Indian students study in US this year records 166,000

International students in America topped the one million mark for the first time this year, and with 165,918 students, Indian students are the second biggest group after the Chinese. In terms of cost of education, even at a conservative estimate of Rs 20 lakh per annum, Indian students are collectively spending a whopping Rs 33,000-crore on their American degrees annually. While the college tuition fee varies between Rs 5 lakh and Rs 25 lakh per annum depending on the course and the college, the cost of living and other expenses add up to Rs 10 lakh a year and studying in America costs an average of Rs 20 lakh a year, with the cost going up to Rs 40 lakh a year for an MBA from a top American business school. Though mathematically, the figure of Rs 33,000-crore looks humungous, from every individual student’s point of view, it is seen as the cost of opportunity for a better future. Even after factoring for the scholarship component and the earnings from working while studying, only a small percentage of the costs are covered.

The number of hours are fixed and the wages are fixed. 15$ an hour may seem big when converted to Rs 1000, but we advise students that they should not expect to pay off their student loans by the time they get their American degree. Also, the cost of education in America is at par with other destinations like UK, Australia and Canada, give or take 10-15 per cent. Given that a total of 3 lakh Indian students are studying abroad, the total amount going out of the country for foreign education adds up to Rs 60,000 crore.
The record rush to American colleges is with good reason. In terms of numbers, the 2016 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange released on Monday revealed that the 1 million foreigners account for 5 per cent of America’s student population and India accounts for one out of every six international students in the United States.

Approximately three-fifths of Indian students are at the graduate level and three-fourths are in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). “I am delighted to see the incredible year-on-year rise in the number of Indian students who have chosen the US as their preferred destination for higher education,”says American Consul General Thomas Vajda, adding that the choices are reflective of the ever-stronger ties between India and US and the exceptional opportunities for education available to students at every level and in every field.

With India emerging as an increasingly important market for the American education system, the US government has set up seven Education centers in the country, with a series of seminars and programmes lined up to woo Indian students and increase the intake every year. A professor of IIT Bombay said, “More than 95 per cent Indian students going abroad actually aim to work and settle there. Study is just a stepping stone.” Students blame it on government’s inability to reform the crucial higher education sector. “Unless we expand quality University education, we would continue losing out higher number of bright brains to the west along with foreign reserve,” said an Indian student currently studying in Stanford University.

International politics experts give some credit of this rise to improved diplomatic relations between India and US in the last few years. “The bonhomie between Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and outgoing US President Barack Obama has created more enthusiasm among Indians.” China remains the top country of international students in the US, increasing by eight per cent to 328,000. India and China account for nearly half of the overseas enrolment in the US.

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