A trend that needs reversing
Going abroad to study, especially to do higher education or specialisation, has always been an attractive option for scores of Indian students who can afford it. And, this is not merely because quality education is unavailable in the country, but, for the sheer adventurism, the experience and exposure to other cultures. This, many a student feels, will help them in their endeavours for seeking better employment opportunities in foreign countries, as they would have acclimatised themselves well during their university life.
Similarly, students who study abroad, develop an international perspective both personally and academically. These exposures help them a lot when they return to India to take up a job or get into an entrepreneurial mode.
But, the fact does remain that, one of the contributing factors prompting the student to seek education abroad is the lack of quality infrastructure, faculty, curriculum, etc. in Indian colleges and universities. These factors reflect on the performance of the student when he passes out and goes for a job interview. “There is a huge need for well-trained teachers with the right attitude and passion for teaching at all levels,more so in the Skill Development sector. Only one in a hundred interviewed turns out as the right material.Then comes the moulding of the personality of the student itself.To do this we need to have a few inspiring models whom others can see and imbibe,” says N. HariharaSubramaniyan, Trustee, Swami Vivekananda Rural Community College (SVRCC) and Academic Committee Chairperson. “SVRCC is thus fortunate to have created a wonderful team of 25 teachers over the last 12 years - teachers who love their students and always go that extra mile to make them great. In other words, the selection,training and grooming are a huge and time-consuming process right now.Only an enlightened management backed up by passionate teachers can work miracles every day with the students - bringing success and fulfilment to every stake holder - the students, parents, employer, teacher and to the management,” says Subramaniyan who recommends that every institution should invest in training and retaining their faculty.
Although some premier institutions such as IITs and IIMs do attract the cream of Indian students, this constitutes only a small percentage of the large numbers all over the country who want to study in quality institutions for their future career security. It is a large percentage of this segment that looks to foreign shores, even to closer neighbours like Singapore, for instance.
“A study identifies India as the country that sends out the second largest number students abroad for higher studies. Some of us would remember seeing an interesting CNN video clip on a study which shows a set of IIT students being interviewed by other educationists and senior editors too. This clip actually conveys how some of these young kids along with their parents plan and dedicate themselves with such focused aim to get into IITs. And in comparison, how on failing to get into an IIT, some of them end up taking an offer from top notch campuses abroad as a back-up option. This story was documented probably some 20 years ago. This presents two distinctive scenarios to us. One is, how the world viewed our IITs and the quality that it still stands for. But the fact remains that it is a pity that we have only a few IITs around for hundreds of thousands of students for every calendar year, and only increasing. And on the other extreme, we have hundreds of colleges closing due to lack of quality in teaching, facilities and infrastructure. To add to this, as a developing country, with a chaotic growth in some industry sectors while others suffer slow or no growth, it only reflects uncertainties dominated by the culture, ideologies, political andeconomic conditions,” states Immanuel Raj Kumar, Head - Strategies and Solutions, EduPilots, a part of iAds& Events Group.
Immanuel further elaborates, “With the experience in organising some of the well-known international education fairs across India and interacting with students and parents, I can clearly say that the reasons for Indian students to look overseas for higher studies are the ones as stated earlier. Increasing number of students do not consider the local campuses even as an option in the current state. India used to be predominantly a PG market for the institutions abroad for student recruitment. But this is already changing, as more and more students are making this choice to go abroad for UG studies itself. And the parent community are shedding their anxiety and not hesitating to send their kids abroad. This is a radical shift in terms of how “Overseas Education” is viewed and desired by our students now.”
Harihara Subramaniyan feels that India has vast scope for the development and establishment of specific-education colleges and universities, focussing on certain future-proof subjects. These, he feels, will attract the ‘now and next’ generation of the student community who need not look towards foreign shores for their future employment needs. “India can truly create these extraordinary institutesin the following spheres of knowledge where we have a definite advantage and strength:Corporate Governance; Political Governance; Space and Rocket Science; Nano Technology; Arts and Dramatics; Wholistic Medicine and Wellbeing; Art of Living and Giving; Religions, Philosophies and Spirituality; Sustainable Environment and Co-Creation.We should invite the best minds in the country and abroad to form action committees and allocate funds and land to create at least one Centre of Excellence in the above fields in the next 3 yearsand I am sure we can start reversing the trend of students going abroad.Corporates can be encouraged to do their bit in this movement,” says Subramaniyan.
Immanuel Raj Kumar feels that, in the current scenario even our top-notch campuses do not feature in the international rankings. “It is a clear indication that we are losing out to foreign universities and colleges. Starting from curriculum, infrastructure, soft-skills, R & D opportunities, employability and the overall patterns, everything needs to be improved. The other factor is that there should be a change in the thought process among the student community to get into the non-conventional streams of study and on unique career choices. There are emerging technologies and other interesting streams such as AI in the academic realm of study and at the same time there are opportunities in entertainment, sports, culinary and other off beat careers too. The foreign campuses offer much better study opportunities in these streams and hence are attractive to Indian students.Increasing number of students see better opportunities abroad both in terms of exposure and in preparing themselves for a better career path,” says Raj Kumar.
Unless a dramatic overhauling is done to the educational system, both in the infrastructure and faculty spheres, India will continue to lose our bright students to foreign universities and thereby, to international corporates who are just waiting to grab them. A reversal in this trend has to start from the grassroots level and overseen by a proactive governmental department and educationists with a focussed initiative, set on arresting an alarming trend.