1 in 5 students prefer new destinations like Ireland, Turkey, Spain: Study

The study also found that students now prioritize the opportunity to travel and explore other cultures (43 per cent) over better job opportunities and better education
While the US, the UK, Canada and Australia remain the top four choices, newer destinations such as Germany, Italy, Ireland, Turkey, Russia and China are witnessing a significant rise in students heading to these countries, which were earlier not on the consideration list.

According to a study 'Education Overseas--An Evolving Journey' by leading cross-border, cross-currency money movement and payments provider Western Union, one in five (22 per cent) students now prefer new and unconventional study destinations such as Ireland, Turkey and Spain.

Commissioned by Western Union to NielsenIQ, the study was undertaken to understand the collective journey Indian families go through as they strive toward their child’s international education and a global future.

Among other key findings, areas of specialisation such as Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence, Digital Marketing, Cybersecurity, Ethical Hacking and Ecotechnology are taking precedence over traditional university courses for 52 per cent of students intending to study overseas. They seek courses that are niche, but slowly gaining importance, often looking beyond Ivy League Universities that are unable to offer these courses.

The findings highlight a considerable shift in perspective of how students and parents are now viewing options for education abroad. Per data available from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), students from over 70,000 families went abroad to study in the first two months of 2021, undeterred by the pandemic. As of January 2021, there were more than 1.09 million Indian students studying in 85 countries across the globe, as per the data accessed from MEA. Countries like China (29,600 students), Germany and France (10,000 students combined) also now have a considerable Indian student population.

Nearly half (45 per cent) of the student respondents prioritize ‘self-dependence’ and opportunities to ‘live life on their own terms’ as key motivations to explore international learning opportunities. Moreover, pandemic-induced hybrid learning is now mainstream with 46% actually preferring such a model.

  • 22% students prefer new destinations like Ireland, Turkey and Spain
  • 52% give precedence to courses like data analytics, artificial intelligence, digital marketing, cybersecurity, ethical hacking and ecotechnology
  • 45% prioritise “self-dependence” and opportunities to “live life on their own terms” as motivations to study abroad
  • 43% prioritise opportunity to travel and explore cultures over better job opportunities & education
  • 64% opt for countries/universities that do not have entrance exams or mandate English proficiency tests
  • 54% identify financial issues as topmost concern in studying abroad
The study also found that students now prioritize the opportunity to travel and explore other cultures (43 per cent) over better job opportunities and better education.

According to Sohini Rajola, Head of Middle East and Asia Pacific, Western Union, with its presence in over 200 countries and territories, students have reliable and convenient support from its global financial network. "Given that they are exploring newer avenues for education, we can make sure they continue to remain financially supported and connected at all times," added Rajola.

Western Union also found that outward remittances by resident Indians rose sequentially by 34 per cent since October 2020 with outflows for education picking up in the last quarter. Education related remittances accounted for over 30 per cent of India’s total outward remittances in FY 2020-21. Outward remittances for education saw 64 per cent year-on-year (YoY) growth, with $1.2 billion remitted between April-June 2021, up 5.3 per cent over January-March 2021.

In terms of challenges, qualifying exams remain a big barrier for students (64 per cent), leading to opting for countries/universities that do not have entrance exams or the mandatory English proficiency tests. On the other hand, parents expressed distress related to student loans with many worrying about repaying loans owing to the volatile nature of the current landscape. Money-related concerns, particularly budgeting and financial planning, were the key barriers expressed by both students and parents, as playing a key deciding factor in the entire process.

Over half (54 per cent) identified financial issues as the topmost concern while opting for an education abroad. This also reflected in their decision to opt for courses with a shorter duration (with 47 per cent of students preferring them) due to the high costs associated with studying abroad.

Meanwhile, three in four students surveyed looked for scholarships while selecting their course, due to high tuition fees.

Dear Reader,

Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel