Study Overseas: Part-1 | ‘Cost’ fails to deter Punjab students from going abroad – The Indian Express

The income of people may have taken a hit post-pandemic, but contrastingly, the trend of studying abroad – a costly affair – in India appears to be growing by leaps and bounds, especially in northern states such as Punjab where the consultants say that more than 40% of all students who migrated from India to foreign countries are from the “food bowl of India”.
“This trend of studying abroad has no end because in Punjab there is huge unemployment, and parents see no future for their children here where the problem of drug addiction has only compounded the woes. In such a situation, the immigration industry has become quite huge in the state,” said a Jalandhar-based consultant.
Last year, nearly 4.60 lakh study visas had been issued by the big four countries (the US, the UK, Canada and Australia) – which are the major study destinations of international students – to Indian students. Also, thousands of students had migrated to other European countries and New Zealand and this had raised the number of Indian students going overseas to nearly 5 lakh in just one year.
According to the British High Commission, the UK had issued 1,17,965 sponsored study visas to Indian students in one year till June 2022, which is an increase of 215% compared to 2019 when only 37,396 sponsored study visas were issued. Canada’s home department had issued 2.17 lakh study visas to Indian students in the past one year, while the US issued over 82,000 student visas in 2022.
According to the media reports, the government in Australia revealed that the number of new student arrivals from India between July 2021 and June 2022 – the Australian financial year – had dipped marginally compared to 45,000 recorded in 2019, but the size of new Indian student cohort Down Under has shown growth compared to new arrivals from China.
“A large number of students from Punjab and Haryana have migrated to the UK this year for studying abroad because of the 100% success rate of visas from there,” said Chitresh Dhawan, owner of Dhawan Educational Consultancy.
Punjab has a large number of IELTS (International English Language Testing System) centres for conducting courses in English proficiency, as clearing IELTS is compulsory for studying abroad. Also, several PTE (Pearson Test of English) centres have come up. A good number of students are also appearing for PTE. The PTE Academic exam is a computer-based English test accepted by educational institutions around the world. It is a test for non-native English speakers who wish to study abroad. It tests the reading, writing, listening and speaking skills of the candidates.
In the IELTS course also, students are trained in four spheres – reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
According to the Punjab government estimates, nearly 6 lakh Punjabi students undergo the IELTS training every year; more than 60,000 students appear for the IELTS exam every month, while thousands take PTE exam as well. The IELTS exam is conducted four times a month and students are enrolled for a period of 15 days to three months at such centres. While bright students even clear their exams after training for two weeks, others train for three months before taking the exam.
Before the Covid-19 outbreak, there were around 17,500 IELTS centres in Punjab, including more than 2,200 in the Doaba region only, the NRI belt of the state comprising four districts – Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur. In Jalandhar alone, there are around 1,550 such centres.
“And now several ‘home tutors’ are also available to train students for IELTS,” consultant Gurpreet Singh of Kapurthala-based i-Can consultancy said, adding that there is a big share of students from Punjab who are going to Canada, Australia and the UK.
He said that at present, no region of the state is left untouched by this craze for studying abroad, and students from all over the state are going overseas now.
Narpat Babbar, another consultant, said that the courses in Canada are quite diverse “as colleges design the curriculum as per the future needs of the various sectors because of which placement is also easy for the students”.
Students can appear any number of times for the IELTS exams. Most students take 2-3 chances to clear the exam.
The exams are conducted by the British Council and International Development Programme (IDP) under Cambridge University, which provides certification for IELTS worldwide.
Main cities and rural belts are flooded with advertisements of such IELTS centres and also there is a huge rush of students to such centres. Similarly, the PTE exam is also conducted several times a month.
These centres also put up big hoardings carrying the photographs of those clearing such exams after getting coaching from them.
The previous Punjab government had initiated a new idea of imparting IELTS coaching through Government Industrial Training Institutes (GITI) in synergy with Cambridge University Press India.
Every student who gets a study permit must arrange for his/her first-year fee and living expenses – which would cost the student at least Rs 20 lakh depending on the course, university, college as well as the country he/she chooses to study.
Most of the students manage the rest of the course fee by themselves while working along with their studies abroad.
“The first-year fee and living expenses are estimated to be in billions. The outflow of funds from India every year is huge and Punjab’s share is pretty big in it,” a Jalandhar-based immigration consultant on the condition of anonymity said, adding that international students’ fee is four to five times higher than the native students in almost every country.
“Fee is high because colleges and universities in foreign countries have a strong network with the consultancies, which fetch students for these institutes and get heavy commission in return,” said a Jalandhar-based consutltant.
But the heavy cost is not a deterrent for these students.
“Students from Punjab will not stop going there because it is a legal way to enter the countries of their dream and pave the way for their permanent settlement there,” he added.
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Anju Agnihotri ChabaAnju is a Jalandhar (Punjab)-based Assistant Editor with The Indian Ex… read more

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