Study Abroad – Over the last decade, the pursuit of international education has undergone a profound transformation in India. Traditionally, study abroad programs were predominantly opted by the affluent class due to high cost, the reputation linked to renowned universities, and limited accessibility.
Of late, this trend has taken a new turn as more and more Indian students from all sections of the society have begun to pursue their ambition for education overseas.
According to the Ministry of External Affairs, over 1.3 million Indian students pursued their studies abroad under various education programmes in the year 2022. The surge in Indian students pursuing their studies overseas has led to an increase in the number of education loans disbursed. This has ultimately added to the cycle of growth of the Indian economy.
Additionally, it has led to significant growth in the number of international institutions in India leading to the availability of an increased number of opportunities for global education without even leaving the country.
This article aims to provide valuable information on the factors driving this transformation and offer insights into the strategies and resources available for students aiming to pursue their studies abroad.
Why are the Indian Students Opting to Pursue their Studies Abroad?
In recent years, there has been a growing interest among the Indian students to pursue their studies overseas. This trend is contingent upon a number of factors, including global exposure, better career prospects, and an improved quality of education.
- Global Exposure: One of the main reasons why Indian students choose to pursue their studies abroad is to gain global exposure. Pursuing studies overseas allows students to experience interactions with different cultures, scholars, mentors, students from all over the world helping them expand their horizons.
- Better Career Prospects: Many international universities offer high-quality education and specialised programmes that are not available in India. Additionally, international degrees are often valued highly by employers in India and around the world.
- Improved Quality of Education: Top international universities offer cutting-edge research facilities, world-class faculty, and academic programmes rich in quality. This helps students develop the skills and knowledge they require in the pursuit of success.
Some of the specific domains and the benefits accruing to Indian students pursuing their studies abroad are as follows:
- Engineering: Students who pursue their studies overseas in the engineering domain gain exposure to cutting-edge research projects and latest technology. They have the opportunity to learn from world-renowned professors and scholars. This helps them develop the required knowledge and skills for matching employment opportunities in India as well as overseas.
- Business and Management: Students who pursue their business or management studies abroad have the opportunity to learn from experienced business leaders while gaining exposure to best global practices. This leads to honing of skills and sharpening of knowledge required to start their venture or land a job in a multinational corporation.
- Medicine: Students who pursue their overseas studies in medicine have the opportunity to learn from world-class doctors, scholars and researchers. This enhances their overall skills and knowledge in medicine which is key to becoming an accomplished medicine practitioner in India or abroad.
Impact of COVID-19 on Indian Study Abroad Ecosystem
According to a report by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, the number of Indian students studying abroad decreased from 7,57,273 in 2019-20 to 4,47,255 in 2020-21 leading to a downturn of over 40%.
While 5.8 lakh Indian students went to pursue their studies in other countries in 2019, it dipped to 2.59 lakh due to the pandemic in 2020. Even though the number rose in 2021, it was yet to catch up with the pre-pandemic levels.
The factors that contributed to this downturn in international education include the following:
- Travel restrictions: Many countries imposed travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, making it difficult for Indian students to travel abroad.
- Online learning: Universities switched to online learning, which was not an ideal scenario for all students.
- Financial difficulties: The pandemic caused financial hardship for many Indian families, making it difficult for them to afford the cost of overseas education.
However, of late, the number of Indian students pursuing their studies abroad has revealed an upward trend since 2021-22, with 6,82,223 students heading overseas. This represents an increase of over 50% over the data available for previous year. Key factors include eased travel restrictions, hybrid learning options, and improved financial stability.
Financial Aspect to Study Abroad
The cost of studying abroad can be a major barrier for Indian students. However, there has been an increase in loan applications for overseas education in recent years.
According to the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the outstanding portfolio under education loans grew 17 per cent at ₹96,847 crore in the year 2022-23 as against ₹82,723 crore in the previous year.
The total value of education loans disbursed for overseas education increased from ₹15,445.62 crore in 2021-22 to ₹23,576.02 crore in 2022-23. This represents an increase of over 50%.
This increase in education loan applications is due to a number of factors. They are as follows:
- Rising demand for education overseas
- Increasing availability of scholarship programmes
- Availability of external financial aid
Financial institutions have adapted to meet the growing demand for education loans for overseas education programmes.
The Buddy4Study Education Loan Programme offers Indian students a valuable opportunity to pursue their studies abroad. It provides education loans without requiring collateral, making education financing accessible to students from diverse financial backgrounds.
Buddy4Study Education Loan Programme
The Buddy4Study Education Loan Programme is the joint initiative of Buddy4Study and multiple education loan providers (banks and NBFCs) to provide financial support to Indian students who wish to pursue higher education abroad. The program offers collateral-free loans ranging from ₹1 lakh to ₹40 lakh, with competitive interest rates starting from 8.1% p.a.
Benefits of the Buddy4Study Education Loan Programme
The Buddy4Study Education Loan Programme offers a number of benefits to students. It includes the following:
- Collateral-free loans: Students can avail education loans under the programme without the need of collateral. This makes education loans more accessible to students from all financial backgrounds.
- Competitive interest rates: The programme offers competitive interest rates on education loans, starting from 8.1% p.a.
- Flexible repayment options: It offers flexible repayment options to students, so they can choose a repayment plan that suits their needs and budget.
- Quick and easy loan processing: The programme offers a quick and easy loan processing process, so students can get the funding they need quickly and easily.
- Significant Loan Amounts: It offers secured loans up to ₹2 crore with collateral.
- Tax Benefits on Interest: Beneficiaries can enjoy a 100% income tax benefit for interest paid under Section 80E of the IT Act, reducing financial burden.
How to Apply for a Buddy4Study Education Loan Programme?
To apply for a Buddy4Study Education Loan Programme, students can visit the official website of Buddy4Study and fill in the online application form.
The students are required to provide basic information about themselves, their educational background, and their financial situation. Every submitted application form is reviewed with due diligence. Once Buddy4Study has received all of the required documents, the loan application will be processed and sanctioned. The student will then receive the loan amount in their bank account.
Availability of Scholarships and Other Financial Aid Options
The applicants can also decide to explore alternative sources of financial support, such as scholarships and other forms of financial aid, to fund their international education. Some of the opportunities are listed below:
- Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship Programme: This program is offered by the US government to Indian scholars and professionals who wish to study, research, or teach in the United States.
- Chevening Scholarships: These scholarships are offered by the UK Government to Indian students who wish to pursue postgraduate studies at a recognized university in the UK.
- Aga Khan Foundation International Scholarship Programme: This program is offered by the Aga Khan Foundation to students from developing countries who wish to pursue postgraduate studies at a recognized university abroad.
- Rhodes Scholarship: This scholarship is awarded to meritorious students from all over the world who wish to pursue postgraduate studies at the University of Oxford.
In addition to scholarships and grants, there are a number of other financial aid options available to Indian students pursuing their studies abroad. These financial aid options include student loan programmes, work-study programmes, and teaching assistantships.
Most Preferable Countries to Study Abroad
In 2022, the top preferred destinations for Indian students to study abroad were the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, according to the Bureau of Immigration (BoI).
As per the QS World University Ranking 2023, the following countries are the most preferred destinations for Indian students willing to pursue their studies abroad:
The United States is the most popular destination for Indian students, with over 2,00,000 Indian students enrolled in US universities in 2022-23. There are a number of reasons why students choose to study in the US. They are as follows:
- High-quality education: US universities are known for their rigorous academic standards and their commitment to academic excellence. They also have access to state-of-the-art facilities and resources. This allows students to receive a high-quality education in their chosen disciplines.
- Wide range of educational opportunities: There are over 4,000 colleges and universities in the US, each with its own unique offerings. Students can choose to pursue careers in multiple domains, including engineering, business, medicine, law, the arts, and the humanities. They can also choose to study in different types of institutions, such as public universities, private universities, community colleges, and technical schools.
- Cutting-edge research facilities: The US universities have access to state-of-the-art laboratories, equipment, and resources. This allows students to work on cutting-edge research projects and learn from world-renowned scholars.
- Post-study work opportunities: The Optional Practical Training (OPT) program allows international students to work in the US for up to 12 months after completion of their graduation programme. Students can also apply for a STEM OPT extension, which allows them to work in the US for up to an additional 24 months.
- Graduates are in high demand in the US, especially in the fields of healthcare, film production, real estate, retail sector, agriculture, engineering, and computers & information technology.
Top Universities to Study in the US
|QS World University Ranking 2024
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
|California Institute of Technology (CalTech)
|University of Chicago
|University of Pennsylvania
Top Courses to Study in the US
Here are the top fields preferred by international students:
- Engineering and computer science courses
- Life science courses
- Business management courses
Cost of Living in the US
In the United States, the cost of living can fluctuate significantly owing to the country’s expansive geographical diversity. Typically, urban areas, particularly those in or near major cities, tend to be more expensive than smaller towns or suburban regions.
Consequently, in order to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the overall cost of living in the US, it is essential to take into account the following common expenses when formulating a budget:
|Average Cost (Yearly)
|Indian Rupees (Approx.)
|Books and Stationery
|₹41,632 – ₹83,265
|₹41,632 – ₹99,919
Some of the Scholarships to Avail for Studies in the US
- Aga Foundation Scholarship
- Dean’s Scholarship
- Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation Scholarships
- Sushil Jajodia Indian Student Scholarship
- Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholarships
Canada has a world-class education system, with its universities consistently ranking among the best in the world. In the QS World University Rankings 2023, three Canadian universities ranked in the top 100: the University of Toronto (26th), McGill University (31st), and the University of British Columbia (49th).
Canadian universities offer a wide range of programs, from undergraduate to postgraduate degrees and from professional programs to research degrees. Students can choose to study in a variety of fields, including business, engineering, science, medicine, and the arts.
- Affordable Tuition Fees: Tuition fees in Canada are generally lower than in other popular study destinations, such as the US and the UK. According to Statistics Canada, the average tuition fee for international students at Canadian universities is significantly lower than the average tuition fee for international students at US universities.
- Multicultural Environment: Canada is a multicultural country with a welcoming environment for international students. Over 21% of Canada’s population is foreign-born and with over 200 ethnic groups. This diversity is reflected in the student bodies of Canadian universities, where international students make up over 20% of the total student population.
- Post-study Work Opportunities: The Canadian government offers post-study work opportunities to international students. This allows students to gain valuable work experience in Canada after they graduate. The length of the post-study work permit depends on the student’s program of study. Students who complete a program of study that is two years or longer are eligible for a post-study work permit equal to the length of their program of study, up to a maximum of three years.
Top Universities to Study in Canada
- University of Toronto
- McGill University
- University of British Columbia
- University of Alberta
- University of Waterloo
- Western University
- Université de Montréal
- University of Calgary
- McMaster University
- University of Ottawa
Top Courses to Study in Canada
These are the most popular fields of study among international students in Canada:
- Business & Finance
- Computer Science & Information Technology
- Health & Medicine
- Media & Journalism
Cost of Living in Canada
- Accommodation: Accommodation expenses constitute a major portion of the overall costs for students in Canada. The cost of accommodation can fluctuate significantly based on factors such as the city, the type of housing, and the number of bedrooms. Typically, students should budget for monthly rent ranging from 400 to 2000 Canadian Dollars (CAD).
- Food: Students can expect to pay between 400 CAD and 600 CAD per month for groceries. In addition, students should budget for additional money for eating out and buying snacks.
- Transportation: Students can expect to pay between 100 CAD and 200 CAD per month for transportation costs. This includes the cost of public transport, gas, and parking.
Overall, the students can expect to pay between 20,000 CAD and 30,000 CAD per year for living expenses.
United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a popular destination for Indian students, offering a top-notch education.
It has a diverse culture, with considerable employment opportunities. However, Indian students must carefully decide on the budget meant for their studies, considering the relatively high cost of living.
Accommodation: Accommodation is one of the biggest expenses for Indian students studying abroad in the UAE. The cost of accommodation varies depending on the location, type of housing, and amenities offered.
Food: Food costs can also be high in the UAE, especially if students eat out frequently.
Transportation: Transportation costs vary depending on where students live and how they choose to get around.
Other Expenses: Other expenses that students may need to budget include tuition fees, visa costs, health insurance, and entertainment. Tuition fees vary depending on the university and the programme of study.
Total Cost of Living: The total cost of living in the UAE for Indian students studying abroad can vary depending on their lifestyle and spending habits. However, a good estimate is 5,000-7,000 AED per month.
Top Universities to Study for Indian Students in UAE
Here are some of the top universities in the UAE that are popular with Indian students:
- Khalifa University (KU)
- New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD)
- Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (Masdar)
- American University of Sharjah (AUS)
- University of Sharjah (UoS)
- Heriot-Watt University Dubai (HWUD)
- Manipal Academy of Higher Education Dubai (MAHE Dubai)
- BITS Pilani Dubai Campus (BITS Pilani Dubai)
- Amity University Dubai (AUD)
- University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD)
- Middlesex University Dubai (MUD)
Top Courses for Indian Students to Study in UAE
- Business Management
- Computer Science
- Media and Communications
- Hospitality and Tourism
Scholarships for Indian Students to Study in UAE
There are a number of scholarship programmes available to Indian students who wish to study in the UAE. Here are some of the most popular scholarship programmes:
- UAE Government Scholarships: The UAE government offers a number of scholarships to Indian students to pursue undergraduate, postgraduate, and doctoral studies.
- Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) Scholarships: ADGM offers scholarships to Indian students to pursue postgraduate studies in finance, law, and other related fields at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD).
- Masdar Institute Scholarships: Masdar Institute offers scholarships to Indian students to pursue postgraduate studies in renewable energy and sustainability.
- AUS Scholarships: The American University of Sharjah (AUS) offers a number of scholarships to Indian students to pursue undergraduate and postgraduate studies in a variety of fields. Some of the most popular AUS scholarships for Indian students include the following:
- AUS Undergraduate Scholarship
- AUS Postgraduate Scholarship
- AUS Merit Scholarship
- AUS Financial Aid Scholarship
- AUS Extracurricular Scholarship
- UoS Scholarships: The University of Sharjah (UoS) offers a number of scholarships to Indian students to pursue undergraduate and postgraduate studies in a variety of fields. UoS also offers a number of scholarships to Indian students, including:
- UoS Undergraduate Scholarship
- UoS Postgraduate Scholarship
- UoS Research Scholarship
Australia is currently one of the most popular destinations for international students. The country is known for its top-class infrastructure, quality medical and healthcare facilities, advanced transportation, and reasonably affordable housing.
Why do Indian Students Prefer Australia to Study Abroad?
Following factors make it a popular choice:
- High Quality Education
- Affordable Tuition Fees
- Post-study Work Opportunities
- Variety of Courses
- Support Services
Scholarships for Indian Students to Study in Australia
There are a number of scholarships available to Indian students who wish to study in Australia. The Australian government, universities, and other organisations offer these scholarships.
- Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP): This scholarship is offered to high-achieving international students who wish to pursue postgraduate research in Australia.
- Endeavour Postgraduate Awards: These awards are offered to high-achieving international students who wish to pursue postgraduate studies in Australia.
- Australia Awards Scholarships: These scholarships are extended to students from developing countries who wish to pursue undergraduate or postgraduate studies in Australia.
Preferred Courses and Colleges
The most popular courses for Indian students to study in Australia include the following:
- Business Management
- Computer science
- Information technology
The most popular universities for Indian students to study in Australia include:
- University of Melbourne
- University of Sydney
- University of New South Wales
- Queensland University of Technology
- Monash University
Saudi Arabia is a popular study-abroad destination for Indian students due to its high-quality education, affordable tuition fees, and post-study work opportunities. The country is also home to a number of world-class universities, such as King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, King Abdulaziz University, and King Saud University.
Expenses Associated with Education for Indian Students in Saudi Arabia
The cost of living in Saudi Arabia can be high, especially in major cities such as Riyadh and Jeddah.
- Tuition Fees: Tuition fees vary depending on the university and the program of study. However, Indian students can expect to pay between SAR 10,000 and SAR 60,000 per year in tuition fees.
- Cost of Living: The cost of living in Saudi Arabia varies depending on the city and the lifestyle of the student. However, Indian students can expect to spend between SAR 5,000 and SAR 10,000 per month on living expenses. This includes the cost of accommodation, food, transportation, and other miscellaneous expenses.
Scholarships for Indian Students in Saudi Arabia
There are a number of scholarships available to Indian students who wish to study in Saudi Arabia. The most popular scholarships include the following:
- King Abdullah Scholarship Programme: This scholarship is open to Indian students who wish to pursue undergraduate or postgraduate studies at a recognized university in Saudi Arabia. The scholarship covers the full cost of tuition and fees, and offers a living stipend.
- Saudi Aramco Scholarship Programme: This scholarship is open to Indian students who wish to pursue undergraduate or postgraduate studies in engineering, science, or business at a recognized university in Saudi Arabia. The scholarship covers the full cost of tuition and fees, and offers a living stipend.
- Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) Scholarship: This scholarship is open to Indian students who wish to pursue undergraduate or postgraduate studies at a recognized university in Saudi Arabia. The scholarship includes the complete coverage of tuition and fees, and offers a living stipend.
Popular Colleges and Courses in Saudi Arabia
Popular Colleges and Courses includes the following:
- King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals
- King Abdulaziz University
- King Saud University
Popular Courses are:
- Business Management
Indian Study Abroad Visa Process
A student visa is an official travel document usually stamped onto the passport of the bearer and allows the student to legally enter a foreign country. A student visa can be of multiple types. The student visa types vary with each country, and each visa may either vary per course level or based on the study period of the applicant.
The Indian study abroad visa process can be complex and time-consuming, but it is important to follow procedures carefully in order to avoid any delay.
- Apply to a university or college in the country where one wishes to study. Once students have been accepted to a program, they will receive a letter of acceptance from the institution.
- Gather all the required documents. This will vary depending on the country one is applying to, but the most common documents include:
- A valid passport
- A letter of acceptance from the university or college
- Proof of financial support
- A medical certificate
- A police clearance certificate
- Schedule an appointment at the embassy or consulate of the country where one is applying. Here, the student will submit the application and documents and be interviewed by a visa officer.
- Pay the visa application fee. This fee varies depending on the country one is applying to. Upon approval of the visa, students will be granted a visa stamp in their passport.
*Schengen Area – The Schengen Area is a region of 27 European countries that have abolished passport and other types of border control at their mutual borders. This means that people can travel freely between these countries without having to show their passports or go through other border checks.
Study Abroad – FAQs
Q1: What are the most popular study-abroad destinations for Indian students?
A: The most popular study-abroad destinations for Indian students are the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand. These countries offer high-quality education, diverse cultures, and post-study work opportunities.
Q2: What are the eligibility requirements for Indian students to study abroad?
A: The eligibility requirements for Indian students to study abroad vary depending on the country and programme. However, most programmes require students to have a strong academic record, proficiency in English, and sufficient financial resources.
Q3: How can one finance the study abroad education?
A: There are a number of ways to finance study-abroad education, including availing opportunities offered by scholarship and education loan programmes, and personal savings. Many Indian students also rely on financial support from their families.
Q4: What are the useful and valuable tips for Indian students adjusting to life abroad?
A: To facilitate a smooth transition, Indian students should keep in mind the following:
- They should remain open-minded and respectful of the local culture.
- They should make an effort to learn the local language.
- They should involve themselves in extracurricular as well as club activities.
- Connecting with other international students is always a new learning experience.
- Seeking support and guidance from the academic institution and student services is always helpful.
Q5: What is the study-abroad ecosystem for Indian students?
A: The study abroad ecosystem meant for Indian students is the comprehensive network of opportunities and resources that enable them to pursue their education abroad. This ecosystem encompasses various aspects, including study abroad programs, scholarships, visa procedures, academic institutions, and support services tailored to Indian students.
Q6: How can one select the most suitable study abroad programme meant for Indian students?
A: To select the ideal programme, individuals should consider their academic objectives, preferred destination, budget, and personal preferences. They can conduct research on available programmes, review scholarship options, and consult with study abroad consultants for guidance on making an informed choice.
Q7: What are the common mistakes Indian students should avoid while selecting a study abroad programme?
A: Common mistakes to be avoided include inadequate planning, overlooking scholarship opportunities, ignoring visa requirements, and underestimating cultural adjustments etc. Proper research and guidance can help individuals avoid these pitfalls.
Q8: Are there different types of study abroad programmes meant for Indian students?
A: Yes, a range of study abroad programmes are available for Indian students, including short-term exchanges, full-degree programs, internships, and research opportunities. The choice depends on the academic and career goals of the individuals.
Q9: When should one plan their journey for study abroad programmes?
A: It is advisable for individuals to begin planning at least a year in advance, particularly for full-degree programs. They should do research on available programs, prepare application materials, and meet deadlines for scholarship and admission programmes.
Q10: How can study abroad programs enhance the career prospects of Indian students?
A: Engaging in study abroad programs can broaden horizons, improve language skills, and expose Indian students to international networks. These experiences can significantly enhance career opportunities, making them more appealing to employers in a globalised world.