Why consider studying abroad?


Sunitha Perumal discusses the changing perspective of studying abroad and suggests a few means to tackle the issue of rupee-depreciation

The scope of studying abroad has expanded over the years. Thanks to globalisation, we now can access the best of universities across the world.

Studying abroad definitely provides students a macro understanding of the world and keeps them highly competitive and upbreast. Students can better their understanding of global culture, economics and their inter-dependencies. You gain a different view of international affairs, politics and social issues.

While abroad, a new academic interest or perspective on your major may emerge. Studying at a university abroad allows you to study subjects that are not available in your home country. Studying abroad gives you more than a nice boost to your resume and improves your post-graduate employment prospects, particularly if you're considering a career in business, international affairs, or government services.

Students and parents are aware that the cost of education has been on a rise ever since the rupee has been sliding. With the fluctuation in currency, students will have to shell out 15 – 20% more on everything from their fees, education loan, and living expenses which could in turn increase the financial burden on student aspiring to study abroad.

Although the fall in rupee seems to have shaken the aspiration of students willing to study abroad, it has not shattered the dreams of students wanting to purse their dreams says the ASSOCHAM Report (The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) published in June 2013.

Like always, education is perceived as a long-term investment and financials are planned years in advance, particularly when one looks for superior education in notable and top-rated institutions abroad. Parents will also see to that there is no compromise on the quality of education to offset increasing cost of studying abroad. 

Therefore, fluctuation in rupee will not impact students' decision to defer or cancel their plans of studying abroad. Although the expenses have increased by about 3-4 lakhs, it has not impacted the decision making processes. Anxious students and parents take that extra effort in re-planning their funds to pursue their dream. The potential return that the foreign education gives is the biggest reason for students applying to foreign varsities.

Changing Perspective

Weakening rupee has definitely increased the burden on students. Rupee fluctuation has been a norm for many years now. Rupee value against dollar was about Rs 45 in 2010 and by 2012 it was at Rs 52 and further weakened to Rs 60 in early 2013.

Given this scenario, there were approximately 1,00,000 students travelling for their undergraduate studies to US and roughly about 55,000 students travelling to UK in 2012.   Many students usually factor in currency fluctuation in their study abroad education investment, though rupee has been on free fall recently, but the currency fluctuation is a factor of consideration when it comes to studying abroad.

Although Indian economic situation is not favorable at the moment, students are willing to bite the bait and take that extra financial burden on their education.  The efforts are worthwhile as US and UK provides the best and the most progressive education streams and more specifically US is known to offer dual majors and flexible choices during university studies. Not only excellent education, but they can also start earning through internships while studying.

Indian students have predominantly chosen the run of mill careers in Engineering, Medicine, Business or Law.  But now they have to wake up to new challenges.   Students now have to invest in education to be able to prepare themselves for the opportunities or jobs that do not exist today but they will come up in future.  Just as all the jobs around IT and computers just did not exist 20 years ago. 

Tackling the issue

Students can manage the fluctuating currency value by speaking to their respective banks for further loans. Now, banks have also introduced top – up schemes for education loan where they fill the gap created by the exchange rate fluctuation. If you have a relative in the destination country, you could probably take a loan from the local bank of that country as the interest rates would be much cheaper than India.

It would also give you an option to repay your loan in the same currency if you get employed in the same country after completing your education.

(The writer is an international education expert.)

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