Sunday, November 16, 2014

Enrolment of Indian students in US up by 28%

The total number of Indian students studying in the US shot up 28% to 134,292 students, comprising the second largest foreign student body in America after China, according to a new report published on Thursday by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

A startling majority - 65% - were studying engineering, computer science, and information technology and support services, and together with students in other STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields made up 79% of all India students in America. As a result, though Indians only make up 12% of the foreign student population in the US, they constitute 26% of all foreign STEM students. Business, biology, and medicine were the next most popular fields of study, with the social sciences, humanities and liberal arts, and visual and performing arts the least popular fields.

The gender balance of Indian students is similarly skewered, two-thirds being male and only one-third being female. In total, there are 89,561 Indian male students and only 44,731 Indian female students.

A major reason for the rapid growth in students is economic, according to Naveen Chopra, Chairman of The Chopras, an educational consulting group based in Delhi. "The US economy is growing now, and unemployment has fallen from 10% to 6%," Chopra said, adding that "Indian students believe the US has the best opportunities for work."

This increase reflects a greater trend for both Indian undergraduate and graduate students studying in the US. The total number of Indian graduate students enrolled there has jumped 26% to 54,245 students, according to a new report released Wednesday by the American Council of Graduate Schools. This was the second consecutive year of double digit growth, building upon a 14% increase last year, and a sharp reversal in trend from years past when Indian graduate school enrollment was actually decreasing.

This was also by far the largest increase among Asian countries in the Council of Graduate Schools survey, compensating for sagging graduate enrollment rates in countries such as China, with a mere 3% increase, and Korea, with a 6% decrease. Only Brazil, which sends less than one-twentieth the number of students India does to the US, saw higher growth at 32%.

The number of Indian students in Australia and New Zealand are also increasing. Australia, which registered a huge dip in Indian student enrollment after a series of racially motivated attacks on Indian students in 2009, has recovered in recent years with total student visa applications from India more than doubling from 2012 to 2013.

However, Indian enrollment in the United Kingdom has been plummeting, dropping 44% from 2010-11 to 2012-13, says the Higher Education Funding Council for England, going from 18,535 to 10,235 students during that time period. This was mainly because of changes in visa regulations, said Chopra. "The UK curtailed their two-year, post-study work visa in 2012, which used to let students stay in the UK to find employment after graduation," he pointed out. "As a result, the middle class market collapsed. But you still find many upper class students going to the UK."

Scholarships may also be a factor. "The US is way ahead of the UK and Australia in scholarships, which allows hardworking middle class Indian students to go to the US," Chopra said. A National Union of Students survey found earlier this year that nearly 63% of Indian PhD students in the UK felt the UK government was "not welcoming" or "not welcoming at all".

This precarious drop has sent the UK scrambling to repair its tattered image. UK universities and sciences minister Nick Clark recently visited India for three days to strengthen educational ties between the UK and India and to address "misconceptions" that Indian students might have about the difficulty of obtaining visas to the UK. During his stay he also announced a new five-year initiative to send 25,000 students from the UK to India.

Source: The Times of India, November 16, 2014

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