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**Nearly Half of Current Study Abroad Applicants are Women**

Mumbai: There is a rising trend among Indian women to pursue higher education abroad in countries like the US, UK, Europe, Australia, and other regions. This shift comes at a time when global companies are actively working to enhance female representation in the workforce. Additionally, female students are benefiting from an increased availability of specialized scholarships and funding options.

Statistics from loan providers and educational advisors indicate that a significant portion of female students applying for overseas courses and seeking financial support hail not only from major metropolitan cities but also from smaller towns.

Education consultants have observed a notable increase in the number of female applicants, rising from 20-30% of total aspirants in FY21 to 40-45% in FY24. Similarly, financing companies have witnessed a steady rise in female aspirants seeking education loans, increasing from 25-30% in FY21 to 35-45% in FY24.

Shift in STEM Course Preferences

Akshay Chaturvedi, the founder and CEO of Leverage.biz, operating Fly.finance, mentioned that the percentage of female applicants for loans saw a significant rise from 31% in September 2022 intake to 40% in the recent September 2023 intake. This trend is expected to continue growing in the upcoming year.

Amit Gainda, MD, and CEO of Avanse Financial Services, highlighted that the proportion of female students funded by Avanse has been on the rise, reaching more than 33% during FY22 and maintaining levels around 34-36% in FY24. Notably, nearly 45% of students funded from non-metro cities by Avanse in December FY24 were women, up from 34% in FY21.

The increasing trend of female students opting for traditionally male-dominated fields like science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) is fueled by a combination of factors such as heightened awareness of global opportunities, a desire for cross-cultural exposure, and the availability of scholarships specifically targeting female candidates.

Rohan Ganeriwala, co-founder of study abroad consultant Collegify, noted a significant demographic shift in recent years, with female applicants increasing from 30-35% to 40-45% in the Collegify network. This surge signifies a growing interest among women from both urban and rural areas in pursuing international education.

Pursuing Enriching Opportunities

Ganeriwala emphasized that societal movements towards gender equality and empowerment have motivated more women to seek enriching experiences abroad. This trend reflects not only the changing educational landscapes but also the aspirations of young women to explore diverse cultures and educational avenues beyond their national borders.

Loan agencies are introducing tailored offers to attract and support more female students.

Author: Rica Bhattacharyya