A Deep Dive into the Number of Indians Studying Abroad (2022 Statistics)

A Deep Dive into the Number of Indians Studying Abroad (2022 Statistics)

Nowadays, the number of Indian students studying abroad has grown rapidly. According to a RedSeer report, it’s estimated that 1.8 million Indians will be spending US $85 billion on education overseas by 2024. Most of them are attracted by global professional opportunities and world-class universities. Interestingly, Gen Z’s are motivated by ‘self-dependence’ and ‘living life on their own terms.’ 

The numbers are expected to rise as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted across Australia, the UK, and the US. 

Let’s deep dive into education trends and statistics surrounding Indian students studying internationally. 

How many Indians go abroad for studies every year?

In the first three months of 2022, 133,135 students left India for academic pursuits, an increase from 2020 when 259,655 students studied abroad. In 2021, there were 4,44,553 Indians – an overall increase of 41% in just one year.

Why do Indians prefer to study in foreign countries?

India is second to China when it comes to students pursuing international courses. Apart from exciting research opportunities, most countries provide a stay back option on visas to foreign students for job search. The major draw is exposure to multiculturalism, among other factors listed below:

  • Attractive salary packages (44%)
  • High quality of education (33%)
  • Pursue niche courses (17%)
  • Gain international exposure (6%)

Which Indian states send most students abroad?

  • Andhra Pradesh (12%)
  • Punjab (12%)
  • Maharashtra (11%)
  • Gujarat (8%)
  • Tamil Nadu (7%)
  • Karnataka (5%) 

As you can see from the data above, most students from Andhra Pradesh, Punjab, and Maharashtra migrate abroad, which are among the richest Indian states with presumably high awareness of the benefits of foreign education.

What are the most popular countries for international students from India? 

As of January 2021, 1.09 million Indian students were studying in 85 countries. A majority of them prefer anglophone nations.

DestinationNumber of Indian students
Canada198750
United States193124
Australia90918
UK27915
China23198
New Zealand13015

We did a country-wise comparison of the top 4 study destinations. Here are our key findings.

1. Canada 

Canada’s Post-Graduation Work Permit Program (PGWPP) attracts Indian students in hordes. Out of 70,000 Indians who received their PGWPP in 2020, 98% got their permit approved. The PGWPP allows them to earn points for the Comprehensive Ranking System (CRS)—opening up a path for permanent residency.

How many students apply to Canada from India?

  • 217,410 Indian students applied in 2021. 
  • 255,000 Indian students applied in 2020.
  • 175,000 Indian students applied in 2019.

Over 41,000 study permits were accepted between January and March 2022. Presumably, India may break last year’s record of 139,058 permits approved. In 2020, a whopping 217,410 Indians were approved to study in Canada. For perspective, in 2019, this figure was a paltry 139,000. 

Which are the top study destinations in Canada?

RegionUniversityWorld rankingIndian student volumeAcceptance rate
TorontoUniversity of Toronto262,082 43%
MontrealMcGill University2776333.6%
VancouverUniversity of British Columbia4672652.4%
WaterlooUniversity of Waterloo1491,03153%
HamiltonMcMaster University1401,22258.7%

2. USA

USA offers a lucrative 12-month work authorisation to F-1 Indian students called Optional Practical Training (OPT). In 2020-21, nearly 43.9% of Indian students received OPT. The US is also home to the world’s leading research labs– 350 at UCLA and 1,200 at Yale University.

How many students apply to the US from India?

  • 100,000 Indian students applied in 2022 (until June).
  • 167,582 Indian students applied in 2021. 
  • 167,000 Indian students applied in 2020.
  • 193,000 lakh Indian students applied in 2019.

More than 55,000 Indians have been approved to study in the US in 2022. As was expected, the number of Indians who received US study permits dropped to 62,000 in 2020 from 70,060 in 2021 owing to the impact of the pandemic.

Which are the top study destinations in the US?

RegionUniversityWorld rankingIndian student volumeAcceptance rate
BostonMassachusetts Institute of Technology13684.1%
San FranciscoStanford University35007.7%
ChicagoUniversity of Chicago104126.5%
New YorkColumbia University191,1346.08%
Los AngelesUniversity of California4058614.4%

3. Australia

In 2022, the Australian government incentivised Indian students by relaxing work restrictions. Currently, there are no barriers to the number of hours they can work while studying. It also has extended work stay periods and post-study visa work duration from 2 to 3 years.

How many students apply to Australia from India?

  • 66,000 Indian students applied in 2022 (until March).
  • 52,500 Indian students applied in 2021.
  • 24,888 Indian students applied in 2020.
  • 32,603 Indian students applied in 2019.

As of March 13, 2022, more than 25,000 Indian students have been accepted to study in Australia. This is a sharp rise from 2021, when 15,310 permits were approved. The pandemic affected the second half of 2019-2020 though, as the total approved Australian student visas declined to 32%. 

Which are the top study destinations in Australia?

RegionUniversityWorld rankingIndian student volumeAcceptance rate
ParkvilleThe University of Melbourne372,00070%
SydneyUniversity of New South Wales431,20030%
BrisbaneThe University of Queensland4779840%
AdelaideThe University of Adelaide1089,00075%
WollongongUniversity of Wollongong1931,000+30%

4. UK

The UK government has made immigration liberal for Indian undergraduate and postgraduate students. It launched a new graduate visa on January 1, 2021, enabling them to work for 2 years in the UK after completing their studies (3 years for Ph.D. students). A job offer is not required to apply for the permit.

How many students apply to the UK from India?

  • 8,660 Indian students applied in 2022 (until February).
  • 53,015 Indian students applied in 2020.
  • 41,815 Indian students applied in 2019.

As of March 2020, 50,000 Indian students were approved to study in the UK. This is a far cry from 2019, when only 37,500 students received the UK study permits. This figure stood at 20,000 in the year 2018. 

Which are the top study destinations in the UK?

RegionUniversityWorld rankingIndian student volumeAcceptance rate
OxfordUniversity of Oxford238117.5%
CambridgeUniversity of Cambridge3190121%
LondonImperial College725014.3%
ManchesterThe University of Manchester2757070.4%
CoventryThe University of Warwick6174114%

What are the most popular undergraduate courses in the UK for Indian students?

According to AECC Global, most Indians migrate to the UK to pursue an undergraduate degree in Business, Management, Maths, or Computer Science.

S.No.Undergraduate courses in the UK
1. Business 
2.Management
3.Maths
4.Computer Science
5.Medicine
6.Biological Sciences
7.Social Studies
8.Creative Arts
9.Languages
10.Physical Sciences

Key insights:

  • 44% of Indians in the UK study Management and Business.
  • Indian students studying Business in the UK have risen by 5% in 2019-20 since 2016-17.
  • Computer Science and Maths come at a close second, at 17%.
  • The number of Indians pursuing Computer Science and Maths grew from 7% in 2017-2018 to 17% in 2019-2020.

What are the most popular postgraduate courses in the UK for Indian students?

In 2020, Indians thronged to pursue their postgraduate degree in IT or Communications. Both sectors offer them strong employment opportunities in the UK. The new UK immigration scheme is an added incentive. Previously, postgraduates could only stay for 4 months in the UK to find a job. The UK administration relaxed its visa restrictions in 2021 in light of the nationwide labour shortage.

SpecialisationDegree typeDuration
IT Security ManagementM.Sc1.5 yrs
Strategic IT ManagementM.Sc1.5 yrs
Cyber SecurityM.Sc2 years
Digital MediaM.Sc1 year
International AffairsMaster2 years
Medical EducationMaster1 year
Master of Business AdministrationM.B.A.1.5 years
Masters of Science M.Sc1 year
EconomicsM.Sc1 year
Finance M.Sc1 year

What are the most popular industries for Indian students internationally?

In 2019, traditional industries like Engineering, Technology, and Business saw a massive student influx from India to the UK.

But in 2022, the trend has changed, with off-beat courses like Game Development, Ecotechnology, and Marine Engineering gaining precedence. These courses are not as popular in India yet, so students prefer moving to the UK.

According to Western Union’s Report on education overseas, 52% of Indian students intend to study Artificial Intelligence, Digital Marketing, Ethical Hacking, and Cyber Security in the UK.

Vaibhav Singh, the co-founder of study abroad platform Leap Scholar, agrees:

“Advanced digital skill-based courses that have seen a jump in demand include the likes of Machine Learning, Data Analytics, Cloud Computing, etc. among others. Students are looking for courses that are niche, but gaining prominence in the professional world and can offer exciting career opportunities.”

What are the most popular university courses for Indian students abroad?

In the academic year 2020-21, the most popular fields of study for Indians were Business and Management, Engineering, Mathematics, and Computer Science. 

Key insights:

  • 78% of Indian students in the US study STEM subjects.
  • In 2020-21, 1 in every 3 Indian students studied Maths, Computer Science, or Engineering in the US.
  • Canada approved 43,000 Indians to study Business and Management in 2021, an increase from 2016 when there were 11,000 students.
  • Management and Business gained a 12% market share between 2016 and 2021.

How much does it cost for Indian students to study abroad?

As per Western Union’s Report, budget plays a crucial factor in the decision-making process of Indian students planning to study overseas. 47% of them prefer short-duration courses, like diplomas, due to high international tuition fees. 

Below, we have the segregation of tuition fees by higher education levels and countries.

CountryBachelor’s degree (per year)Master’s degree (per year)
Canada$22,500-50,000$21,014-35,000
United States$26,000-50,000$20,000-35,000
Australia$14,393-32,384$15,832-35,982
UK$13,150-34,190$15,030-25,050
China$1,665-3,030$4,200-13,760
Germany$0-26,300$0-36,000
France$200-3,272$287-4,453
Spain$802-23,577$1,179-23,577

Wrap up

A surprising trend among Indian students studying abroad is a preference for specialised courses. 52% of students intend to seek niche courses. 
But qualifying language exams remain a barrier for 64% of aspirants. Check out our widely accepted and flexible English Language Level Test, if you’re planning to start your study abroad journey.

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