Is There a New Wave of Indian Undergraduate Students Heading to the U.S.?

By Li Chang, WES Research & Advisory Services

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Dubbed Gen-Q, an increasing number of India’s college-age population (and their families) now have the financial wherewithal to fund an overseas education. However, Indian enrollments at U.S. institutions of higher education, especially at the undergraduate level, have been decreasing in recent years. Is there any evidence to suggest that this trend might be set to reverse?

More recent figures from World Education Services suggest that there might be a resurgence of interest underway, with the number of applications for credential evaluation received by WES from college-ready Indians (17-20 years old) growing significantly over the last two admissions cycles (Fall 2011 to Fall 2012).

Is There a New Wave of Indian Undergraduate Students Heading to the U.S.?

Given that international students apply for credential evaluation, on average, nine months to a year in advance of a new academic session, WES applications received in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2011 and the first quarter (Q1) of this year can be seen as leading indicators of student applicant interest for the Fall 2012 cycle. The number of WES applications from Q4’10 to Q1’11 in the relevant Indian age group grew by 47 percent (predictive for Fall 2011), followed by slower – but still significant – growth of 18 percent for Fall 2012 (Q4’11-Q1’12).

Several factors can be seen to have contributed to the recent growth, including an expanding  college-age population, an exploding number of High Net Worth Individuals (HNWI), domestic capacity constraints, and an increasing desire among Indian students for top quality higher educational experiences.  In contrast, slower percentage growth for the Fall 2012 application cycle might partially be explained by the almost 20 percent depreciation in the rupee. According to Rahul Choudaha, Director of WES’ Research and  Advisory  Services, the pipeline for Indian undergraduate enrollments, beginning in 2015, is set for more consistent and sustained growth. This growth will be driven by a combination of factors including  an expanded college-age population, ability to pay, and the slow rate of educational reform in  India.

Read a related WENR article on International Mobility Data Sources

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WES Research & Advisory Services offers research-based consulting solutions on student mobility, international enrollment, and transnational education.

See more at wes.org/RAS

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