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Study abroad: Nearly 70 students choose the US for overseas higher education followed by UK (54%), Canada (43%) and Australia (27%) reveals report

With India continuing to witness a spike in students’ interest to pursue higher education abroad, a recent report has revealed certain insights about the student migration trend. The second edition of Oxford International’s Student Global Mobility Index (SGMI) published recently has shown that despite concerns over affordability, safety, and security, the United States of America (USA) remains the top choice among 69% of the surveyed Indian students seeking higher education abroad over other countries such as UK (54%), Canada (43%) and Australia (27%).

The study also stated that 45% of students cited the quality of education and 42% highlighted the reputation of universities as significant motivating factors for those aspiring to pursue higher education in the USA. In contrast, for the UK, 59% of students emphasised the quality of education, while 61% pointed to the reputation of universities.

Key influencers

Another significant observation revealed that nearly 71% of the Indian students stated that their parents or guardians were the primary influencers in shaping the decision of pursuing education abroad. This trend was also noticed in students from other countries like Nigeria (72%), Pakistan (71%) and Vietnam (62%). Trailing this, 44% of Indian students stated that their closest friends were the second influencers in their decision to move abroad for higher education.

Commenting on the study Mohit Gambir, managing director, Oxford International Education Services said, “It is interesting to note that despite apprehensions surrounding affordability and safety, the allure of quality education and esteemed universities persists as primary drivers. Moreover, the pivotal role of parental influence shaping the decisions of Indian students, underscores the profound familial impact on educational pursuits. As aspirations intertwine with opportunity, the narrative of global student mobility continues to evolve, reflecting a mosaic of motivations and influencers shaping the educational journey.”

The study conducted collaboratively by Oxford International and THE Knowledge Partnership specialising in global student research, encompasses a diverse sample size of 500-plus current and prospective students. Participants were carefully chosen from key markets such as India, Pakistan, Vietnam, and Nigeria, providing an elaborate understanding of the motivations and obstacles that shape the global student mobility landscape.

Other major findings

  • When it comes to the affordable course fees parameter, a significant 28% of Indian students selected the UK for higher education, followed by choices that include Australia (20%), Canada (18%), and the USA (9%)
  • The USA does not score as well as other countries on being welcoming and friendly or safe and secure
  • More than 34% of all responding aspiring students selected Australia (34%) as they could apply for scholarships followed by Canada (32%), UK (27%), USA (23%)
  • As compared to Pakistan (23%) and Vietnam (22%), 35% of the students from India and Nigeria are inclined to engage with higher education agents as a primary source of information during the decision-making process for selecting courses and universities to consider for their education
  • Interestingly 71% of Indian students believe parents and guardians influence the decision-making process and this trend is similarly high in other countries with Nigeria at 72%, Pakistan at 71% and Vietnam at 62%
  • Indian students’ interest in different countries varies, in particular for Canada where the opportunity to combine work and study matters. Australia has a different profile – an interest and perception of warmth and friendliness are rated higher than quality of education