It’s time for Govt to take notice of Indians flying abroad for education

The flyers are out and the data is intriguing, interesting and perturbing to the extent that it demands self-introspection by the Indian government. More and more number of Indian students are opting for education abroad. And while the trend was earlier restricted generally to post-graduate and doctoral studies, the latest statistics shows that even the undergraduates are jumping the gauntlet.

According to the latest report by Indian Survey Mobility Report – “Ever since the U.S started collating international student market data from over 50 years ago, spike in student traffic from India has been the highest ever. In 2015, 29.4% more students were from India compared to 2014.” The same report states that the international students from India crossed the 350,000 mark in 2015.

In fact, with the notable exception of UK, the numbers to the top 5 destination countries – USA, Australia, Canada, UK and New Zealand – grew in 2014 by 12.6%, while in 2015, they grew even faster at 17.8%. UK figures dwindled, but not too substantially. Not only that, more and more students are opting for destination, previously unheard and almost unimaginable like China, which according to the report witnessed a rise of almost 23% to 16,694 – approaching the number going to the UK, 18,320. According to Maria Mathai, Director of the M.M advisory services, which undertook the project, “China was a surprise.” While speaking to University World News, she also stated that most of the students visiting China go to pursue medical education and return to practice here.

Germany, another non-English speaking nation, grew by 24.3 percent to 16,694 and the current penchant for Indians suggests that it may soon surpass UK.

The undergraduates who were earlier not so significant in numbers in US saw an unprecedented 30 percent jump over 16,500 in 2015.

However, these statistics may suggest a growing standard of living among the Indians, there is a flip-side to the picture. Why not India? Why is that Indians, instead of choosing their own nation, opt for foreign universities at the first opportunities? There may be variegated explications on the questions but most logical conclusion which flows upon such consideration is the apathy of government towards higher education. Other factors such as lure of dollars, better lifestyle etc. may account as reason but the harrowing truth is that the country has failed, miserably, to produce world class universities.

Especially in humanities stream, not one university ( Jawaharlal Nehru University may be a solace) is considered at par with world standard and while science stream could boast of the IITs, TIFR and other select few, there’s still miles to cover.

Perhaps it is high time, that the government takes notice.

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