Experts indicate an upward trend of Indian students coming from small cities for studying abroad.
The aspiration of gaining a degree from one of the top global universities isn’t a dream limited to students of the metros anymore. Increasingly, students from tier I and tier II cities are showing interest and also successfully enrolling themselves in foreign universities.
Be it Hissar in Haryana or Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, students, who earlier used to dream to be a part of global education, are now coming forward to realise it. Many education counsellors say that currently, the share of admission-related queries for foreign universities is more than that of bigger cities suggesting a wind of change.
They also say that even the response of education fairs and exhibitions, organised in state capitals such as Lucknow, Patna, and Chandigarh now witness more students visiting from further remote towns and cities, and showing interest in global education.
According to Educational Testing Service (ETS), a private non-profit organisation that conducts standardised admissions tests such as TOEFL and GRE for colleges and universities abroad, India has become the second-highest country of outbound students in the world (referring to a report).
“It is expected that India would send roughly 1.8 million more students to study abroad programs by 2024. The goal of attaining higher education qualifications from an international university is no longer only a dream of students from India’s metropolitan areas. Many youngsters from the tier II and tier III cities also hold aspirations of studying abroad,” said Lejo Oommen, Managing Director, ETS India.
He added, “Attractive career prospects are fuelling the ambitions of students from cities across India including from Jalandhar, Bhatinda, Moga, Patiala, Rajkot, Aanand, Surat, Vishakapatnam and Thrissur.”
The rise in the number of candidates appearing for standardised tests from towns and semi-urban areas is another indicator. Oommen said that he has witnessed a continued interest from students of smaller cities for standardised tests such as GRE General Test and TOEFL iBT test.
“In fact, the demand from the tier II and tier III cities in India was one of the driving factors behind the recent launch of TOEFL iBT Paper Edition, which began admissions in December 2021,” Oommen said. The TOEFL iBT Paper Edition is a physical test to be given on paper and is helpful for those students who don’t want to appear for an online test.
Ankit Mehra, an alumnus of IIT Kanpur and founder of an education financing marketplace GyanDhan, also confirms the influx of students studying abroad from tier 2 and tier 3 cities.
“In 2016, almost 65% of the applications were from the big six cities. This share has dropped to 40% in 2021. The number of towns from where we have received applications in the last year has increased six-fold since 2016, with applicants spanning the length and breadth of the country,” Mehra said adding that students from cities like Guntur (Andhra Pradesh), Hissar (Haryana), Dibrugarh (Assam) have also shown interest in global education which is a new trend.
Technology big driver
The entry of technology-based start-ups which provide a digital platform for counselling and training irrespective of candidates’ places of origin, is only adding to the trend.
Abhinav Mital, an Alumni of ISB Hyderabad and IIT Delhi, and co-founder of The WorldGrad, a hybrid learning-focused study abroad platform, explains why smaller cities have more aspirants for global education.
“Students from these cities are as ambitious as the ones from tier 1 cities and studying abroad is very aspirational for a lot of them. These students do not typically have as much access to good counselling services and also tend to be more price-sensitive,” he said.
Experts list multiple factors such as the availability of limited institutions offering niche, research-oriented/specialised courses and poor job prospects after receiving subpar education from average institutions.
“Employment opportunities after graduation and a drastic upgrade in living standards are a huge pull to pursue education from overseas universities,” Mittal said. Agreed Dr Suparno Chakrabarti, a Kolkata-based doctor, studied in London for several years. “Along with job prospects and good education, best international exposure, world-class laboratories and faculties, and affiliations — all play a big role in shaping an ambitious career. I believe, now with the growing middle class with an increased income is able to fulfil such aspirations.”
This article was first published as Over 60% Admission Queries For Foreign Studies Coming From Smaller Cities on the Outlook website. Visa Crunch has published the same article with a different headline without making any changes to the original article.
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