What Attracts Indian Students To The US?

In 2021-22, the proportion of students in engineering fell to 29.6 per cent or 58,957 — the rise in absolute numbers is in sync with the overall increase in the number of Indian students in the US.

Engineering is no longer the most popular draw for Indian students headed to the United States for higher education. Programmes in mathematics and computer sciences have gained the top spot in order of preference over the past decade, shows an analysis by The Indian Express of Open Doors data compiled by the US State Department and the non-profit Institute of Interna

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China remains the country that sends the most students to the U.S. But India is closing the gap according to the 2022 report. The number of students from India increased by 19 percent while those from China dropped by nine percent in the most recent school year.

The US has a certain allure for international students; a study destination that has a lot to offer: world-class universities, top-notch student facilities, a burgeoning job market, beautiful and eclectic cities and parks, and a very culturally diverse population.  It stands to reason that India is the second-largest source of international students for the States. Let’s study some of the reasons in detail:

  • Highly-acclaimed and top-ranked US universities

It is a well-established fact that the USA houses some of the best universities – Harvard, Columbia,  Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and more. The list of top 100 universities alone has 56 US universities, more than any other country. The reason US universities are coveted is because of the value they provide on a personal and professional level. Earning a degree from a prestigious university in the US has a guaranteed return, gives the student an edge over other students, and makes them employable across the globe.

The departments are well-funded. The classrooms are optimized to give students more access to web-based learning utilizing computer-based tests and world-class resources, providing more than just theoretical knowledge.

  • Academic flexibility

One of the best features of US universities is that they offer academic flexibility to students to explore their interests and different academic disciplines. An undergraduate student has the option to study a wide range of subjects before they choose a major at the end of the second year. Similarly, in graduate degree programs, students can customize their curriculum with elective courses and combined degrees. They are free to explore different fields of study and find a subject that resonates with them the most.

Another great feature in the US is transfer admission, which allows students to easily transfer their credits from one university to another university. Academic freedom is demonstrated in the classroom as well, where there is an open exchange of different views and perspectives. The professors and students share a close relationship that helps mentor students and inculcates academic curiosity. This flexibility attracts the Indian student community. Moreover, the student-to-faculty ratio is low, which offers room for students and teachers to connect.

  • Ample training and career opportunities

A perfect mix of education and practical experience is offered to students. International students benefit from academic training programs such as OPT and CPT. Optional Practical Training (OPT) allows international students with an F-1 visa to work up to 12 months during or after the study duration. Students with STEM degrees get another 12 months and can work up to 24 months. Curricular Practical Training (CPT) is similar to OPT, with the only difference being that it has to be completed before graduation. Both these programs allow students to foray into the job market and make connections with potential employers. It is especially helpful for students because the F-1 visa does not allow “dual intent” and there are limited options for students to stay in the US and work.

Assistantships are another way to work and learn simultaneously. Students can apply to assist in teaching or even work on a research project with a professor. Some are even fortunate enough to work with a leading scholar in their chosen field.

  • Networking opportunities

As expensive as a degree is from the US, it offers equal opportunities to get its worth. Professors are open for discussion and can offer valuable career advice and ways to become employable. Universities host job fairs, workshops, career counseling sessions, networking events to help boost student employability. Recruiters attend these fairs to scout talent. Most US universities also boast a wide alumni network to help mentor and guide students. Networking is one of the best ways students, especially international students, can enter the US job market. If a student is unable to grab hold of any opportunity, they can make use of the university’s career center. A US degree paves the way for a brighter future. In fact, according to the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2020, US universities rank higher than most in terms of producing the most employable graduate students.

  • Support for international students

Cultural diversity is one of the defining pillars of the universities, as is advertised by almost every US university. The diversity and inclusion of various races and nationalities help universities create a productive environment for the students, where they feel comfortable, are more engaged and motivated to study. Every university campus has an international student service office that addresses the concerns of the international student community. Indian students have an added benefit from the strong presence of the Indian community in the US. Once students move past the initial cultural shock, the diversity will truly open up their worldview.

The universities also provide financial aid to support the students in the form of scholarships, grants, bursaries, and tuition-fee waivers.

Studying in the US is nothing short of a dream for some students – a step closer to achieving the American Dream, to live by the ethos and ideals of a country that ranks number one in practically every aspect. (Courtesy: TOI)

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