Though the falling rupee has tilted the balance against students planning to study abroad, it does not outweigh the advantages, which are significant.
The scope of studying abroad has expanded over the years. Thanks to globalisation, students can now access the best of universities across the world. Studying abroad definitely provides students a macro-understanding of the world and keeps them highly competitive.
You can improve your understanding of global culture, economics and their inter-dependencies. You gain a different view of international affairs, politics and social issues. You may develop a new academic interest or perspective on your major while you are abroad. A stint at a university abroad allows you to study subjects that are not available at your home country. It gives you more than a nice boost to your resume and improves your post-graduate employment prospects, particularly if you’re considering a career in business, international affairs or government services.
Students and parents are aware that the cost of education has been on the rise ever since the rupee has been sliding. With the fluctuation in currency, students will have to shell out 15 per cent to 20 per cent more on everything, from their fees and education loan to living expenses, which could in turn increase the financial burden.
Although the fall in the rupee seems to have shaken the aspiration of students willing to study abroad, it has not shattered their dreams altogether, says the ASSOCHAM Report (The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India) published in June. As always, education is perceived as a long-term investment and financials are planned years in advance, particularly when one looks for superior education in notable and top-rated institutions abroad. Parents will also see that there is no compromise on the quality of education to offset the increasing cost of studying abroad. Therefore, the fluctuation in the rupee will not impact students’ decision to defer or cancel their plans of studying abroad. Although the expenses have increased by about Rs. 3 - 4 lakh, it has not impacted the decision-making processes. Anxious students and parents are making that extra effort to re-organise their funds to pursue their dream. The potential return that foreign education gives is the biggest reason for students applying to foreign varsities.
The weakening rupee has definitely increased the burden on students. Rupee fluctuation has been a norm for many years now. Rupee value against dollar was about Rs.45 in 2010 and by 2012 it was at Rs.52 and it further weakened to Rs.60 in early 2013. Given this scenario, there were approximately 1,00,000 students travelling to the U.S. for their undergraduate studies and roughly about 55,000 students travelling to the U.K. in 2012. Many students usually factor in currency fluctuation into their study-abroad education investment. Though the Indian economic situation is not favourable at the moment, students are willing to bite the bullet and take that extra financial burden. The efforts are worthwhile as the U.S. and the U.K. provide the best and the most progressive education streams, and more specifically, the U.S. is known to offer dual majors and flexible choices during university studies. It is not only for the excellent education, students can also start earning through internships while studying.
Indian students have predominantly chosen run of the mill careers in Engineering, Medicine, Business or Law. But now they have to wake up to new challenges. Students now have to invest in education to be able to prepare themselves for the opportunities or jobs that do not exist today but will come up in future. Just as all the jobs around IT and computers did not exist 20 years ago.
Students can manage the fluctuating currency value by speaking to their respective banks for further loans. Now, banks have also introduced top-up schemes for education loans where they fill the gap created by the exchange rate fluctuation. If you have a relative in the destination country, you could probably take a loan from the local bank in that country; as the interest rates would be much cheaper than in India. It would also give you an option to repay your loan in the same currency, if you get employed in the same country after completing your education.
The writer is Product Manager, EF International Academy.