Indian students in US – comparison with UK and Australia

In my previous post ‘Foreign students in US – China, India, South Korea’, I made the point that India is seeing a downward trend in terms of graduate students over last 3-4 years (while undergraduate has grown slightly), while China has been accelerating at a rapid pace in both graduate and undergraduate. Here is a comment I got on the Indian phenomenon:

I wonder how the trend would be if you were to include Indian students going to other foreign destinations such as Australia, UK etc. May be coming to US has flattened due to tighter visa policy and grim job prospects. Just a thought.

This is a very good point. So I tried to look at UK and Australia data. Strangely (but maybe not so strangely), India doesn’t have such data easily available for its own students, so I had to go look for Australian and UK sources. For Australia, I used Australian Education International‘s site, which has tons of data, and a very handy pivot table available with exactly the data I needed. For UK, I leveraged data available from Higher Education Statistics Agency which publishes (and sells) this data. I had to read through the press releases to get the summary data for China, India and South Korea that I was looking for.

Interestingly, South Korea doesn’t figure in top 10-15 countries which send students to UK, I don’t know why that would be the case. For Australia, South Korea was in top 3, the way it was for US.

Also, both these countries had undergraduate and graduate data combined. Here is what the trend looks like:

Here are some data points for Indian students going to these 3 countries:

Some observations:

  1. 2010 is an outlier of sorts (there is no data for UK for 2010 so I have excluded all 2010 data) because that is the one that shows strong dip in both Aus and US. It might be something going on, or just the way data is collected about enrollments and presence.
  2. Indian students going abroad for higher education is going up steadily by about 10% over last 3-4 years.
  3. US had about 80% students in 2002 and has been going down steadily till 2006, after which it stabilized at around 60%.
  4. UK started low (around 10%) but has now left Australia behind.
  5. Australia has grown steadily, but it flattened after 2006 and has been going down since.
  6. Acceleration graph (I plotted the % change year on year for each country and total) shows that early part of the decade had boom which started coming down (UK went down most), 2005-2006 is when it reached the bottom, and then recently it has been going up again, though the distribution of destinations have changed (see observation 3-5 above).

Question: has reduction in # of students going to US anything to do with the fact that students are going to other places like Aus and UK?

Answer: it doesn’t seem so, the trends over the years to all the 3 countries seem similar and holding well.

Of course, this is not conclusive data and going into the details (separating undergrad and grad, looking at drivers/inhibitors for each destination, etc.) will yield the real insight if there is something lurking behind these stats.

3 thoughts on “Indian students in US – comparison with UK and Australia

  1. Hey Mrityunjay,

    I started reading your blog and learning many good points. Thanks for this and your posts are very detail. I have shared this URL with my friends and everyone liked this. Keep going…


  2. One reason for the Indian students to not go for higher education to US could be better job prospects within India itself. Mainly afrer the software boom in the last decade, there were plenty of job opportunities just after graduation. In the later half of the decade lots of banking and finance related companies started their business centers in India which added more to the list.

    China on the other hand (and this is just from the knowlwdge I have aquired via internet and of course haven’t had first hand experience like you) has mostly manufacturing related jobs, which I am sure arent hefty paying ones unlike software and multi national banks in India. So it is natural for chinese students to look out for better options and hence going to US for higher studies.

  3. Brilliant post! wish I had read this before coming here! lol!

    anyways, things are not too bad here in UK for me.. just graduated and applying for graduate jobs in London!
    Hoping to find one soon as there are some good opportunities in the online marketing sector.

    Thought I’ll just share! 🙂

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