Majority Of Indian Students Still Plan On Pursuing Graduate Studies Abroad In 2021

Galvanize Test Prep polled thousands of students across the country to understand the impact of COVID-19 on their study abroad plans for graduate programs such as MS, MBA and PhD.

The COVID-19 pandemic this year has disrupted normal life and well laid-out plans in all spheres of life. Higher education, specifically plans for pursuing graduate degrees abroad, was one such area with the potential for significant disruption due to global lockdowns as well as travel and visa restrictions that were put in place around the world. Galvanize Test Prep polled thousands of students across the country to understand the impact of COVID-19 on their study abroad plans for graduate programs such as MS, MBA and PhD. While in March, when COVID-19 hit, students were uncertain about the study abroad future, the good news is that, in the longer-term, it appears that plans to study abroad are largely on-track.

Longer-term Study Abroad Plans on Track

The survey most important finding was that COVID-19 does not seem to have negatively impacted students’ longer-term study abroad plans. 89% of those surveyed still plan on pursuing their studies abroad in Spring and Fall 2021 semesters. 73% stated better job opportunities driven by the strong brand value of a degree from a globally-recognized university as the main reason for continuing with their plans. The availability of more options and specializations for study in universities abroad was also an attraction with 20% stating it as a key factor. Universities abroad offer a variety of degree options and within a specific program, students can choose from a wide range of electives. This flexibility seems to be appealing to students compared to the more rigid course structures in India.

Riding out Recessionary Climate by Upskilling

Another interesting finding from the study was that, due to the current recessionary trends in the Indian and global economies on account of COVID, 56% of students surveyed considered earning a graduate degree abroad as a smart way to ride out the current recession and upskill themselves for their future careers. This is in direct contrast to the early days of COVID-19 when many students were leaning towards staying back in India and look for jobs here after finishing their undergraduate degree.

US Most Popular Destination, Election Results to Provide Further Boost

The preferred choice of study abroad destinations was another key area the survey looked at. The United States still remains the most popular destination for the majority (46%) of students surveyed. The country offers the maximum number of quality universities and degree options and is also the world’s largest economy. Preference for the US is expected to rise further with Joe Biden’s win in the recent US elections, with friendlier visa policies for international students, increase in employment visa quotas, waiver of visa quotas for PhD graduates in STEM fields, and easier path to Green Cards for PhD’s being some of the policy changes expected from the incoming administration.

Canada, Germany, UK are Other Top Preferences

Canada was the next popular destination with 18% of respondents citing the country as their primary choice, while Germany came in third with 8%. The UK, once a much-preferred destination, was the first choice for only 7% of students. Uncertainties around the UK economy post-Brexit could be a reason for them being lower ranked on the preference scale.

Overall, while in the early days of COVID-19, students were trying to figure out their uncertain study abroad future, it appears that longer-term plans are still on-track. Better job prospects, stronger brand value of global universities, and the desire to ride out recessionary trends and upskill for their future careers are the major drivers for this.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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