An overseas education does not seem to enthuse many these days. And it’s not just the falling rupee that is to blame.

Changing employment patterns and rising fees overseas have caused the dent over the last five years. The trend is likely to continue in 2013 too.

While the number of student visas issued by the US and the UK has seen a sharp drop during the period, Australia has made marginal recovery from over the initial years. Canada is the only country that has seen a steady, yet not a steep, rise.

In comparison to 37,149 US visas issued in 2008, only 23,446 were issued in 2012. Britain is the biggest loser with only 15,097 getting visas in 2012 while it was 27,871 in 2008. Interestingly, the country’s number stood at 58,158 in 2009 before the slump came. Australia was considered ‘the’ destination in 2008, with 39,060 getting their visas stamped. The number dropped to just 5,519 in 2012.

New Zealand, emerging as another popular option, saw 5,550 students getting visas compared to 4,468 in 2008. Meanwhile, Canada witnessed constant rise in such visas issued – from 3,219 in 2008 to 13,000 in 2012.

“The sliding rupee value will have an even bigger impact in the next academic year,” predicts Ravi Lochan Singh, managing director at consultancy Global Reach. The US-bound are likely to number the same, while the figure for UK will see a huge dip. Canada, New Zealand and Australia are likely to see a marginal rise.

UK visa numbers are down due to withdrawal of post-study work opportunities and the issue of recognition to the one-year Masters’ degree from Britain. Fresh norms state that students can work in Britain only if their job fetches 21,000 pounds ($35,000) annually. Canada is still seen by many North Indians as a destination for migration in the garb of education, he says.

The hike in tuition fees is another prime cause, observes Borra Nishidhar Reddy, managing director at Storm Educational consultancy. It has seen an annual rise of six per cent though the educational loan limit of Rs. 20 lakh has remained the same.

The figure was capped in 2001 when the rupee stood at 32 to a dollar. While the Indian currency depreciated to half that figure, scholarships too are being cut due, forcing students to either drop plans or restrategise.

A MNC employee Sukeshini concurs. Her daughter joined the Carnegie Mellon University last year paying a first instalment of $11,000 when rupee was at Rs. 52, second when it was at Rs. 56 and the third at Rs. 61.40. “I am planning to ask my second daughter to defer her plans to study abroad as Rs. 70 a dollar is unaffordable.”

Enhanced postgraduate seats are another cause. Andhra Pradesh alone has 50,000 M.Tech seats this year, double the 2008 figure. JNTU-Hyderabad Registrar N.V. Ramana Rao says stagnant incomes and rising costs overseas are forcing students to pursue the course here.

Students now prefer to take a shot at increasing openings in the PSUs, the banking and financial sector. Those eager to earn a foreign degree are choosing the twinning programmes route. Several universities including private and deemed, are luring students with joint programmes where the cost is much less. Students also get a chance to pursue part of the course abroad.

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