The growth of Indian students going overseas for their studies went up faster than China’s last year, revealed the Indian Students Mobility Report 2016.

In 2015, the number of students from India going abroad came up to 360,000, recording a growth of 17.8 percent.

This surge was attributed to the fact that there are not enough quality higher education institutions to cater to the rising number of students, even those with excellent marks.

Additionally, the expansion of India’s middle class is another factor, as their rising purchasing power has increased the affordability of overseas study.

“In terms of growth rate, we have said in the past that India is set to overtake China, and it is certainly on track,” said Maria Mathai, director of MM Advisory Services, which published the report.

In terms of absolute numbers, however, China is still ahead of India, with almost 700,000 students overseas, close to double the number for India, which currently stands at 360,000.

Nearly 85 percent of internationally mobile Indian students head for the U.S., U.K., Australia, Canada and New Zealand, and student numbers to these countries have generally seen an increase, except in the U.K.

The U.K. is the only top study destination that has seen a downturn, due to its tightening immigration policies, which has made it more difficult for overseas students to secure visas, particularly those from India.

The number of Indian students choosing the U.S. as their study destination saw a growth of nearly 30 percent.

In the U.S. alone, nearly 45 percent of international students are either from India or China, making up almost half the market. The report noted that Canada appears to be heading that way, as almost 42 percent of its international students were from the two countries in 2014.

The report also found that Germany and China are emerging as popular alternative destinations for Indian students.

In the next five years, the report predicted that Germany could soon catch up and even overtake the U.K. as the most popular European study destination for international students – in 2015, it attracted some 340,000 international students, compared to almost 450,000 in the U.K.

The number of Indian students studying in Germany grew to 11,655 students (or 24.3 percent) last year, overtaking Russia.

The jump in numbers heading to Germany was likely due to the German government’s initiative to waive tuition fees for international students.

“That’s made many students, especially in high-cost countries including the U.S., start evaluating Germany as a serious option for international education,” explained the report.

“The package that Germany offers now is perceived to be so attractive that the language hurdle is something that students feel they can manage. Germany is also a leader in Europe and a strong technological country. It is seen as a place where cutting edge high-tech happens,” added Mathai.

In terms of China becoming a favored study destination, Mathai told University World News that it “came as a surprise”.

Last year, Indian students going to China jumped by almost 23 percent to 16,694 students – approaching the number going to the U.K., which numbers at 18,320.

Most of the students choosing to study in China are pursuing medical studies, due to the lack of places in India’s medical schools.

Image via Shutterstock.

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