Indian Students Studying Abroad At increasingly High Rates
India has the highest number of emigrants in the form of students going abroad to study.
Indian nationals have become the largest group of emigrants, leaving their home country at increasingly high rates. More than 18 million Indian people were living outside the country in 2020. That number showed dramatic growth over the course of the last 20 years; while there was an overall increase of people living outside their countries of birth between 2000 and 2020, the number of Indian-born people living outside the country grew by 10 million.
These Indian emigrants have spread throughout Europe and North America, primarily, with many leaving to pursue higher education or better work opportunities.
By the numbers: Indian students abroad
The Reserve Bank of India reports that more Indian students are studying abroad than ever before. More than 750,000 Indian students were reported to be studying in foreign schools in 2018, according to the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. Based on the numbers, India has the second highest number of students learning abroad – behind China – and its population of students leaving the country to study is the fastest-growing contingent of outbound students in the world.
Because of the high number of Indians within the university or pre-university age range, the number of Indian students travelling abroad is expected to continue to see dramatic growth. Currently, there are an estimated 88.5 million senior secondary students, aged 15 to 18, in India, along with 35 million university students. Because of the intense competition to get into India’s most lucrative universities, many of those students are expected to seek education abroad.
Top destinations for Indian emigrants
Generally, destination choices for Indian students are driven by work opportunities – both while in school and beyond graduation – as well as the quality of the education received. Based on that, Indian immigrants can be found throughout Europe and North America, where universities are ranked highest in their ability to prepare students to be leaders within their fields and within their communities.
In all, Europe hosts the highest number of immigrants from all parts of the world, with a total of 87 million immigrants hailing from a variety of countries, and in Europe, Indian immigrants were the third highest national group for first-residency permits. North America is the second most popular destination, with 59 million immigrants. For Indian immigrants specifically, top destination countries include the United Arab Emirates, with 3.5 million Indian immigrants; the United States of America, with 2.7 million Indian immigrants; Saudi Arabia with 2.5 million Indian immigrants; and Canada and the United Kingdom, with Indian immigrant populations of about 1.6 million.
Gaining access to foreign universities and jobs
While most Indian students attend university abroad, student visas are the most common route to immigration. But student visas aren’t the only – or even potentially the best – option. Many Indian families are taking a proactive approach to immigration by looking to make citizenship and residency inroads into European or North American countries knowing that children may want to attend universities or seek jobs abroad. In the United States, the EB-5 visa program offers Green Card status to foreign investors. Those Green Cards can help students gain access to U.S. universities and better career opportunities. Similarly, Portugal’s Golden Visa program grants investors permanent residency status within the European Union. By taking advantage of such opportunities, families can be ready for college or job applications and increase their chances of success because of their visa status.
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