As per Open Doors Statistics, 2016 recorded a 25 % rise in the number of Indian students studying in the US. Despite current immigration policies, Indian students who aspire to study at top colleges abroad are working diligently to gain admission at their dream universities. Apart from students, executives and professionals are opting for an international programme either to further their qualifications or to enhance job-related skills. The Indian Government also facilitates many opportunities for students to study in various countries on scholarships.
We are indeed setting our eyes more than ever on an international academic opportunity for holistic learning, diverse networking, and global exposure. Let’s take a closer look to understand the reasons behind changes in our mindsets towards study abroad.
X “It’s beneficial only if you are not coming back to India”
✔ There are a broad range of opportunities to maximize back home
The number of successful entrepreneurial ventures in India helmed by graduates from top-tier business schools will tell you a different story. Snapdeal co-founder Kunal Bahl is an alumnus of the University of Pennsylvania. Saurabh Kumar and Albinder Dhindsa, founders of Grofers, are graduates of eminent foreign institutions. Saurabh is an alumnus of the University of Texas in Austin and Dhindsa completed his MBA from Columbia University.
In fact, there is a growing surge among Indians to only study abroad to gain holistic learning, then return home and implement their education to make the most of the opportunities in our country and leave a mark in their field of choice. The international platform offers several unique opportunities that allow you to not only build on your academic base but also your soft skills, a pre-requisite in a leader and a team player.
- Diversity: You’ll be studying with an eclectic group of learners coming from different professional and academic backgrounds like musicians, educators, actors, athletes, and many more. You’ll be collaborating with your peers on various projects. It will enable you to learn a variety of working styles and align your methods to achieve desired outcomes.
- Global network: You’ll have an extensive list of international contacts. Your network will be a steady source of opportunities in the future.
You can tap into your network for guidance, pooling in foreign investments, liaising with stakeholders, reaching out to prospective co-founders and forming partnerships for innovative enterprises, start-ups etc.
- Cross-cultural awareness: Your world view will change as you’ll interact with people from different countries, communities, and cultures. You’ll appreciate and understand different viewpoints, and encourage a similar culture in your own team or organisation back home.
- Soft Skills: The curriculum abroad focuses on collaborative and interactive models of learning. There is also great emphasis on engagement outside the classroom. The extensive group work, peer-to-peer collaboration, presentations, and event organisation will help you polish your soft skills and communication, a relevant skill set in any field.
An international education prepares you to succeed as an individual by allowing more scope for self-discovery and personal growth. You’ll develop new-found appreciation for your own traditions and culture and be driven by the urge to help it flourish.
X “It’s only for the toppers”
✔ There’s something for everyone
It was believed that only top scorers were accepted into reputed foreign universities. Though you do need to secure good grades in academics, many institutions also evaluate your overall performance in both scholastic and non-scholastic areas. Colleges want to know your other capabilities and interests. They are looking for an all-round performer. Here are some achievements that would add value to your credentials:
- You have actively volunteered for organisations
- Represented your school/college
- Led a group, steered a campaign, and/or headed a club
- Have participated in exchange programmes/internships
- Contribute write-ups to magazines, and/or write blogs
- You are a talented artist, an ace sportsperson, etc.
This is one of the reasons that schools are encouraging children to become more versatile by participating in various extra-curricular activities. Furthermore, we no longer consider studying abroad the prerogative of a selected few. The rising interest among students and the increasing number of enrolments of Indians in colleges across the globe prove that we have moved away from our pre-conceived notions.
X “It’s expensive and unaffordable”
✔ There are a number of resources you can tap to increase affordability
Financial concerns are there, but not as roadblocks. Due to a large number of programme options, applicants can choose what fits their need and financial eligibility. Students are conducting considerable research on the various facilities and benefits available and then deciding on the course and the school.
Secondly, most foreign universities like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, etc. offer financial aid to international students. There are also a number of external resources students can tap. The Fulbright Scholarship offered by the US and the Rhodes Scholarship by the UK are two prestigious awards granted to highly talented international students.
Merit-based scholarships can be fully funded, covering expenses like tuition, boarding, travel, etc. You also have countries like Canada, Australia, Germany, and Singapore offering exclusive financial benefits to foreign candidates along with easy availability of work visa. Here’s a list of resources that students are resorting to for funds:
- Scholarships provided by Universities, Governments, and private organisations
- Pooling from personal connections like family, relatives, and friends
- Bank loans
- Working part-time as research associate, library/lab assistant, assistant teacher, etc.
Indians on scholarships can save a considerable amount of their stipend. If you stay on a budget, restrain from spending unnecessarily, and adopt a humble lifestyle, you can avoid a run for cash. Records show that alumni of eminent universities have secured good jobs or started their own businesses within and outside India. Today parents want their children to receive an education abroad from premier institutions because of a promising future and ROI.
X “It’s not safe”
✔ Student safety is priority no. 1
Parents were concerned about the safety of their children while they were in a foreign country. Today, with innumerable modes of communication, you can always remain connected with each other. Parents are now leveraging different apps and messenger services to keep a tab on their children. Students are regularly in touch with their family over Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.
Furthermore, the Indian Government has installed MADAD, the online Consular Services Management System, to help Indian students studying in different geographies. There is greater awareness about various sources of help and contact points. Parents and students are adopting concrete and effective measures to ensure security and safety before leaving home.
The more we understand the implications of international exposure, the more our views change. It’s imperative that in a global era, we approach education with an open mind. We must integrate all our learning to transform ourselves as well as society at large.