The availability of jobs is a major attraction for students planning to study in the country.

With the U.S. yet to recover from the recession and many European countries facing a bleak future, students have started travelling Down Under for higher studies. Having been insulated from the economic crisis that has plagued most of the Western world for five years now, Australia has emerged as a hot destination for higher education. Reflecting this trend, students thronged the Australian Education fair organised by the IDP in Chennai on February 9.

At the fair were more than 25 universities, including top institutions like University of Melbourne, University of Western Australia and University of New South Wales. The fair gave the students a chance to meet with university representatives before submitting their applications. Students had registered for the event having attended a counselling session last month and had come prepared with filled-out applications. Walk-in students had an opportunity to get firsthand knowledge about study options in Australia with regards to courses, fees and other vital information.

Nischal Ramkumar, a mechanical engineering graduate from Anna University said, “Though U.S. universities are world renowned, the state of the economy is not very encouraging. Compared to that, the Australian economy is in a better shape and there are job opportunities as well.” Ramkumar, who is looking for courses in engineering management and industrial engineering,  added, “Some of the courses that are for two years in the U.S. are only for only one or one-and-half years in Australia, which evens out the higher cost of living in Australia.”

Engineering and technology-based courses are the most sought after across the board. Though scholarships are hard to come by for the masters degree, students still prefer Australia because of the job opportunities. Australia, unlike the UK or the US, offers jobs to students — with a masters degree — for up to two years.

Scholarships

Vinod Mirchandani, country manager (India) for Melbourne University, says, “The masters in engineering and technology-related courses are the most sought after. Design and biotechnology is also slowly finding traction among students.” With regards to scholarships, Mirchandani said, “Scholarships range from 10 per cent to 20 per cent at the undergraduate and postgraduate level.” The state of Victoria has the Victoria-India doctoral scholarship that is applicable in any of the nine of Victorian Universities where students can avail themselves to aid up to $90,000, he added.

Over the last few years, the number of students opting for PhD courses has increased especially in the areas of bio-technology and biological sciences.

To tap this market, students are given scholarships up to 100 per cent and even stipends. According to Paul Buist, Regional Manager for University of Western Australia (South Asia, Africa and Middle East) they have cut back funding on masters and concentrated on research.

Nitin Seshadri, who has a masters in bio-informatics from Edinburgh University, is planning to do his second masters in bio-technology.

He said, “Australia is the third in the world in terms of research next only to the U.S. and the Europe. So I am looking at research opportunities in the future and Australia offers good research-cum job opportunities.”

Buist said, “Indian students are now looking for research courses because of which we have better quality of students coming in. Students can avail themselves of work permit for four years which enables students to pay back their loans and also get international exposure.”