Business and commerce has elbowed out engineering to emerge as top choice for students keen to pursue undergraduate studies abroad.
In a survey done across 100 leading schools in the country, when it came to first course choice for overseas studies, a shade over 40% chose business and commerce; 28% chose engineering; and 16% picked computer science and IT. Biology, biotech and life sciences were also seen as viable and new emerging options, with about 1 in over 12 respondents or 8% indicating this as their first option course.
Maria Mathai, director of MMA Services which carried out the Indian Secondary Schools Survey, said the shift in preferences away from engineering was “big” for the Indian market, “given the predominance the course has enjoyed.”
Mathai said several factors may have influenced the students, including the growth of India’s economy and maturing of various sectors. “That’s probably naturally feeding into the aspirations of students seeking the most promising options for their future,” said Mathai. MMA Services is a study-abroad consulting firm. The study covered schools across all geographical regions in the country, Indian and international curriculum, day schools and residential ones.
However, the fact that engineering is still seen as a safe bet for a career came through clearly in the study. A higher percentage of students — 34% –picked engineering as the second option for overseas studies, if the first choice was not available. Another 32% voted for computer science and IT.
Hospitality and tourism, and animation and graphics design are also other strong alternative options seen in the results this year. Again, the rising attractiveness of these two streams seems to tie in with the growth of the service economy, which includes media and entertainment among its fastest-growing industries, added Mathai.
In terms of their preferred destination, 75% of the respondents ranked US as the first choice and despite the fact that the actual number of students going to the UK from India has been declining for the past four years, the country scored high on the aspiration list, standing as second choice for most students.
The study found that Australia ended up with the secondhighest volume of students from India, but on the aspirations list, it isn’t displacing any country soon. This year, Australia has reported a record surge in student admissions from India (15 %), but the preference scores in the survey tell a different story. Be it first choice, second choice or third choice, Australia figures as a distant third preference, with UK and Canada scoring higher.
Reputation of institutions seems to be determining country choices more than any other factor, and that applies to the country that is growing stronger as a preferred choice among Indians. Almost 35% respondents indicated that they will self-fund their education. International curriculum schools have always had more students who self-fund and that was seen in the survey, with 43%, of international curriculum respondents saying that they aren’t necessarily relying on scholarships for their international education.
Avnita Bir, director-principal of RN Podar School said, “Increasingly students are looking at Canada as an option. At school, we are offering science with business or economics or entrepreneurship and exposing our kids to commerce and business. So, we are seeing a lot of our science students too who want to take up business.”