How the best and brightest from China and India choose their expensive American degrees demonstrates the differing levels of development between the world’s only billion-person economies.
Chinese students tend to choose undergraduate courses focused on business, while Indians opt for short graduate programs in more technical subjects like science and math.
A report from the Institute of International Education published this week has the figures. China continued to be the biggest exporter of students to the United States by far. It had more than 274,000 students stateside, which was a 17% increase from the previous year.
India was a distant second but still had more than 102,000 college and university students to America. That was a 6% increase from the year before, and the first rise in the number of students from the subcontinent in five years.
Back in the school year which ended in June 2010, China passed India as the biggest source of foreign freshman in the U.S.—a title India had held for years. China has been adding to that lead ever since.
China’s rise to the top—it had 200,000 more students last year to the U.S. than it did just eight years earlier—reflects the growing incomes and increasing globalization of the country’s citizens, analysts say.
Chinese students were much more likely to go to the states for undergraduate studies than Indian students. Only around 12% of Indians that study in the U.S. were there for undergraduate studies during the past school year, compared to 40% of Chinese students, the IIE study showed.
It makes sense, said Akhil Daswani, chief operating officer of OnCourse Vantage, an education consulting company in India, an undergraduate degree is a luxury few Indians can afford.
“If you are going to spend $250,000 over four years you have to have a considerable amount of disposable income,” Mr. Daswani said. “Undergraduate schools are marketing heavily (in China). It is the first place they want to go because they are getting so much business.”
When they go for an international degree, Indians prefer to get more bang for their rupee, they tend to go for two-year graduate courses that lead to high-paying jobs.
Close to 80% of Indian students in the U.S. last year were aiming to get technical degrees in science, technology, engineering or math, the study showed. That figure for China was 42%. Chinese students, meanwhile, leaned more towards business degrees. Around 28% of Chinese students were studying business compared to 12% of Indian students.
The wave of international degree hunters has helped finance struggling schools in tough times in the U.S.–Chinese students spent a total of $8 billion in the U.S. last school year while Indian students spent $3.3 billion, the report said.
However student numbers show that Indians tend to wait for better times in the U.S. before they try to go study there.
They don’t want to land in America when no one is hiring. One of the reasons the number of Indian students going to the states fell for four years in a row is that Indian students didn’t have confidence in the U.S. economy. Their return to American campuses could be a leading indicator that things are looking up, said Mr. Daswani.
“There has been a turn in the job market,” in the U.S., he said. “When you see employment numbers going up in the U.S. people over here start getting inspired to apply abroad, to make the shift.”
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27 Nov 2012
The number of Indian students going overseas to study rose a stunning 256% – from 53,266 to 189,629 – in just nine years (2000–2009) according to a study called “Indian student mobility to selected European countries: An overview” by researchers at one of India’s top business schools, the Indian Institute of Management–Bangalore.
This is welcome news for the many institutions in Europe and North America that are the main recipients of Indian students, but it is also cause for concern in some quarters in India.
A different study done by the Associated Chamber of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM) estimated that the hundreds of thousands of Indian students now studying abroad cost India as much as US $17 billion a year in lost revenue.
We should note that the ASSOCHAM study appears to significantly overestimate the volume of outbound students at “over six lakhs” (e.g., over 600,000). Other sources, such as the UNESCO Institute of Statistics and the Institute of International Education, put the number of Indian students studying abroad in 2010–2011 in the range of 200,000, which is much more in line with the estimates we see in the IIM-Bangalore report.
Where Indians study abroad and why
The IIM-Bangalore study, conducted by Rupa Chanda and Shahana Mukherjee, reveals fascinating details about where Indian students are choosing to study when they go abroad, and why:
The US remains the most popular destination for Indian students and is still perceived to provide the most prestigious and valuable credentials of all study abroad destinations. But it has recently lost some ground; the US still attracts more than half of all Indian students going abroad to study, but it saw its share of students from this country drop from 73.4% in 2000 to 53.6% in 2009.
The UK overtook Australia in 2009 to become the second-most important destination for Indian students (after the US, the UK attracted 17% of all Indian students studying abroad in 2009). But the study contends that the UK places “exorbitant” financial demands on Indian students and that this, coupled with other countries’ growing attractiveness as well as the UK’s tightening of visa regulations, will cause the UK problems in recruiting in the near future.
Germany and France, like the US, have lost some share of Indians since 2000, but they are expected to gain share in the expected event that the UK will lose some in the coming years (see previous bullet).
Countries like Sweden, Denmark, Italy, and Ireland are now in Indian students’ consideration sets. The study observes that Indian students are looking at countries where “education is considerably cheaper and part-time jobs are easier to secure.” But it also says that Indians are less willing than other international students to look outside the big four or five leading study abroad destinations, and that emerging countries trying to recruit more Indian students will have to work on their visibility in this market.
Most of the Indians studying abroad are doing so at the graduate level, with the most popular fields being business or STEM-related (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).
Most of them rely on scholarships and/or other financial assistance to fund their education, but the study notes that many Indian students pursuing degrees abroad are taking on heavy financial burdens and debt to do so.
Reporting on the study, The Economic Times also noted:
“The profile of the internationally mobile Indian students is changing. Traditionally, north Indians flocked to Europe for higher education, but increasingly, students from Gujarat as well as the southern states are making a beeline for institutes in those countries …. And when it comes to scholarships and grants, most of them are bagged by students from southern India.”
As for why so many Indians are choosing to go abroad for education, Chanda and Mukherjee argue that along with (a) a perception that foreign degrees translate into better employability and (b) rising income levels among middle-class families in India, India’s educational capacity remains limited:
“An important reason for many Indians choosing to study abroad is the lack of good institutions in India and growing competition for limited seats amongst the existing institutes. Very few universities in India provide good quality education and thus the challenge of securing admission in them becomes more daunting each year.
An example of this is Delhi University, which has consistently set challenging cut-offs for admission and made headlines in 2011, with a 100% cut-off required for admission into Sri Ram College of Commerce. Though the cut-offs vary across subjects, most subjects require students to score in excess of 80%, with the cut-offs for popular subjects like economics ranging between 90% to 98%. Similarly, an engineering aspirant has lower than a one in 50 chance of securing admission into the highly reputed Indian Institutes of Technology.
Moreover, the reservation policy reduces the availability of seats to ‘general’ category students, thereby weakening the prospects of a majority of students. Such stringent and often unrealistic requirements put students through extreme levels of pressure and lower their chances of attaining quality education.”
Brain drain effects
The study has prompted discussion in India about how to redress the significant financial loss – not to mention talent drain, when Indians remain in foreign countries to work after completing degrees there – caused by the great number of Indians getting their education abroad.
ASSOCHAM wants “more and more quality educational institutions to be set up in India on the lines of IIT and IIM in order to restrict the outgo of students.” They also say “good quality foreign universities should be encouraged to [set up shop in] India.”
Both of these prospects for expanding Indian education capacity, however, appear to be constrained by strict government controls.
As India continues to wrestle with the need to increase capacity, the study’s findings underline important opportunities and considerations for foreign education recruiters and national educational policy makers.
Currently, Indians are mostly looking at the US and UK as study abroad destinations, but well-communicated advantages in the form of scholarships, visa policies, and opportunities to work during and after degree-completion could easily move them to consider other options in North America and Europe (e.g., Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland).
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International Student Enrollment Increased by 5 Percent in 2010/11, Led by Strong Increase in Students From ChinaUSC top host university; California top host state; NYC top host city; Women represent 45 percent of international students; Business and Management, Engineering remain top fields of study
November 14, 2011—The number of international students at colleges and universities in the United States increased by five percent to 723,277 during the 2010/11 academic year, according to the Open Doors report, which is published annually by the Institute of International Education (IIE) in partnership with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. This represents a record high number of international students in the United States. This is the fifth consecutive year that Open Doors figures show growth in the total number of international students, and there are now 32 percent more international students studying at U.S. colleges and universities than there were a decade ago. The 2010/11 rate of growth is stronger than the three percent increase in total international enrollment reported the previous year, and the six percent increase in new international student enrollment this past year shows more robust new growth than the one percent increase the prior year.
Increased numbers of students from China, particularly at the undergraduate level, largely accounts for the growth this past year. Chinese students increased by 23 percent in total and by 43 percent at the undergraduate level. These increases have been felt across the United States, with the top 20 host universities and top 10 host states each hosting more international students than in the prior year. Women represent approximately 45 percent of the total number of international students.
These strong increases have significant economic impact on the United States, as international students contribute more than $21 billion to the U.S. economy, through their expenditures on tuition and living expenses, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Higher education is among the United States’ top service sector exports, as international students provide significant revenue not just to the host campuses but also to local economies of the host states for living expenses, including room and board, books and supplies, transportation, health insurance, and support for accompanying family members. Open Doors 2011 reports that 63 percent of all international students receive the majority of their funds from personal and family sources. When other sources of foreign funding are included, such as assistance from their home country governments or universities, almost 70 percent of all international students’ primary funding, including tuition, comes from sources outside of the United States.
Higher numbers of international students were seen across the United States, with most states hosting higher numbers of students in 2010/11. Perennial leaders California, New York, Texas, Massachusetts and Illinois remained as the top five hosts. Among the top 10 host states, Massachusetts, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana all had increases that were higher than the national average (eight percent or greater.) Ohio had the greatest percentage increase, with 10.5 percent, and Ohio and Pennsylvania each moved up in the list. Economic analysis, produced by NAFSA: Association of International Educators, using Open Doors enrollment figures, show that international students in the top 10 host states bring revenue ranging from several million to nearly three billion dollars to their host states. (For further details, see Fact Sheets by State on IIE’s Open Doors data portal and the Economic Impact section of the NAFSA website).
“Because of the excellence and diversity of our colleges and universities, more students worldwide are choosing to study in the United States,” said Ann Stock, Assistant Secretary of State (R). “Young people who study abroad gain the global skills necessary to create solutions to 21st Century challenges. In turn, international students globalize our campuses and communities.”
“It is positive news that our higher education institutions continue to excel in attracting students from all over the world, and in preparing American students to succeed in an increasingly global environment,” said Allan Goodman, President and CEO of the Institute of International Education. “Educational exchange in both directions furthers business and cultural ties between the United States and other countries.”
Chinese student enrollment in the United States rose to a total of nearly 158,000 students, or nearly 22 percent of the total international student population, making China the leading sending country for the second year in a row. Students from India, the second largest international cohort in the United States, decreased by one percent to a total of nearly 104,000. Yet, India, as a destination for U.S. students study abroad, increased 44.4 percent. While slightly declining in numbers, students from India still represent 14 percent of all international students in U.S. higher education, with tens of thousands more students from India in U.S. higher education than in any other host country. South Korea is the third leading place of origin, with more than 73,000 students, increasing by two percent and making up 10 percent of the total.
Together, the top three sending countries–China, India and South Korea–comprise nearly half (46 percent) of the total international enrollments in U.S. higher education. Canada, Taiwan, Saudi Arabia, and Japan each represent approximately three to four percent of the total international student population, with these top seven places of origin comprising about 60 percent of the total.
There were strong increases in the number of students from a few countries, most notably China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Iran, and Venezuela, which all had increases of more than 10 percent. Saudi Arabia moved up to number six this year, with an increase of 44 percent, due primarily to the large Saudi government scholarship program that has been ramping up over the past few years. Vietnam increased by 14 percent, moving up to #8 this year from #20 five years ago. Iran joined the leading 25 places of origin, moving up to #22 with a 19 percent increase to just over 5,600 students. Venezuela moved up to #23, with an increase of 11 percent to almost 5,500 students. Both Iran and Venezuela had been among the top sending countries in the 1970s to 1980s, when both oil-rich countries sent large numbers of their students to the United States for higher education.
International enrollments at the undergraduate level reached 291,439, an increase of six percent. This increase brings the number of undergraduate international students much closer to the number of graduate level international students at 296,574. The proportion of graduate to undergraduate international students has fluctuated over the past decade. In 2000/01, there were more undergraduate international students, but this was reversed in 2001/02, and graduate international enrollments since then have remained higher than undergraduate. This year, the gap has narrowed, with close to 5,000 more graduate students in 2010/11 compared to nearly 20,000 more graduate students than undergraduate students the previous year. The total number of international students in non-degree programs, including short term programs and English language study, was up 8 percent to more than 59,000.
Early indications of international enrollments for Fall 2011, based on a “snapshot” Fall 2011 Online Survey conducted by IIE in cooperation with seven other higher education associations, show that campuses are seeing continued increases in the number of international students they host.
China is the leading place of origin for international students in the United States with 157,558 in 2010/11 (an increase of 23 percent from the previous year), followed by #2 India (103,895, down 1 percent), #3 South Korea (73,351, up 2 percent), #4 Canada (27,546, down 2 percent), #5 Taiwan (24,818 down 7 percent), #6 Saudi Arabia (22,704, up 44 percent), #7 Japan (21,290 down 14 percent), #8 Vietnam (14,888, up 14 percent), #9 Mexico (13,713, up 2 percent), #10 Turkey (12,184, down 2 percent), #11 Nepal (10,301, down 8 percent), #12 Germany (9,458, down 1 percent), #13 United Kingdom (8,947, up 1 percent), #14 Brazil (8,777, no change), #15 Thailand (8,236, down 4 percent), #16 Hong Kong (8,136, up 1 percent), #17 France (8,098, up 5 percent), #18 Nigeria (7,148 up 9 percent), #19 Indonesia (6,942, no change), #20 Malaysia (6,735, up 9 percent), #21 Colombia (6,456, down 7 percent), #22 Iran (5,626, up 19%), #23 Venezuela (5,491, up 11%), #24 Pakistan (5,045, down 3 percent), #25 Russia (4,692, down 2.8 percent). (For breakdowns by country, including historical trends and academic level, see the Fact Sheets by Country on the Open Doors data portal.)
The top 10 most popular fields of study for international students in the United States in 2009/10 were Business and Management (22 percent of total), Engineering (19 percent), Mathematics and Computer Science (9 percent), Physical and Life Sciences (9 percent), Social Sciences (9 percent), Fine & Applied Arts (5 percent), Health Professions (5 percent), Intensive English Language (5 percent), Education (2 percent), Humanities (2 percent), and Agriculture (1 percent). Undeclared majors are excluded from the rankings of top fields of study.
For the tenth year in a row, the University of Southern California is the leading host institution, with 8,615 international students in 2010/11. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign hosts the second highest number of foreign students (7,991), with New York University a close #3 (7,988). Other campuses in the top 10 are: Purdue University (7,562), Columbia University (7,297), University of California–Los Angeles (6,249), Ohio State University (moving up from #15 the previous year, with 6,082), University of Michigan–Ann Arbor (5,995), Michigan State University (5,748), and Harvard University (moving up from #14 with 5,594).
California remains the leading host state for international students (96,535, up 2 percent), followed by New York (78,888, up 4 percent), Texas (61,636, up 5 percent), Massachusetts (38,698, up 10 percent), Illinois (33,766, up 9 percent), Pennsylvania (30,507, up 9 percent), Florida (29,719, no change), Ohio (24,709, up 11 percent), Michigan (24,668, up 2 percent), and Indiana (20,112, up 8 percent). (For breakdowns by state, including leading host institutions and leading fields of study and places of origin for foreign students studying in each state, see the Fact Sheets by State on the Open Doors data portal.)
The Open Doors report is published by the Institute of International Education, the leading not-for-profit educational and cultural exchange organization in the United States. IIE has conducted an annual statistical survey of the international students in the United States since 1919, in partnership with the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs since the early 1970s. The census is based on a survey of approximately 3,000 accredited U.S. institutions which host international students. Open Doors also reports on surveys on international scholars at U.S. universities; international students enrolled in pre-academic Intensive English Programs; and on U.S. students studying abroad (since 1985). A full press kit and further details on the Open Doors 2011 surveys and their findings can be accessed on the Open Doors website, and the full 120 page report can be ordered for $64.95 from IIE Books.
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) of the U.S. Department of State leads a wide range of academic, professional, and cultural exchanges that include approximately 40,000 participants annually, including the Fulbright Fellowships and Scholarships and the International Visitor Leadership Program, with the goal of increasing mutual understanding and respect between the people of the United States and the people of other countries. ECA sponsors the Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarships for U.S. undergraduates with financial need, administered by IIE, and also manages the EducationUSA network of advising offices, providing information to students around the world who wish to study in the United States. For more information on the Department of State’s educational and cultural exchange activities, visit www.exchanges.state.gov
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