Recession-Hit Countries Hope to Lure Students from India

It's that time of the year when Indian students start working on their plans to study overseas. And this time, foreign campuses and education authorities are anxiously waiting to see what the slowdown means for the number of Indians opting for overseas courses.

Till last year, these numbers to countries such as the U.S., Australia, Canada and the U.K., touched record highs. In 2008, there were 97,000 Indian students enrolled in Australia even as the U.K. issued 30,000 student visas here. Meanwhile, India became the leading source of foreign enrollment in the U.S., with a record 94,563 students during 2007-2008 . Similarly, about 3,000 Indian students went to Canadian institutions last year.

But things are not looking as bright this year with the global slowdown, and it is feared that many students may put off their overseas study plans. In fact, the total number of Indian student visa applications processed for the U.S. has already shown a decline of 14.3% between October 1, 2008 and January 2009.

It is too early to predict if there will be an overall fall in student visa applications, says U.S.-India Educational Foundation executive director Adam J Grotsky. "We are still seeing plenty of Indian students receiving admission to U.S. universities. However, we have heard from students that some schools have offered them less financial aid and scholarships than they expected and that could make them think twice."

"The picture will become clearer between April and July 2009 when most students apply for visas," he said. Jason Kenney, the Canadian minister for immigration, who was recently in India, too emphasizes that the focus this year will be on attracting a larger number of Indian students.

"We will be actively promoting our colleges in India. Among the advantages that Canada offers to Indian students is the fact that they get on the fast track to the job market and permanent residence," he says.

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