Indian students have been attending universities in the United States, Britain, Canada and Australia for many years.
But now that much of the country is facing economic problems, students from low-income rural families are arriving. They collect as much money as possible and ask the universities admission.
Sachin is a 19-year-old college student who only uses one name. He spoke to Reuters news agency about his future.
“My dream is to settle down abroad because I don’t see a future in India,” he said.
Sachin’s father withdrew all his money from the bank and also got a loan so his son could get a student visa to attend college in Canada. The money, over $25,000, went to an agency called Western Overseas which helps students learn English and gain permission to study abroad.
Sachin plans to go to Canada for a two-year business study program. He hopes that once there, the company diploma will help him get a job and a work visa.
He said Canada places fewer restrictions on students staying on the job after completing a school program compared to the United States and Britain.
Sachin thinks the financial risk is worth it. He has two friends in Canada who work while going to school. They earn about $900 a month through part-time work.
Increase the number of students
Government agencies and education companies track the number of international students in countries like the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. They said there were around one million Indian students studying abroad in the first part of 2022.
This number is twice as high as before the COVID-19 pandemic restricted international travel. And it is likely to continue to rise.
For one, a new trade deal between India and Australia means it will be easier for Indian students to study in places like Sydney.
Moreover, education experts believe that universities are more interested in Indian students than before. This is because it is more difficult for Chinese students to travel. COVID-19 related restrictions are still in place in China due to its zero COVID policy.
Tuition fees are rising
But the path to success in another country is not easy. The first problem is that many countries have trouble processing student visas. Many visa offices have reduced working hours or stopped holding student visas interviews during the first part of the pandemic.
And the cost of attendance is extremely high even if a student is accepted to a university in another country. Nitika Mishra is a broadcasting student in London, Ontario. Mishra said international students have to pay three times the amount Canadian students pay.
“It’s a huge sum,” Mishra said. “Especially when it becomes converted back to indian currency.”
And the value of the Indian rupee has fallen by seven percent this year.
worth the risk
Many Indians see college abroad as their best chance for a better life. They consider it worth the risk. In the past, joining the military seemed like a good idea. But India recently slashed military salaries and job security.
For example, India no longer promises lifetime employment to soldiers. The government has also reduced advantages offered to the military.
The changes sparked protests earlier this year and caused many young people to rethink their job plans.
Vijay Chauhan is 18 years old. He has already thought about joining the army and even went to take an entrance test.
But now I don’t see motivation join,” he said. He is currently taking English lessons at Western Overseas. He sees no future in staying in India.
“There’s no option but to leave India,” he said.
More than marketing?
In the past, young Indians without a lot of money may not have been aware of the possibility of going to school. But with more and more people getting internet service, they get information about visa companies like Western Overseas.
Some students travel to information events at hotels in major cities to inquire about study opportunities. Others can watch events hosted via video call.
At one event, over 500 students gathered to hear about universities in Australia and Canada. Gagandeep Singh went with his daughter, Jashandeep Kuar, who was accepted into some Australian universities.
She said her focus was on the University of Canberra, where her sister went to study pharmacy, the job of providing the drugs and medicines doctors need for their patients.
Bhupesh Sharma is Marketing Manager for Western Overseas. Sharma said the company uses Facebook and other social media services to talk about its successes.
The company has sent nearly 1,000 students to school in other countries. Company leader Pradeep Baliyan said he hopes to send 5,000 students abroad this year. The company has offices in nine major cities in India, as well as in Canada and Australia.
Companies like Western Overseas see the opportunity to attract more customers as there are currently two big problems for young people in India. The country struggles to provide enough higher education for its 300 million students and, for those who do not go to school, there is not enough work.
This is a bigger problem for women, as only 25% of women in India are employed. Young people see that many companies have reduced the number of good jobs in recent years.
Canadian universities are successful in attracting Indian students. They work with international education companies like Australia-based ApplyBoard and IDP Education to find students.
David Tubbs is Director of Marketing Communications at ApplyBoard. He said the company is in contact with Canadian universities on one side and Indian visa agencies on the other.
Canada had the second highest number of Indian students last year. That’s more than Australia and Britain, but around 300,000 fewer students than the US
But this number may change because many Indian families are doing well sending their children to Canada.
Universities are cheaper there and job opportunities are good.
Rahul Oswal runs an education company called Wisdom Overseas.
He says there is a “Rush» Indian students coming to Canada.
“The ease of obtaining permanent residency has become a big draw,” he said.
I am Jill Robbins. And I’m Dan Friedell.
Dan Friedell adapted this story for VOA Learning English based on a Reuters report.
words in this story
admission -not. the process of accepting someone into a school
abroad –adv. in a foreign country
diploma -not. a document showing that a study program has been completed
interview -not. a meeting where people talk to each other for information
convert -v. change into another form or species
currency -not. the official currency of a country
motivation -not. a reason to do something
option -not. a choice that can be made
benefit to -not. money or something else that is provided as compensation in exchange for work for a company, government, or group
Rush -v. a situation where a large number of people travel to do an activity at around the same time
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