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Advertise Articles on Studying abroad >> Indian Student Associations >> Education Abroad >> Article

There are two distinct trends shaping up: On one hand, the US and European governments are tightening visa and travel restrictions, on the other hand, demand for western education has seen a marked surge from around the globe. To cater to this demand, universities and educational institutions are offering distance education, part-time educational courses and, e-learning and online degrees. This section of presents a glimpse into the options available to global students who wish to avail of world-class education without travelling half-way across the globe.

Articles on Distance Education / Articles on Part-Time Degree Courses / Articles on Online Education / Links / Online Courses from Universities  / Indian Student Associations

Admission alert 

The recent US Council of Graduate Schools report shows a 5% decline in international graduate student applications from 2004 to 2005. Significantly, declines are particularly notable for students from China (-13%) and India (-9%) and students in the fields of engineering (-7%) and business (-8%). So does this really mean that the US is losing its popularity as a destination for Indian students?

This may not really be case, feel experts. Says Vijaya Khandavilli, educational advisor, Usefi, New Delhi: “The fall in numbers of applications to institutions first of all is very different from the numbers of students who apply for US student visas. The fall in applications could well be because students are now choosy and are applying to fewer graduate schools. The Indian economy is on a high and many students are opting for jobs after college and taking a few years to decide to go to the US for graduate studies. We have seen this trend at the US education fairs of the average age of students going up to about 25-26.

They are in fact taking informed decisions and more time to think about graduate studies in the US. What is also noticeable is the fact that the students these days are very well informed and don’t send of applications to 10-15 institutions in a hurry since applications have become expensive. They carefully choose a couple of institutions and apply only to those. ”

“Thus while fewer applications may not mean lower enrolments, the acceptance rate has become a good indicator when it comes to college rankings. Also while funds are drying up for masters programmes, more are available for PhD studies. Increasingly, there are more undergraduate scholarships, too, available in a greater number of colleges,” she adds.

The CGS report showed that the top 25 institutions with the most international student enrolment showed only a 2% decline in applications. The overall visa numbers for Indian students on F-1 visas last year went up to 5,063 in '04, against 5,019 visas issued in the previous year.

In fact, late last year, a report on Foreign Student And Scholar Enrolment and Visa Trends noted that there were decreases in the number of new international students who missed the first day on campus due to visa delays.

In India, the US Embassy and consulates have also been stepping up efforts to ensure that students applying for visas don’t face delays or long queues. Last year, during the busy seasons Indian students received visa appointments within two weeks, while most other applicants waited six weeks for an interview date.

“The US consular section has been facilitating the visa process for students with various measures including operating more windows and increasing staff,” says Khandavilli. On the issue of greater global competition from various other countries, she feels that other countries too like Australia and UK have been showing an overall decline in foreign student enrolments.  “However, a few like Singapore have shown some increase in enrolments of Indian students ,” she adds. The optional practical training that foreign students in the US have for one year is very attractive.

“As employment opportunities in the US improve, the OPT possibilities are improving too. In fact, for students, OPT is more important than H-1B visas,” feels Khandavilli.

 Concern over reports like the Graduate Education and American Competitiveness survey which shows that first-time international graduate enrolments have been declining, coupled with the growing importance of India internationally, has led to an increase in the marketing activities by even Ivy League US colleges in India.

“The big names don’t yet join the fairs that we organise many like Yale, Purdue and MIT are sending top officials like presidents, deans and student delegations to India. Such visits often result in below the line marketing while many institutions also use their alumni networks to reach out to Indian students,” feels Khandavilli.

And for the Indian undergrad students, she feels that a good option is transfer admissions. “That way, students can save time and money. Transfer often also gives them independence of changing fields,” she adds.

Agrees Susan Whipple, assistant director of international programmes, Marquette University, Wisconsin: “If the programme is officially recognised by the concerned US university a transfer while doing the graduate degree in India could be a very flexible option. Depending on the course, syllabus and the affiliation, credits could be given for previous coursework. Such students can also be considered for scholarships.”  

On the issue of visa issues putting foreign students off US education, Whipple feels that, increasingly, students with 1-20 forms from colleges are finding it much easier to get US student visas. Ishani Duttagupta Times News Network[ March 27, 2005]

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