Big Three (US, UK and Australia) nose-dive; boosting the numbers for New Destinations!

What’s happening to the outflow of Indian Students to Education Destinations around the world? The experts have been baffled as not one, two or three reasons but a combination of factors are taking their toll on each of the major destination country.

For years, the central characters of this plot have been universities in the US, the UK and Australia. Indian students who pack classrooms around the world – they are second only to the Chinese – did not dare look beyond these destinations for reasons as varied as job prospects to social recognition. Those days seem to be winding to an end.

The above quote is from an article in The Economic Times by a seasoned education writer. (The full article is on this link). “Those days seem to be winding to an end”! Maybe not, in my opinion. The institutions in US, UK and Australia are tightening the belt and all want only the so-called-genuine students and not workers disguised as students. Maybe in medium to long term, the “real education destinations” will once again be attractive. However in the immediate term, those days indeed seem to be winding to an end.

A raft of new destinations such as Continental Europe, Canada, Singapore, New Zealand and China are emerging as the new red-hot destinations. The map for overseas studies that was once concentrated on three regions finally resembles a spread.

Interestingly, in November of 2010, I had done a report card on all the destinations and had made some predictions for each of the destinations. I only read it today after reading the above linked article and felt proud of what I had written six months ago. Do look up  2010 report-card and 2011 prediction: Demand from India for International Destinations (my blog of November 2010) and you will want to continue subscribing to my thoughts for its accuracy. Am I not sounding like an astrologer now who wants to enjoy the success of his predictions… apologies for this immodesty.

Returning to The Economic Times article…

Volumes of essays, English tests with formidable acronyms like TOEFL and IELTS and endless sessions with bank managers. It is a grind that swathes of students in India experience every summer to enter foreign educational institutes.

Indian students are now turning their backs on the usual suspects for some of the very reasons they flocked to them earlier.

Indeed, the fall in the number of students to the troika of the US, the UK and Australia has been too sharp to ignore.

Nowhere else has the shift been more palpable than in Australia. The number of Indian students who chose the country dropped 77% in 2010 compared to the previous year.

The reality is that the 77% fall was for July 2009 till June 2010 over July 2008 till June 2009. The numbers have fallen further in the last 11 months and my fear is that the data that will be released post June 2011 will show a further decline and we are likely to find only about half of the total number of students as compared to last year period during this year. The reasons for this continuing fall was detailed in my earlier blog for February (Is the AL change sufficient to arrest the fall in Indian student numbers to OZ?)

In the UK, only 41,350 Indians went to study in 2010 against 57,000 in 2009. Even the US seems to be losing some of its sheen for Indian students as their numbers fell by 32% in 2009-2010 from a year ago. There are now more Chinese than Indian students in the US.

I have already predicted earlier this year that during this year, UK could see a decline of over 50% (possibly even more) to the above stated numbers for last year. The reason for this is surely and clearly, the measures detailed in UKBA announces changes from April 2011: I predict the end of a good story… I did revise my assessment in a subsequent blog  UKBA Student changes. Revising my “initial comments” now that Full details are revealed but I guess the reality is closer to my initial assessment itself and the recent weeks indicate that there is considerable double speak even right now. An example is: It is just not clear to anyone whether students on a 1 year Masters degrees can or cannot be accompanied by their spouse… Possibly yes if the rule as per one official site indicates the program of study to be of “atleast one year” and possibly no if the rule on the other link also of the official site requires the program of the study to be of “more than a year”.

The biggest beneficiary of this shift has been Canada, where the number of Indian students rose 280% in 2010 compared to 2008. France is absorbing a steady increase of at least 20% Indian students a year. There were 15% more Indian students in Germany in 2009-10 from a year ago.

Though the Singapore government is yet to publish countrywise figures, education consultants say the number of Indian students picking that country has been rising nearly 20% a year since 2009.

The reason why I disconnect from the quoted article a little bit is that the article also attempts to predict a rise for the New Destinations without realising that the new destinations are growing simply because of the failings of the three key destinations and not due to any attractiveness of their own. Canada and NZ are really not New Destinations and will continue to grow due to their own USPs. In the case of Canada it is clearly the SPP mechanism and also the Post Study Work opportunities. It is being expected that there will be some rethinking with regards to both these in 2011-12. A friend informs that at one of the colleges in Canada, students are even demanding some tutorial classes in Punjabi! NZ is a small country and has limits. During the period April 2010 to March 2011 (the most recent data that is available) it approved a total of 5964 student visas from India. This is possibly the most that it can issue and the most that NZ can absorb. What is of great concern to me is that possibly not more than 200-400 of these landed up at NZ Universities. The remaining are at the Government run ITPs and at Private Colleges. While ITPs are largely good destinations for students, only a few of the PTEs are catering to genuine students. Hence, unless NZ changes this share of PTEs in the total student numbers to NZ, be ready to see NZ slide big time soon and be ready for stricter changes in line of changes that have been initiated in UK and Australia.

Hence, if the major destinations, correct the impediments, we can expect a turnaround albeit a little slow turnaround. Australia changed the AL for University students in April, has reduced the monopoly of IELTS and announced acceptability of TOEFL, Pearsons and Cambridge’s CAS just yesterday and a student visa program review is likely to come up with concrete improvements by mid of June. Last week, the budget in Canberra gave indications of major changes in the Immigration regulations too and so we can take our seat and wait for the curtain to rise. It is a story still unfolding. This is the reason for my continuing optimism…

The Economic Times article quotes me…

Adds Ravi Lochan Singh, president of the Association of Australian Education Representatives in India: “The only bright spot is that Australia also offers an 18-month provision to work for experience post-education for two years. This will remain an alternative since the UK is clamping down on post-study work options from 2012.”

USA too has made some changes that have expanded the list of courses that make students eligible for the CPT experience. This is a positive development and will have its own benefits. UK will need to work hard at winning me back… even though I am wanting to be won.

Disclaimer: The quote of mine about the possibility of 18 months work visa is from The Economic Times. I was referring to the Subclass 485 visa and details for this is on



  1. Ravi, I feel even Canada will see decline in numbers soon.
    The industry needs good counsellors to bring some facts out to public.
    This year all destinations will see drop in numbers compared to last year.


    1. This is true. The numbers will fall over last year but will still be high compared to year before. However, do look out for 2012and 2013 when numbers for Canada is going to fall due to other reasons….


  2. These days majority of files from Punjab and Gujarat are being rejected by Canadian High Comm. The same is with NZ immigration. Only students who have good academic back ground are able to get visas. Now all countries want quality students. Where to find one is the question. Any suggestions. I feel our industry is seeing correction. The US consulate is not issuing student visa these days. I feel even 2012 will not see any rise in volume for US, UK and Australia.


  3. the number of students who go abroad i think will decrease in the future as more countries are making strict laws for studying and working for foreign nationals, lets see how this trend changes in the future.


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