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After three-year slump, rising number of Indians choosing US universities

Posted on November 25, 2014
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After a three-year decline, the number of Indians gone to study in the United States has risen by six percent in this academic year, with 1.02 lakh students currently studying in various US universities- as compared to 96,754 in the previous year. The information is part of the 2014 Open Doors report, an annual study of international students and scholars studying and teaching in US institutions. The report will be released in the US on Monday.

The current year’s figure of Indian students in the US is lower than that of 2009-10, a year when a record 1.06 lakh Indian students had gone there. But this year’s 6.1% rise is still significant, because it comes on the back of three years when the number of US-bound Indian students was dipping.

Strong Indian rupee and reviving economy are being considered as the major factor behind this jump which has a potential to boost the international education sector inIndia once again. Besides, US varsities had increased their efforts to reach out to Indian students by organising various exhibitions in metro cities in past two years which has definitely started paying off now, say observers.

Ryan Pereira, regional director of United States-India Educational Foundation, attributed the rise to increased confidence in the Indian parents. “The rupee was weak in previous years, resulting in the decline in Indian students going to the US. The rupee has stabilized now, and the economy is also on the path to revival. These factors are confidence-boosters for Indian parents. Besides, an increase in social media penetration is also helping US varsities to increase their visibility in India.”

The Open Doors report is prepared by the nonprofit Institute of International Education with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State.

” A combination of economic and policy factors have resulted in the rebounding in the Indian student numbers, including the stabilization of the Indian rupee against the US dollar, the high quality of US higher education, and possibly attracting some students who may not feel as welcome in other host countries such as the UK. and Australia that have recently seen a drop in the number of Indian students,” says Rajika Bhandari, Deputy Vice President, Research and Evaluation, International Institute of Education.

The report also underlines the fact that the US is the top destination for students around the world, and most international students in the US are from China and India.

An education expert also said that US universities had gained from Indian students’ decreased interest in universities in the United Kingdom and Australia. Both countries had tightened their visa norms a few years ago, and the UK government had abolished its popular post-study-visa.

Overall, the US saw a rise of 8.1% in the international students in 2013-14 with 8.86 lakh students from various countries studying in US varsities. Almost 31% of the students came from China and 11.6% from India. Interestingly, India had been the leading place of origin for international students in the US from 2001-02 through 2008-09, then China took its place.

In the US, international students prefer the New York University, the University of Southern California, the University of Illinois and Columbia University. Each of these hosted more than 10,000 international students, the report said.

“International students contributed more than $27 billion to the US economy in 2013. They also contribute to America’s scientific and technical research and bring international perspectives into US classrooms and often lead to longer-term business relationships and economic benefits,” states the report.

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