study choice for non-EU international students in the UK. The choice is unsurprising given the present UK job market: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) graduates earn the most, while degrees such as computer information systems and computer systems engineering have increased in demand by over 2000% in a year.
In terms of global mobility, pursuing degrees that increase digital skills and technical knowledge for STEM-based employment makes sense. For example, the UK’s efforts to attract global talent through the Graduate Route work visa and the High Potential Individual (HPI) visa may encourage international students to pursue degrees in data expertise and information technology. Meanwhile, the United States has decided to broaden its Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme to include 22 additional STEM subjects, allowing international graduates from American colleges to work for up to 24 months after graduation.
International students in Canada can get a post-graduation work permit (PGWP) to work for up to three years in the country, which may qualify them for permanent residency. According to studies, three out of every ten graduates successfully immigrate to Canada within a decade of receiving their initial student permit. Careers in oil and gas, finance, healthcare, scientific and technical services, as well as manufacturing and construction, had higher annual median salaries among PGWP holders in the workforce than those in other industries.
This evidence shows a strong relationship between technological literacy, employment results, and global mobility elements that will influence international students’ higher education decisions for years to follow.
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