Despite the steep rise in living and rental costs abroad, Indian candidates are enrolling in overseas education at a higher rate due to increased awareness, funding, and perception of the value of some of these courses.

Demand is coming not only from the major metros but also increasingly from tier-II and tier-III cities.

According to industry experts, there has been close to a 25-30 per cent surge in enrolments from candidates for overseas education across various countries including Germany, Australia, the US, the UK, and Canada on a year-on-year basis.

There has been a steep surge in the cost of living and rentals in some of these countries to the tune of 20-30 per cent in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war and high inflationary trends. Demand for courses in data analytics, artificial intelligence and machine learning, technology, and computer sciences has grown.

Despite the fact that there is a huge pent-up demand from candidates who applied for courses during the pandemic but were unable to pursue them at the time due to the ban on international travel, fresh applications and enrollments are on the rise from students looking to go overseas for more opportunities and exposure to the world.

Better opportunities

According to Rittika Chanda Parruck, Director Education, British Council India, the advantages of studying abroad for both personal and professional development are still quite substantial. Students who study abroad may have access to cutting-edge research and technology, first-rate facilities and resources, as well as a wide variety of academic programmes and possibilities.

Indian nationals remain the second largest student community in the UK and as many as 1,60,970 study visas were issued to Indian students in the year ending September 2022. This is 78 per cent higher than in the previous year (2021) and 330 per cent higher compared to the same period in 2019, Parruck pointed out.

Edtech firms driving awareness

Neeti Sharma, Co-founder and President, TeamLease Edtech, told businessline, “There has been a spike in demand due to increased awareness and reach of these programmes in tier-II and tier-III cities, particularly post-pandemic, supported by a variety of courses offered by many edtech companies. The perceived value of the outcome of these programmes is so high that parents want to go that extra mile (to get their children enrolled).”

upGrad Abroad, the overseas education division of ed-tech firm upGrad, is expecting 100 per cent growth in business this year. The platform had enrolled nearly 1,000 students in the first year of its operation. It is now looking to enrol 4,000 students this year and 10,000 by next year, said Ankur Dhawan, President, upGrad Abroad.

A number of edtech platforms focusing on study abroad programmes have come up during and post-pandemic periods, particularly with a focus on tier-II and tier-III towns. This, coupled with the availability of funding support from banks, NBFCs, and new-age start-ups has helped create traction, said Mayank Maheshwari, Co-Founder and COO, University Living, a global student housing marketplace.

“Some of these edtech platforms have gone deeper into the markets and so information is now more easily available to aspirants. We have witnessed close to 15-20 per cent surge in enquiries and enrolments for each of the overseas markets including UK, Australia, Canada and even to some European countries,” he said.

Foreign remittances and education

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in her Budget speech mentioned that the rate of TCS for foreign remittances for education and medical treatment will continue to be 5 per cent for remittances in excess of ₹7 lakh. Also, the rate of TCS on foreign remittances for the purpose of education through a loan from financial institutions will continue to be 0.5 per cent in excess of ₹7 lakh.

However, for foreign remittances for other purposes under LRS and the purchase of overseas tour programmes, it is proposed to increase the rates of TCS from 5 per cent to 20 per cent. But the industry feels there is still some ambiguity in this and only when they see the fine print, it would be clear if it applies for all education overseas and to what extent.