About 52 percent of Indian students planning to study abroad prefer specialized courses over university reputation when choosing the institution, according to a survey commissioned by Western Union.
“They’re looking for courses that are niche but are slowly gaining traction, often looking beyond Ivy League universities that can’t offer these courses,” says the Education Overseas-An Evolving Journey study commissioned by NielsenIQ.
Specialized courses a hit
Tarun Aggarwal, CBO of CollegeDekho, said the number one concern for most students is Return of Investment (ROI), as earning a degree abroad requires significant expenditure. Courses that provide lucrative jobs such as engineering, management, computer science, law, design, and hospitality are always sought after by those seeking to study abroad.
“Recently, the trend has shown that the demand for courses such as data science, business analytics and fintech is gaining momentum. Combination courses such as health informatics and technical management have also proven to be popular choices for students,” Aggarwal added.
The study abroad sector has witnessed an increasing trend of students opting for specialized courses. Leap Scholar data shows that Indian students are leaning towards more popular courses like MBA, MSc Data Science and Computer Science.
“While MBAs in the US have always been a popular degree for international students, students are increasingly choosing MBA-adjacent subjects such as finance, analysis, and management. These fields are extra attractive because they not only provide greater career stability, but also provide U.S. immigration benefits after graduation, thanks to their STEM accreditation,” said Sasha Ramani, Associate Director (Corporate Strategy) at MPOWER Financing.
“MBA adjacent STEM degrees are especially popular among women, and even top schools are rushing to make them more widely available to everyone. Yale University, for example, recently renamed its economics degree to Econometric and Quantitative Economics so that students can gain STEM accreditation, and the one-year master’s degree in Finance at MIT is mainly made up of international students,” Ramani emphasized.
Popular courses at foreign universities
According to the data released by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a total of 11,33,749 Indian students are studying in 99 other countries in January 2021. Of these, the UAE, Canada, Australia and China are among the top destinations that Indian students choose for study abroad.
Piyush Kumar, Regional Director (South Asia) at IDP Education, said students choose the best specialized courses available in a country or university where they want to study.
“New Zealand is popular for its high educational offering, while Canada is home to some of the world’s leading universities, known for offering the best courses in business and finance, computer science and information technology, engineering, health and medicine, and media and journalism,” said Kumar.
“Several students choose the UK to take courses related to business, engineering and technology, natural sciences, medicine, law, social sciences, sports science, media and communication, creative arts, fine arts, performing arts and hospitality and tourism. Meanwhile, many students choose to pursue careers in medicine, medical science, engineering and business management and consider Ireland a preferred choice,” he added.