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.
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