With campus placements improving and the economy looking up in the “spill-over” days of the recession, one would have thought that those who are about to start their undergraduate course will be happy about this trend and go with the flow.

But, the student crowd that thronged The Hindu Education Plus Education Fair 2010, held for the first time in Coimbatore on Wednesday, told an entirely different story. Even with fairly good jobs and quality education in India, the 2,500-odd visitors to the fair stood testimony to the fact that studying abroad still remained a craze.

Though the favourites of the day were Information Technology, engineering, biotechnology, management, and animation, there were universities and academies offering courses from dance and aviation to medicine and health studies, which too drew many enquiries. Of the 2,500, there were more than 1,200 students who registered, showing their earnestness about the course and university they were interested in.

For such an enthusiastic turnout, the fair with 30-odd stalls comprising universities, educational consultants, and a bank, turned out to be a boon, offering options with many countries, universities, and courses, to choose from. Students and parents had to wait their turn at each stall to talk to representatives.

A parent said she had to talk to representatives in most of the stalls because all the participants were genuine and not institutions which were of run-of-the-mill quality.

The University of Bradford, the U.K., with its bachelors, masters' and research programmes in health studies, informatics, and life sciences, Birmingham City University, the U.K., with its job-ready vocational programmes in automotive, and mechanical engineering, and Stratford University, the U.S., with its special focus on telecommunications and software engineering, were a big draw.

University of Alabama, Huntsville, the U.S., was promoting the two five-year integrated programmes for undergraduates – Mechanical Aerospace Engineering, and Business Management. Representatives of RACUS, a private organisation representing Russian State universities, said the universities were offering medical and dental courses for 20 per cent of the total fee. “The Russian Government bears 80 per cent of the fee for international students,” Maria Postolovskaya, said. Hence, a candidate with only 50 per cent aggregate and with no GRE score could do a course in medicine, dentistry, business management, or engineering, in a Russian State university.

Just like any other stall, eager parents swarmed the stall put up by State Bank of India (SBI) keen to know about the education loans available for students going abroad.

S. Venkataraman, Regional Manager, Region I, SBI, said for students going abroad the loan amount went up to Rs. 20 lakh at 11.75 per cent interest. “This will be given against a collateral. Students get a grace period of a year on completion of the course. After that they are given a seven-year repayment period,” he said. Many walked out with the options they needed to make the right decisions to join the bandwagon of Indians studying abroad.

Keywords: Higher studies

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