A survey of heads of more than 100 secondary schools in India has suggested a new reality is taking shape in the international education priorities of Indian students.

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Carried out by market intelligence firm M.M Advisory Services, the survey confirms trends for outbound Indian students: the US is the top destination, and engineering and computer science are the most popular subjects.

“Undergraduate interest in India has been gradually increasing in the past few years”

However, underlying these market traits are shifts in preference away from typically popular postgraduate programmes towards bachelor’s degrees, life sciences and different destinations.

“In general, studying abroad is becoming an attractive option because of the rising numbers of affluent middle class in India,” Maria Mathai, director of M.M, told The PIE News.

“There has always been a dearth of high quality education institutions in the country to cater to the large population so existing domestic institutions have not been able to meet the demand for higher education.”

Earlier this year, the company released a student mobility report that showed India’s growth rate of outbound students overtook China’s for the first time.

“We believe the Indian market is reaching an inflexion point soon where there is going to be a bigger spike in international students from India, just as it happened in China in the past decade or so,” she commented.

What the future Indian students and their parents want could be very different from the graduate school seekers of today.

The survey was completed by heads of schools, international baccalaureate or academic coordinators and career counsellors at residential or day schools across the country.

Screen Shot 2015-11-11 at 17.25.04Almost half of the respondents said more than 75% of students who are planning to study abroad are interested in bachelor’s programmes. Only 19% of those students were planning for master’s study.

“Undergraduate interest in India has been gradually increasing in the past few years. But now the momentum has really picked up,” remarked Mathai.

Rising middle class incomes and aspirations, easier availability of information and options and more aggressive marketing by foreign universities in India in the past few years are all contributing to the change in preference, Mathai said.

“We estimate the bachelor’s market to keep growing aggressively over the next few years, and may perhaps come to account for 50% of the total international education market in the near future. Currently it’s about 30%.”

Ninety percent of respondents said students’ preferred subject to study is engineering, but business commerce was mentioned by 87%, putting it before computer science and IT, listed by 80% of respondents.

Humanities & arts and biology, biotechnology & life science were each listed by 50% of respondents, more than typically popular subjects medicine, dentistry & pharmacy (37%).

“The sharply declining numbers to the UK has made Indian students look more westwards, towards Canada”

Regional breakdowns show degree interest varies across the country. Southern Indians who plan to study abroad are more interested in bachelor’s degrees, the survey found; while students in the west, where business hubs like Maharashtra and Gujara are, MBAs are the most popular.

After the US, the UK was the second most preferred study destination, as expected. However, Canada was shown to be the most popular third choice for students, despite Australia’s recent growth in numbers.

“The biggest reason has been the decline of Australia as a popular destination a few years back, which provided the initial opportunity for Canada,” explained Mathai.

“Then, in the last two years, the sharply declining numbers to the UK has made Indian students look more westwards, towards Canada,” she added, but said Australia’s recent resurgence will give Canada stiff competition for the third place spot.

Beyond the top four, Singapore and Germany are preferred over New Zealand.

While the report only surveys educators at affluent schools where students would be more predisposed to overseas study, it notes that recruitment outreach efforts to secondary schools are lacking.

“The survey provides a clear direction for universities interested in more undergraduate students from India,” remarked Mathai.

“They should reach out to secondary schools, especially the more affluent ones with higher disposable income for parents, to build their university’s brand.”

[Source:-The Pie News]

By Adam