Home » Study abroad: US, UK, Canada, Germany, Australia — which is the best country for Indian students in terms of education cost, scholarships, jobs?

Study abroad: US, UK, Canada, Germany, Australia — which is the best country for Indian students in terms of education cost, scholarships, jobs?

Many people dream of pursuing higher education from prestigious universities overseas for a fruitful career. However, not all are successful in achieving this dream. The obstacles are many — finding a good institution, identifying the right course, qualifying and securing admission, getting a visa, arranging finances, doing well in studies, securing a good job and getting permission to stay and work in your country of choice. If you are planning to go abroad for higher studies, you should have a good understanding of all the available options before selecting the best one.

We tell you about the 5 most popular countries Indian students prefer to go for higher studies and what these countries offer in terms of education opportunities, finances and jobs.

The United States of America (USA)

The USA still remains one of the most preferred higher education destinations for Indian students.

Neha Sethi, Chief Financial Officer, Prodigy Finance, says, “According to Open Door’s reports, the United States remains the most popular choice for many students who want to study abroad. Indian students make up more than 25% of the over one million foreign students studying in the United States in the academic year 2022-23, totaling 268,923.”

The list of courses students prefer is very long. Sethi points out that the USA attracts students from various disciplines, ranging from computer science and business to cutting-edge fields like machine learning. “But what makes the USA different is the emphasis on practical experience. Many US universities incorporate internships or cooperative education programmes directly into their engineering and technology programmes. These opportunities frequently serve as a springboard for students’ careers, allowing them to gain practical experience and learn how to deal with real-world problems before completing their higher education,” she says .Also read: Is the NRI dream fading? Find out how it is becoming more difficult for Indians seeking higher education, jobs abroad However, the most critical factor that matters for students is job prospects. The country scores on this front too. “The USA promises higher salaries and career growth opportunities as a lot of American companies are at the forefront of innovation in a variety of sectors,” says Dirghayu Kaushik, Co-founder & CEO, Ambitio.

The most important factor to consider here is location, he says. “Some locations have come to be the hub for certain types of jobs, after getting a certain kind of degree (let’s say tech). Don’t hesitate to invest a little more to go to a university in California, the east coast (around NYC, Boston, DC), North Carolina, Texas or Illinois. These areas of the USA are the best regions for jobs,” says Kaushik.

Visa norms for stay-back after studies: The opportunity to stay back in a country after completing a course there determines the career prospects of the student. “In the US, a 3-year Optional Practical Training (OPT) on a student visa is available for master’s degrees classified as STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). During these 3 years, your company will apply for your H1B visa each year; and if you get H1B, you can have a longer stay-back period. If you pursue a non-STEM course, that OPT period is only for 1 year,” says Kaushik.

However, when it comes to long-term stay and citizenship, the path may not be easy. “Getting a green card is a long-drawn process. The H1B (work visa) visa follows a lottery system. Though most STEM graduates secure an H1B, you will be on a visa that is dependent on the company that has employed you. The daily grind may become too real,” cautions Kaushik.

Things you should be watchful about: Cost of education is one of the most critical factors you should be careful about.“The USA is expensive. Depending on the university, you will likely spend upwards of Rs 35 lakh at least on a master’s degree. That can go up to Rs 70 lakh at a lot of top private universities and Ivy League schools,” says Kaushik.

Unless you are very sure of getting a good job after studies, taking an education loan for these courses could become a big burden afterwards.

Earning while studying is also not very easy there. “The USA only allows you to work within the university campus on a F1 student visa. Yes, every other friend or cousin of yours working at department stores as an international student in the USA is doing something illegal,” says Kaushik.

Staying far away from home for a long period could be another big challenge for students from India. “Home sickness is very common among students studying abroad. They will also face cultural differences. With time and exposure, students will become familiar with the cultural differences,” says Sethi.

The United Kingdom (UK)

The United Kingdom is also one of the most preferred choices for Indian students going for a foreign degree. “The UK has globally recognised universities and offers great work opportunities for graduates,” says Sethi.

The capital city of the UK has played a big role in making the country a student-friendly destination. “London has a rich culture and values that attract students from all over the world, making London the top choice not only for Indian students but for students all over the world. In 2023, the UK granted 120,110 sponsored study visas to Indian students, which is a substantial increase from the previous years,” says Sethi.

London has been a popular destination for Indian students for many decades, he points out. “Notably, Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation, pursued his legal education at University College London from 1888 to 1891. A LLM course from London — and also business and finance studies — has always had a good reputation among students.”

Visa norms for stay-back after studies: In the UK, students get a 2-year stay-back period known as Post Study Work (PSW).

Things you should be watchful about: After Brexit, many things have changed in the UK. So the current prospects may not match your expectations. “The fact remains that the number of jobs available in the UK is still limited,” says Kaushik. “Before the new PSW, students often struggled to get a job because of the tight timelines. Along with the new stay-back period came other geopolitical factors that make it difficult for companies there to hire international students. One of them being a nationalist policy that defines the base pay for an international student. So if the company can hire domestic candidates for less than the base pay, the market indirectly becomes unfavourable for international students.”

Be very selective when selecting a course, advise experts. “The UK is a good destination for MBAs and finance grads with solid prior work experience. But the number of jobs available in the UK for a variety of other sectors is very limited. Hence, the course you pick becomes extremely important,” explains Kaushik.

Students should also keep in mind that they would miss Indian food. “While it may be tempting to eat that burger and fries in India, you will undoubtedly miss maa ki hath ka khana when you are far away from home,” says Sethi.

Canada

When it comes to options and ease of admission, Canada is one of the most sought-after destinations for Indian students. Sethi says over 319,130 students study there currently. While there are plenty of course options, she points out that accounting, MBA, management, civil & environmental engineering, and finance are some of the courses paving the way for better job prospects.

Canada’s job market is pretty immigrant-friendly and sees demand for certain courses but others would fare poorly on this count, says Kaushik. So while it might be easy for students to stay back, getting a job might be tough.

You need to be very careful when selecting a course and the institution. “Be sure to pick a university with a good reputation and in a good location. Typically, you want to be in and around Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary. Often, the competition for admission to these schools might be higher as a lot of candidates apply but the number of schools is limited,” says Kaushik.

Visa norms for stay-back after studies: Canada has a Permanent Residency (PR) system that makes permanent immigration easy. This eliminates the uncertainties that come with working abroad after going there on a student visa.

Things you should be watchful about: Harsh winters may cause students to rethink their choices. Kaushik says that while a degree from Canada would be cheaper, the salaries are also lower. “Also, jobs can be very hard to come by for certain sectors. Hence, you don’t want to be sitting on a visa without a job.”

Germany

Germany is one of the most welcoming countries for Indian students. “Germany is home to some top reputable universities that are recognised globally. With its high success rate in student visas, this country is becoming popular, especially among Indian students,” says Sethi.

Indian students prefer Germany because it has a combination of world-class universities, minimal tuition fees and a low visa rejection rate.

According to Yocket’s research from 2022 and 2023, German student visas for India have a success rate of approximately 90%, says Sethi. This means a rejection rate of 10%.

Though Germany is famed for engineering, the country offers a variety of courses.

The scope of post-study work depends on the student’s profile more than the university. “The quality of education is fairly constant across German universities,” says Kaushik. “This makes the German job market neutral towards the university you graduate from. As a result, the individual profile of students comes out as a more pronounced factor. Also, the student should be careful about the course they’re going for.”

Visa norms for stay-back after studies: Germany has an 18-month stay-back period. “A job will allow the student to stay on for longer. Also, in Germany, students can work wherever they please outside the university — like restaurants, gas stations or anywhere else — while studying,” says Kaushik. So earning while studying becomes easier.

Things you should be watchful about: Language is a big issue for Indian students.”Do not go to Germany without gaining proficiency in German. Yes, English is the medium of instruction in most German universities. But convincing an employer to give a job in Germany without knowing German is quite a task. The student’s resume, cover letters and even interviews might be in German,” says Kaushik.

As for long-term job prospects, students are eligible to apply for a German PR only if they find employment in a field related to their studies. “That’s the reason why students should only select courses that offer greater opportunities in Germany. The likelihood of students finding a job related to their studies will also improve greatly if they go to Germany with relevant work experience. Without ticking these boxes, finding a job in Germany might be hard,” says Kaushik.

Australia

Many students from India prefer Australia for higher education because of its quality education system and work placements. “According to the Australian Government’s Department of Education, India remains the second-largest source country for international student enrolments in Australia, with a total of 109,989 students so far. This number is increasing day by day. Public health, accounting, MBA, medicine and healthcare are some popular courses students are choosing to study in Australia,” says Sethi.

The country offers excellent job prospects for graduates, especially in engineering, IT and healthcare, says Kaushik. “The country’s education system is aligned with market needs, making its graduates highly employable.”

Visa norms for stay-back after studies: “Graduates can apply for the Temporary Graduate visa (subclass 485), allowing them to stay and work in Australia for 2-4 years after graduation. This period can be crucial for securing permanent employment and applying for a work visa or permanent residency,” says Kaushik.

Things you should be watchful about: While Australia provides a welcoming environment for international students, success in the job market can be competitive and may require local qualifications or certifications, depending on the profession. “Networking plays a crucial role in the job market,” says Kaushik. “Despite Australia’s multicultural policy and its image as a diverse and welcoming nation, incidents of racism and discrimination do occur and can affect international students.”

Stricter visa requirements and enhanced English language tests are also a deterrent for some students.

Best financial assistance like scholarship and loan that you can get

If you are looking to study abroad with financial help from scholarships and loans, here are the things you should be know.

USA: “I would say the first choice would be the USA,” says Sethi. “There are many scholarships specifically designed for Indian students, including the Fulbright-Nehru Scholarship and the Tata Scholarship for Cornell.”

Kaushik explains that a few universities in the US are “need blind in nature” and offer upfront financial aid when the student is able to provide the appropriate financial documents. “In addition to this, most PhD programmes in the US are fully funded and on top of this, students receive a stipend as well which is more than sufficient to take care of their living expenses,” he says.

Germany: The DAAD scholarships are highly prestigious and offer comprehensive coverage for various degrees, including postgraduate studies, says Kaushik. Similarly, the Heinrich Boll Foundation Scholarship covers not only tuition but also a monthly allowance, health insurance and more, he says.

Canada: “In Canada, the Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship is particularly notable for doctoral students, covering tuition, living expenses and other costs. University-specific scholarships, like those at the University of Toronto, offer significant support for both undergraduate and graduate students,” says Kaushik.

Australia: The Australia Awards Scholarships provide comprehensive benefits, including full tuition, living expenses and travel costs for students from selected countries. The Research Training Program (RTP) also offers substantial support for postgraduate research qualifications.

Getting education loan has become quite easy now a days with many financial institutions offer finance for overseas study to all deserving students. However, you need to be careful before taking a loan as the education cost is high. You should be very sure about post study earning prospects when you decide the course and quantum of loan.