Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Fees go up, study abroad 30% dearer

A student going abroad to study this year will be paying a good 30% more than what he would have paid three years ago. Factoring in the increase in tuition fee and the falling value of rupee, a foreign degree, both undergraduate and postgraduate, is getting increasingly expensive. Yet, students, education consultants and even private financing agencies say the rising costs are a nuisance but do not influence the decision to go abroad.

Neeraj Saxena, business head at Avanse Education Loans, says the bulk of students going to the US go for 'MS' (postgraduate engineering) or MBA courses. "An MS or MBA will cost Rs. 2.5 million at least and may cost as much as Rs. 7 million at the better universities in the US," says Saxena. An undergraduate course comes with a tag of about Rs. 14 million. "Over the last three years, there would have been a 20-25 % increase in tuition fees alone and also an increase in conversion rates." His estimates cover the tuition fee and basic living expenses .

"The increasing price structure and devaluation of the rupee is making foreign education nearly unaffordable ," says Lata Vaidyanathan, "Going abroad is always Plan B. But if even with 90% students can't get in a good college and have a range of other qualifications , they go abroad."

Rajiv Gupta, CEO, EGE Global Education, makes the same point — a good score not ensuring a seat in a popular college due to rising cutoffs is pushing a lot of students to opt out of the Indian system. "If you have scored more than 90 and dreamt of going to a top college , you wouldn't want to settle for a C-grade institution especially if you have the resources for an education abroad," he says.

There are roughly three categories of students going abroad — those who have substantial scholarships (70% or more), those with about 20%- 30% scholarships and the self-financing group. It's the second group, with partial scholarships, which is likely to be most affected. However, as Gupta says, if you are paying Rs. 9 million any way, you will find another Rs. 500,000-600,000.

"If I can pay Rs.100, I can pay Rs. 102," says Prabhmeher Singh Nanda who completed Class XII from Modern School, Barakhamba Road and is going to study business at King's College, London. He has worked his finances out; he'll need £ 26,000-27 ,000 to cover the essentials — tuition and living costs. "The way I see it, it's an investment and 2-3 % difference shouldn't affect if or where you are going. If the rupee can depreciate, it can also appreciate," he says. "And over three years," he says, "The rates will even out."

Source: The Economic Times (Online Edition), June 11, 2013

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