Indian Students Avoiding US Universities as Economy Takes Toll on Schooling

January 09, 2009 10:57 AM
by Sarah Amandolare
A recent study says the number of Indians applying to American institutions will shrink this year; it is one of the more recent economic effects on higher education.

Fewer Indian Students to Study in US; Americans Look Abroad For Schooling

Fewer students from India may be seeking entry to American universities this year, according to SiliconIndia, as the number of applications for courses in the United States will most likely drop 20 percent in 2009. The struggling economy, the strengthening of the dollar and the gloomy job outlook are believed to account for the change.

A study from the Educational Testing Service (ETS) indicates that only 75,000 Indian students will attend institutions in the United States this year, as compared to 94,563 last year. Also this year, ETS says the number of Indian students taking the American testing company’s Graduate Record Exam (GRE), which is required by many American graduate schools, will fall from 74,000 in 2008 to 58,000 in 2009.

Ajay Arora, director at the Triumphant Institute of Management Education, also notes “that the future for the Indian economy does not look as not as bleak as that of the U.S. and students are increasingly opting to pursue a career in the country,” SiliconIndia writes.

Economics are affecting American students’ choices as well. A recent story in The New York Times highlighted the trend of more American undergraduate students completing “their full degree program” in foreign countries, both for international experience and to save money, compared to the cost of top private schools in the United States. At the same time, many college students who’ve stayed in the United States are struggling to finance their educations.

The New York Times reported that international schools “are competing for the same pool of affluent, well-qualified students” from abroad, and that “many American students, and English ones, come from expensive private schools.” There are many American college students at the other end of the financial spectrum, however.

According to a Daily Californian article published on the Web site Politico, many college students in the United States “have been forced to take on extra jobs,” while others are taking out more loans to make ends meet. Edie Irons, the communications director for the Institute of College Access and Success, told The Daily Californian, “I think that students, just like everybody else, are facing tough financial times … a lot of families may have less money to pay for college than they did six months ago.”

Additionally, more high school students are altering their college application choices “to accommodate their financial capabilities” in light of the recession, said Berkeley High School college admissions counselor Angela Price to The Daily Californian.

Background: More Americans abroad than ever

In November 2008, the U.S. Department of State reported record high numbers of Americans studying abroad and international students studying in the United States. The State Department claims to have “been actively promoting this growth,” and supporting programs such as The Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship and the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, which help American students pursue international educational opportunities.

There are “many reasons” why more students are studying in foreign countries, reports The Buffalo News. The job market has become more international, and some parts of the world still have “a shortage of higher education,” forcing many students to look elsewhere for college opportunities.

Most international students arrive in the United States from India, China, South Korea, Japan and Canada, according to The Buffalo News. And in the United States, universities and colleges have been reaching out to international students more intensely, and attempting “to smooth the student visa process.” Stephen C. Dunnett, the vice provost for international education at the University of Buffalo, told The Buffalo News, “This is the first year where we had some real growth and are back to where we were pre-9/11.”

Related Topic: Fixing the U.S. image abroad

Reference: Applying to College Guide


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