Going overseas for higher education has remained a strong interest of many Indians for decades. We have read and heard of stories of eminent Indians traveling to foreign shores in search of not just knowledge but a higher destiny.

Changing face of overseas higher education

British India saw many pioneers such as Jagadish Chandra Bose, Har Govind Khorana, and S Chandrasekhar who went overseas on a quest for knowledge and higher studies, ultimately achieving eminence and winning Nobel prizes in their respective fields. Many others have followed them over the years!

The emphasis laid out in the newly born independent India to become self-reliant and the investments in the form of Indian Institute of Technology allowed collaborative engagements that saw students learning overseas, graduating and then returning home and becoming faculty to train the next generations. The opportunity of overseas higher education, accorded definitely by the superior infrastructure at the host countries as well as fueled by very different financial priorities faced by the then existing government of the independent India have morphed significantly over the decades.

The ability to work with and alongside peers from various nations truly has made it an international study experience replete with inter-cultural learnings. The amalgamation of the brightest minds from across the world is bound to accelerate discoveries and inventions.

Post reforms brought in by the Narasimha Rao government in the early 90s and the subsequent liberalization has allowed the middle class in India, that had already always associated the highest importance to education, to become a dominant aspirational class that allowed many young Indians to venture overseas to secure higher education.

is overseas higher education still attractive in India?

Top International destinations to study in recent years.

The United States and United Kingdom have clearly remained dominant destinations of choice for long, and in the recent decade or so we have now seen the rise of many commonwealth countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand and others such as Germany and France become prominent choices for many students from India as well.

Pandemic and it’s impact on higher education abroad

Recent disruptions arising from the COVID19 pandemic have led to self-reflections for all the stakeholders involved, prospective student applicants, administrators at universities and governments who are banking on the intellectual capital. Online learning through virtual platforms (Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco WebEx, Microsoft Teams and others) has provided a means for affordable access to higher education and is certainly going to dominate even in a post COVID-19 world, in a manner that we didn’t know it could, even though it had achieved popularity in the years leading up to the pandemic.

Earlier online learning was mostly seen as a viable option for working professionals who wished to upskill or grow laterally in their company. Today, with the pandemic making virtual learning a reality for all right from school children to professional degrees, it is time to re-look if travelling abroad for higher education will continue to have a positive momentum.

The question is, can online learning replace on-campus learning?

Does it provide for an international exposure that is comparable to that from sitting in a multi-cultural classroom? And of course the spect of practical learning? Will it be able to provide the same catalysts that fuel discoveries and inventions?

There have already been reports of students opting to take a gap year or of those deciding to not enroll in fully online learning courses in foreign universities, clearly not to indicate that online learning is not a potent medium, but more so probably for hedging time to ensure that they are getting a good exposure to the cultural immersion that they so desire from being on a campus.

Higher education is definitely a strong and attractive choice for many Indians today. The fast pace of technology and the ever evolving skill requirements for a workplace in an increasingly digital era have meant that higher education and specialized skills are not only pivotal to the future workforce, but are still continuously brewing, making them even more necessary than ever before. 

This post is part of BlogchatterA2Z challenge

Guest Post by Nikhil Tambe – responsible for developing international collaborations

16 Replies to “Is overseas higher education still attractive?”

  1. Depite the ‘improvements’ in our education our nation’s policy of Reservation has made a mockery of our educational system. When meritocracyis replaced by quotas, education is bound to suffer so I feel that a foreign education however expensive and difficult is the only way a child’s brain is taught to THINK and create and not just aim for marks to get a JOB. Our education system neither trains nor teaches it just makes our children into followers.

  2. Going abroad for a nighter education has always been attractive option but with pandemic and its uncertainty, many aspiring youngsters are in double minds.

  3. I feel oversea education is a attractive option for youngster, the current education system followed in our country is not upto the mark. Oversea education option is the best if the student wants to settle down abroad.

  4. This pandemic has affected all major areas of our lives and education system is not spare with this. of course, foreign education has its own perk and in person learning has many advantages compare to online learning. but students have to wait till things get normalized to get benefit of in person learning.

  5. I think as someone who has studied abroad, but the Indian syllabus, I’m quite okay but hated what I had to study about. But yes if you are ambitious and want to grow, perhaps international education is the best. Hopefully India will soon change their syllabus.

  6. I am seeing many students who have enrolled in foreign universities this year. But they are stuck due to the travel curbs by particular countries. They only face a lot of uncertainty and stress. Their future is at stake and they don’t know what to do about it.

  7. Brain dragon is always a concern but do we have any other option? Education abroad is preferred for quality education but pandemic has ruined dreams of many youngsters, Hope this shall get over soon.

  8. Brain drain is always a concern but do we have any other option? Education abroad is preferred for quality education but pandemic has ruined dreams of many youngsters, Hope this shall get over soon.

  9. It is a difficult situation now. The exposure of overseas campus, interaction won’t come online. But given the situation now, It is going to be difficult for everyone. The uncertainty is too bad.

  10. I guess online education can never replace the physical one and for those who have paid a hefty fees abroad it is such a pain to not being able to learn in the university

  11. Pandemic must have caused a lot of uproar for a student who is planning or must have planned for higher education. I am sure there will be leeway and considerations across universities to accommodate the students and helps them pursue a good education.

  12. Sadly the Indian education needs the change and reform that it has been carrying on for eons now. International education on the other hand is not just bookish education but an overall development of the person. The experience of living in a new place with new people and studying surely does bring out the different person that what you are back home.

  13. I believe, that online education can never be a replacement for a physical schooling system. Although new policies have been rolled out in the education sector, however, it still would take a lot of time to be in accordance with the overseas standards.

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