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Going to UK for education? Higher studies in Germany & France may be cheaper & easier

Posted on July 15, 2013
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During his state visit to India in February, French president Francois Hollande unveiled a plan to increase the number of Indian students studying in France by 50% in the next five years. Ambitious? Perhaps, but not unrealistic.

After all, the country did achieve that target last year – in 2012, almost 2,600 Indian students opted for higher education in France, a jump of 50% over the previous year. In 2013, this ease to 3,000.

The French government, Campus France – the national agency for the promotion of higher education, international student services and international mobility – is going all out to lay out the red carpet for Indian students.

Today ( July 14), France will launch a unique five-year circulation visa in the Schengen area which will be issued to Indian graduates of French institutions of higher learning for both business and tourism purposes. The scheme includes all present alumni — the 10,000 Indian nationals who’ve graduated from French institutions.

“We expect this [visa] will convince many students to apply to French institutions. Not only will it help them maintain networks they have built during their studies, it will also be a great asset in their professional life,” says Caroline Gueny-Mentre, attach for scientific and university co-operation, Campus France.

Further, Indian students can stay on for six months after graduating to look for employment in France in their line of work. Once hired, a long-stay work permit is readily obtainable with the help of the company.

Continental Shift

These steps are proving to be a huge advantage for France in view of the declining popularity of the once most-popular destination in Europe for Indian students — the UK. Since April 2012, the UK discontinued the two-year post-study work route for international non-European Union (EU) students.

Foreign students from non-EU countries graduating with a UK degree have to find a job with a UK Border Agency-licenced Tier 2 sponsor to remain in the UK after they finish their courses. (The Tier 2 category is for foreign nationals who have been offered a skilled job to fill a gap in the workforce that cannot be filled by a settled worker.)

Further, they will have to earn a minimum annual salary of £20,000. And there’s more to be worried about: the maintenance threshold for international students has been increased from April 2012, and students now have to show evidence of more funds to support themselves during their course. Small wonder then the number of Indian students going to the UK dropped to 15,097 in 2012 from 28,774 in 2011.

While the English language is still a big draw of the UK for Indian students, things are changing.

In the past, it was not easy for students to work in non- English speaking countries of Europe after their studies and many found it difficult to pick up a foreign language.

“Students who have family businesses prefer to study in the EU because the courses are generally shorter and hence cheaper. Such students are not looking for employment,” explains Karan Gupta, a Mumbai-based education consultant.

Besides, he adds, some EU countries such as France and Germany have special work visas that international students can apply for. “The majority of Indian students are value-seekers.

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