Every year about 200,000 Indian students go to foreign universities to pursue higher education, incurring an annual expenditure of roughly $15 billion. The four most popular countries for Indian students have been the UK, the US, Canada and Australia.
However, universities in Australia have been seeing a steady decline in numbers of foreign students since 2008. Increasing incidences of racist attacks against foreign students in Australia has led to a decline in the number of Indian students going there, whereas Canada’s share has been increasing due to its more tolerant culture.
A study by Technopak Advisors revealed that the number of Indian students in Australia dropped by 56% from 28,411 in 2008 to 12,629 in 2012. The percentage of Indian students in Australia declined from 14.8 in 2008 to 6.4 in 2012.
Student counsellors say that they advise students to choose their destination on the basis of two main factors besides tuition fees and cost of living: ease of migration and personal safety. On both accounts, they have admitted, that Canada has been faring better than Australia in recent years. “There were incidents of racial discrimination and young boys being killed in Australia a few years back and all these made headlines. Families were scared to send their children and several agencies, which were providing migratory services shut down. Some of the dubious Australian universities were also providing courses just for the sake of migration. The Australian government had come down heavily on them,” said N Chandramouli, CEO of Trust Research Advisory.
On the other hand, the fastest growth in attracting Indian students has been recorded by Canadian universities between 2008 and 2012, during which its share increased from 4.3% to 14.7%. There has been a whopping 357% increase in the number of Indian students going to Canada between 2006 and 2013. While 2006 saw only 6,927 Indian students in Canada, that number went up to 31,665 by 2013, earning Canada about $860 million.
“Reputation of education system in Canada and safety are two important factors that beckon Indian students to the country. The society is tolerant and non-discriminatory, and summer jobs and opportunities after completion of study are available for foreign students,” says Aurobindo Saxena of Technopak Advisors.”While both Canada and Australia promote migration, the norms are easier in Canada and the society too has a cosmopolitan structure,” adds Chandramouli.
Besides safety and ease of migration, Canada also offers lower tuition fees and living expenses when compared to the US and other countries. Upon migration to Canada, a student has to pay the same tuition fee that is applicable to local students, which is almost half of the fees applicable for international students.