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Students when look around India for an advanced degree with international standards, they hardly find any. Hence, the only options they find are to move overseas to pursue higher education programmes. But again, such eagerness and enthusiasm are seen among students belonging to the tier 1 and tier 2 cities that are quite aware and updated about the procedures and the tricks of the trade. But for students belonging to places like Northeast which is cut off from the mainstream India lack information, hence find it difficult to make it to study abroad.  Roselin Kiro finds out the challenges faced by the small town students of North Eastern states to come out of the nutshell and make it big.


There is an increase in choosing to study abroad by the Indian post-graduate students over a period of time. The recent statistics from the U.S. Council of Graduate School shows that the offers of admissions to Indian post-graduate students are up 25 per cent for 2013-14 from the previous year, with an increase of nine per cent for all countries. Though for the Indian students, the most popular destination is U.S, other countries such as Germany, Canada and the U.K are also seeing significant increase from India.



Opportunities for students to study abroad

From Mahatma Gandhi to RBI Governor, Raghuram Rajan who have made or are still making impact on the Indian culture and history, have studied abroad. Pursuing higher education in a foreign university has always been a priority among many in our country. Due to the vast influence of western culture in our country, there has been continuous modification in the lifestyles of the people. Gone are the days when students used to find life quite difficult and different in the west. The culture, lifestyle, food, language, and the thought process almost everything seemed alien to them. But now due to globalisation, the young generation has adopted the western culture so well that even they have adopted the lifestyle of the west. Now culture shock is not a huge issue for most of the Indians who visit abroad with the help of a student visa.  A degree from a top foreign university is valued more in the Indian job market than a local degree. It is so, because, overseas programmes and departments are prestigious and have better facilities, laboratories and favourable culture of research.



Stumbling blocks

The world’s education system is under massive pressure to expand. The young generation of India has a huge appetite for education as the growth in the size of the middle class escalates; millions are increasingly looking to go for education abroad. It is predicted that by 2020, India will have the largest young population in the world and will have the second largest graduate talent pool, globally. But this growth is seen mostly among the students belonging to the metros.


When we find out the statistics of North East Indian students studying abroad, they are just a handful. Where lies the problem? According to Sachin Mahadik – ITM Director – International Operations, “The problems faced by the students applying for overseas studies, especially for students belonging to the NE region who are disconnected from the mainstream India, is lack of awareness about the choice of appropriate Institute/University with regards to the students’ chosen field of study.”


NE students lack encouragement and opportunities to take up studying abroad. While some students and their parents might not have realised the value of an international qualification, both students and their parents need to be made aware of the umpteen opportunities that one can get through an exposure to these foreign universities.



Finding out ways

It is important to create awareness among the student community about overseas education and its advantages. Study abroad fairs would be a welcome initiative. Sharing about the struggle in finding out ways to make it to U.S. for pursuing post-graduate degree, Ajay Gogoi, a student from Lakhimpur, Assam said, “It’s been two years that I am struggling to make it to US for my further studies. Each time I lag behind with different dilemma. Sometimes it is the problem with a visa, sometimes with the documentation, etc. Though it is disheartening at times but the struggle is on.”  Many aspirants with high hopes to pursue higher education from prestigious foreign universities are ignorant of the various procedures, formalities that one has to go through to make it to their dream destination.

Sachin Mahadik avowed, “I think what the small states of Northeast India require is regular career guidance fairs and seminars are to be held for the students and their parents as well. There is also a need for the media to take active participation by highlighting the means and methods to opt for a foreign university inculcating interest among the students.”



Most preferred destinations

Traditionally, Indian students have shown a preference for UK and USA as an overseas study destination. But in the past few years there has been considerable changes seen as other countries have also started attracting students. For instance, in 2011, significant number of students were enrolled in Canada (five percent), Japan (four percent), Russia (two percent) and Spain (one percent). Conversely, the market share of some of the most popular countries has decreased. The share of international students in the United States has dropped from 23 percent to 17 percent between 2000 and 2011, while the share of international students in Germany fell by three percent over the same period. English-speaking countries are more preferred by students, but it is now seen that even non-English-speaking countries have started offering courses in order to attract students.



Eligibility criteria

Eligibility criteria for students who opt to study abroad depend on the destination, chosen Institution and the level of study. Apart from basic qualifications, students are also required to undertake an English Language proficiency test like IELTS or TOEFL. Anybody who has completed class 12th is eligible to study abroad. One can also make it to foreign universities on the basis of academic prowess, extracurricular achievements, social service etc. With hard work and consistency, students can make a promising career by studying abroad.

Student visas are generally easy to get as long as the student proves his genuine desire to study and qualifies for the course chosen and has enough funds to manage his tuition fees and living costs. Depending on the country, visa arrangement might differ. For many countries students are awarded visa that is sponsored by the college. In many countries students are allotted a work visa for a specific period of time upon the completion of their studies.

The scope and opportunities for students opting to study abroad no doubt is a key to a bright and promising future. But in the North Eastern states of India things turn out to be little difficult. But all that students require is guidance, expert’s consultation along with the student’s keen desire to make it to his/her dream university. There is an urgent requirement of more consultancies to venture into the North Eastern parts of  India and come in collaboration with the universities and colleges to organise education fairs and seminars on overseas studies. In the age of fast paced communication, if the world has become a global village, of which we also advocate, “vasudheva kutumbakam”, its high time we the students of North East make our way into these internationally acclaimed universities.



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