Great value, welcoming people: 6 best countries for Indian students

best countries to study abroad for indian students
Many Indian students are choosing to study abroad to gain more opportunities for a successful future. Source: AFP

Did you know that India is one of the top countries sending students abroad, with over 750,000 students venturing into the world annually?

While India has many great educational institutions — the IITs that produce the likes of Sundar Pichai, for example —  studying in one of the best countries to study abroad for Indian students opens the doors to opportunities unlikr no other.

You’ll find research facilities, teaching methods and exposure that may just be life-changing.

Beyond the books and campuses, you’ll be part of a melting pot of ideas, building a global network and making friends from every corner of the globe.

best countries to study abroad for indian students

Due to Russia’s extremely cold weather, it is not the most suitable countries for Indian students to study abroad — unless they come from Kashmir. Source: AFP

Worst countries for Indian students to study abroad in

While there are many best countries to study abroad for Indian students, there are some countries that may bring just the opposite experience.

These countries are China, Russia and Sweden. While great to visti, they might not be the ideal choices for Indian students.

While the Great Wall might be an impressive sight, navigating through Mandarin is hard. The language barrier can turn everyday tasks into a challenge, and ordering your favourite Indian dish might become impossible. Plus, the sheer size of the country can make you feel lost and alone.

Similarly, Russia may be known for its vast landscape and beautiful architecture, but the Cyrillic alphabet is difficult to master. From deciphering street signs to reading your textbooks, you might find yourself struggling to understand the language. Russia is also known to be extremely chilly, going as low as minus eight celsius, which could be difficult to adapt to compared to the warmth back home in India.

And while studying in Sweden sounds amazing, the high cost of living can be a struggle for many. The average cost of living in Sweden for international students is around 8,000 to 13,500 Swedisn Kronas (US$764.94 to US$1,290.83) per month.

6 best countries to study abroad for Indian students

best countries to study abroad for indian students

Canada is one of the best countries to study abroad for Indian students because it has a significant population of the world’s Indian diaspora. Source: AFP

1. Canada

With its maple-syrup-sweetened charm, Canada makes the list as one of the best countries to study abroad for Indian students.

In the last few years, Indians have become the largest group of international students in Canada. In fact, in 2022, over 225,835 permits were granted to Indian  students to study in Canada.

So why are Indian students attracted to Canada?

The University of Montreal, McGill University and McMaster University are among the best universities in the country and the world. A degree here comes with an average annual tuition fee of around 30,000 Canadian dollars  (US$22,268.55), which may be a lot, but by the prestige of a too Canadian degree, the return of investment can be high.

While groceries in Vancouver might cost more compared to Mumbai, the annual cost of living is still relatively low conpared to other countries, at CA$12,000 (US$8,907.54)

And if you are missing home, you don’t have to worry when studying in Canada. With an Indian community of nearly 1.85 million, you’ll definitely feel at home here. Whether it’s indulging in butter chicken and masala dosa at Little India in Toronto or visiting one of the 252 Hindu temples in the country, you don’t have to worry about feeling homesick.

Here are the best universities in Canada to choose from:

  • University of Toronto
  • University of British Columbia
  • McGill University
best countries to study abroad for indian students

Explore Australia’s wildlife when you study in one of the best countries to study abroad for indian students. Source: AFP

2. Australia

If you are looking for a country where you will be surrounded by breathtaking views, friendly people and diverse cultures while still receiving quality education, Australia is the place for you.

Australia’s combination of top-notch education and laid-back lifestyle is a big hit among Indian students. According to the Department of Home Affairs, 382,000 student visas were granted to Indian students between July 2022 and February 2023. This was a 41.3% increase compared to 2020.

Australia is also highly sought after due to its more affordable tuition fees and cost of living compared to other English-speaking countries. Tuition fees range between 20,000 and 45,000 Australian dollars (US$13,202.80 to US$29,706.30) for undergraduate programmes and up to AU$50,000 (US$33,007.00) for master’s degrees.

Cities like Sydney and Melbourne are notorious for sky-high rents but choose unis in regional areas and you can find more affordable living costs.

What’s more, in Australia, international students are able to work up to 40 hours a fortnight during term time, which can provide you with extra financial support.

The QS World University Rankings 2024 featured 38 Australian universities on its list. Nine secured a position in the top 100. Leading the pack is the University of Melbourne, which stands out as the top-ranked university in Australia.

Aside from academics, Australia has a world of natural wonders ready to be explored. Imagine taking a break from studies to explore the rugged outback, spot koalas in eucalyptus trees or witness kangaroos hopping around freely. That’s not counting everything the state of Tasmania alone has to offer, filled with plants and animals you cannot find anywhere else in the world.

In major cities like Sydney and Brisbane, you can also savour the taste of home with numerous Indian restaurants and places of worship, creating a sense of familiarity.

Here are the best universities in Australia for international students:

  • University of Melbourne
  • University of Sydney 
  • University of Queensland
best countries to study abroad for indian students

Explore one of the seven wonders of the world when you choose to study in one of the best countries to study abroad for indian students. Source: AFP

3. United Arab Emirates (UAE)

If you’re an Indian student aspiring to study abroad, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) could be your dream destination.

Picture world-class universities, top-notch colleges and a quality education system. You can find all this and more in the UAE.

What makes it even more appealing is the fact that the tuition fees and cost of living in the UAE are quite reasonable for Indian students when compared to other study-abroad destinations.

Tuition fees for undergraduate programmes in Dubai start as low as 40,000 United Arab Emirates Dirham (US$10,890.58) per academic year. The best universities include Manipal Higher Education Academy, Amity University Dubai and American University in the Emirates.

Here, international students can expect to pay between AED3,000 (US$816.79) and AED6,000 (US$1,633.59) per month for transport, food, rent and entertainment.

And if you are missing home, the UAE has many bustling streets with Indian restaurants serving delectable dishes that taste just like home.

So, whether you’re indulging in the aromatic spices of Indian cuisine, seeking solace in a place of worship, or marvelling at architectural wonders like the Burj Khalifa, the UAE is one of the best countries to study abroad for Indian students.

Interested? Check out the best universities in the UAE for international students:

  • American University in Dubai (AUD)
  • University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD)
  • British University in Dubai (BUiD)

4. UK

With over 350 universities offering diverse courses, including renowned institutions like Oxford and Cambridge, the UK has long been a favourite among students.

The shorter undergraduate programmes, typically lasting three years, not only allow you to save on tuition fees but also provide a faster path to your degree, compared to the US’s four-year bachelor’s degrees.

While tuition fees for international students can vary, the opportunity to study in a country with vibrant Indian communities in cities like London, Leicester, Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Slough adds a comforting touch of home.

Cost-wise, living expenses depend on your chosen location, with London being much pricier compared to other areas. You can expect to spend about 15,600 pounds to 16,800 pounds (US$19,770.04 to US$21,290.81) per year in London and 10,800 pounds to 15,600 pounds (US$13,690.46 to US$US$19,770.04) in the rest of the UK.

The opportunity to work during your studies, up to 20 hours per week, under your Tier 4 student visa, adds to the UK’s appeal as international students are able to study while earning some extra cash on the side.

Many cities boast authentic Indian restaurants and shops where you can savour familiar tastes and find familiar products, making your stay culturally enriching. And if you need more convincing, did you know the national dish of the UK is chicken tikka masala? It’s an Anglicised version but that tells you a lot about how Indian culture has long been accepted and celebrated in the UK.

Kickstart your study abroad journey at the best universities in the UK for international students:

  • University of Oxford 
  • University of Cambridge 
  • University College London
best countries to study abroad for indian students

Achieve your “American Dream” when you study in one of the best countries to study abroad for indian students. Source: AFP

5. US

Indians are the largest group of South Asian Americans in the US. With a population of more than 4.4 million, they make up approximately 1.35% of the US population.

Picture strolling down the bustling streets of New York or the serene campuses of California, and you stumble upon not just one but multiple Indian restaurants that offer a slice of home.

Craving some biryani or butter chicken? Fear not, for places like “Dhaba Indian Cuisine” or “Curry House” are ready to satisfy your taste buds and make you feel (almost) right at home.

And when it all gets too much you can find solace in Siddhivinayak Temple in Los Angeles or the Gurudwara Sahib in New Jersey.

Aside from this, the US is one of the best countries to study abroad for Indian students due to its flexible education system allowing you to design your academic journey, with the first two years exploring a broad spectrum of knowledge and the last two diving deep into your major subject.

While the tuition fees in the US, ranging between US$25,000 and US$55,000 per year, is steeper than in other countries, there are many scholarship opportunities and financial aid options available to international students. This includes Fulbright Scholarships, AAUW International Fellowships and Stanford University Scholarship.

Ready to achieve your “American Dream”? Here are the best universities to do so:

  • Harvard University 
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Stanford University
best countries to study abroad for indian students

Rich with Asian culture, Singapore is one of the best countries to study abroad for indian students. Source: AFP

6. Singapore

If you’re dreaming of studying abroad, Singapore is your golden ticket. What could be more fitting than a country that blends Western and Asian academic influences?

The land of the Merlion is not only home to world-class universities like the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University but also provides many scholarship and internship opportunities. This includes the AI Singapore Scholarship, the Singapore International Graduate Award and the ASEAN Scholarship.

The cost of living ranges from 750 to 2,000 Singapore dollars per month (US$559.28 to US$1,491.41) per month. The best part is that international students can take on part-time jobs for up to 16 hours a week, helping you make ends meet and make the most of the city state that was the setting for the “Crazy Rich Asians” film.

And if you are a foodie, you’ll be happy to know Singapore is a food paradise. Check out “Komala Vilas” for some authentic South Indian fare or “Rang Mahal” for a taste of the North.

With about 10% of the population being Indian, you’ll feel right at home. From the stunning Sri Mariamman Temple to the lively Mustafa Centre, you’ll find pockets of home everywhere.

If you are looking to study in Singapore, consider these universities:

  • INSEAD Singapore
  • National University of Singapore (NUS)
  • Singapore Management University