Every year scores of students go abroad to study and this number seems to be increasing every year. The US, UK, Australia, New Zealand are the preferred destinations sought for higher studies by students. Why is it that Indian students are opting to spend more money to study in foreign universities? Is it the lure of prestige, better career prospects or higher quality of education?
India has many premier institutions such as IITs, NITs, IISc, IIMs, BITS Pilani and JNU. Higher education in India is affordable and the cost of education is cheaper than in many countries. Students routinely do very well in their exams often scoring more than 90%. Students with an underprivileged background can also seek admission at top institutions. And these institutions do prepare students for careers. Then why is that a steady stream of students still drift towards foreign universities for their higher education?
Most students say that the quality of education, the campus and learning experience is much superior in a foreign university. If that is so, we have to ask ourselves why it is that India is not at par with international levels of education? What is missing and how can we rectify the problem.
Indian students who are studying abroad say that there are many reasons for dubbing Indian education poor as compared to other countries.
Indian education is more theory-based rather than practical thus creativity is not at all encouraged. Education is based on rote-learning and is exam-oriented. Indian students are required to memorize facts and figures, thousands of equations of mathematics, birth dates and death dates of freedom fighters, chemical reactions and formulas of other things, even if they may not be relevant later. The learning is for the purpose of giving exams only. There is no focus at all on experimental learning, practical implementations or an innovative approach towards theory. Students study only to score marks and sometimes to crack exams like IIT, JEE etc.
Education thus becomes a mere formality. The acquisition of a degree does not equate with real learning. In foreign countries education is taken as an in-depth and meaningful learning process.
In foreign universities, education is given and absorbed by practical measures. There is more hands on experience and thus the learning acquired is real and has depth. The focus is on application-based learning, purposeful research, changing with industry norms, 24×7 library and lab facilities, super fast WiFi on the campus and faculty support.
Students acquire knowledge through research-oriented assignments and project work. The aim is to make the students independent and themselves responsible for their learning.
Foreign education curriculum includes everything from arts to sports along with studies. The US has arts, sports, music, and theatre in syllabus. Australia focuses more on sports; they have cricket, hockey, and boxing in their college curriculum, whereas the Indian education system only emphasises on studies. There is no room for the extra-curricular in our education system.
In India education is becoming a mere business. Private schools, colleges, tutoring and coaching institute have become the source of good money so they are being run more by business minds than highly motivated people who are anxious to improve the state of education in our country.
In India, it also seems that the choices in fields of interest are very limited. Apart from producing doctors and engineers by the dozens, there does not seem any scope for other streams. It’s either arts or commerce. What other option is there?
In India, the focus of studies is job-based. Will I get a better job after I get this degree? Will I get a higher placement – seems to be the criteria for selecting a stream of study. For those who are more discerning and who want to advance their field of interest like arts, choose foreign universities so that they can acquire relevant and meaningful education in the subject close to their heart.
In India, students follow the trends instead of their personal and individual interests. The education system is still based on the outdated British model and hasn’t changed much after independence. The latest technologies in curriculum are not easily adopted. In foreign universities, the curriculum is changed frequently and reflects the changes in technology and requirements of the industry.
And lastly, we believe in grades and certificates more than we do in really educating ourselves. We believe in taking admission in IITs and IIMs. Foreign countries believe in skills and the actual learning acquired.
The faculty in Indian colleges are neither trained well nor do they have that much knowledge. Teachers are not motivated as individuals to create a lasting impact on their wards.
Teacher themselves are not too curious. That is because they are the products of the same old, stagnant system of learning. Today technology is changing very quickly and teachers themselves are not trained to keep pace with that kind of change. Nobody makes the effort to change old and outdated syllabi.
Apart from these comparisons, many students are attracted by the high-end research and lab facilities available in foreign universities. In India, there is a dearth of resources and whatever resources are available often go unused or are wasted out of negligence or ignorance.
They are also attracted by the prospects of courses that match one’s range of interests, the uniqueness of programmes, a safe atmosphere, and the good reputation of a university.
Indian students who move to a foreign country, after having studied in India often experience an ‘academic shock’ because the methods of teaching and learning are so different from what they have been accustomed to. They do not always find the transition easy. Getting oneself accustomed to the new, open education system takes time. It can be tough but they get used to it quickly and gain confidence.
The courses are flexible and the pace of learning can be altered according to one’s choice. The universities are also very helpful in providing support to international students.
All in all, students find their experience in a new environment very positive. They gain more insight about their own interests, capabilities, and weaknesses that must be tackled. They gain confidence and widen their horizons by interacting with students of different countries, joining different clubs and getting involved in various co-curricular activities.