Australia emerges preferred destination for Indian students
Indian students are increasingly opting for admission to Australian colleges as the US and the UK appear to be shutting their doors with anti-immigrant rhetoric and tighter rules that make it difficult to stay on after the course is over. The number of Indian students studying in Australia has soared to a seven-year high, according to data from the country's high commission in New Delhi.
Australian universities such as New South Wales, Deakin, Bond, James Cook, Canberra and Queensland said they had a bumper 2017, going by the increase in Indian applicants. While Indian students have usually confined themselves largely to the states of New South Wales and Victoria, they are now looking at destinations like Queensland and Melbourne as well, the high commission said.
As of November 2017, more than 68,000 Indian students were studying in Australian institutions, up 14.65% over the same period in 2016 (January-November). In January-December 2016, Australia had 60,013 Indian students, a growth of 12% over the previous year, according to the high commission. Experts said the rise in numbers is also due to a warmer welcome in Australia for Indian students.
"The approach that the Australian government has to education is similar to what Switzerland has to tourism," said Narayanan Ramaswamy, partner and head, education and skill development, KPMG in India. "US has visa restrictions; it is not even sure whether they want more people. Australia, on the other hand, is sending out a clear message: We want more people who are hungry, who can contribute to the economy. It will be a big pull factor as far as Australia is concerned."
In contrast, the US saw a decline in the number of Indian students. International graduate applications and first-time graduate enrollment of Indian students at US institutions declined by 15% and 13%, respectively, from Fall 2016 to Fall 2017, continuing the recent trend of declining growth rates, said a Council of Graduate Schools study.
Though the UK has seen a 27% rise in the number of long-term study visas issued to Indian nationals to 14,081, according to home office data issued on November 30, 2017, that's a long way off the peak of 60,000-plus in September 2010.
Canada has also seen a surge in interest from Indian students. About 52,870 Indian study permit holders went to Canada in 2016; the number had risen to 54,425 until October 2017, ET reported on December 30.
Deakin University vice chancellor and president Jane den Hollander AO told ET that more Indians are now seeking admission at the institution for undergraduate programmes. At the University of New South Wales, the past two-three years have seen continued double-digit growth of Indian students. Similarly, Deakin University has seen a 50% jump in Indian students this year from two years ago.
The courses that Indians prefer at Deakin are engineering, information technology, management, accounting, international finance, commerce, public health and information systems, among others.
At Bond University, Indian students rose 20% in 2017.
"In general, more Indian students have been considering Australia as a viable and preferred study destination," said Lisa Cowan, Bond University's director, international. Consultants report a rise in inquiries for Australia, attributing this to the immigration policies in the US and the UK, following the advent of Donald Trump and Brexit. James Cook University's spokesperson told ET that it's witnessing a 10-12% increase in Indian students. "We've seen lots of interest in our top undergraduate programmes.
India is the second-largest source for international students after China," he said.
The Australian Department of Home Affairs said the number of Indian students granted a visa to study in Australia grew 14.6% to 68,227 students in FY17. Applications of Indian students to the University of Canberra nearly doubled last year from 2016.
In a recently concluded study by Pearson for PTE Academic, a computer-based language test for English language proficiency, Australia emerged as the new preferred destination. The study said applicants from Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat and Punjab show the strongest desire to study at an Australian university.
Growth in Indian student mobility underscores the deepening of Australia's bilateral and regional engagement with the country, said Caitlin Byrne, director of the Griffith Asia Institute, Griffith University, Queensland
"Incoming Indian students continue to engage in areas of traditional demand, such as engineering and IT," Byrne said. "However, there is also growing interest in programmes that reflect India's changing context and increasing emphasis on social development, including health and architecture."
The University of Queensland has registered an increase in the number of Indian applications in 2018. The area with the largest amount of growth and the highest number of applicants is postgraduate coursework.
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