Those admitted to universities abroad are facing a tough time trying to raise additional funds to deal with the depreciation of Indian currency

A week before her visa interview, Nrithya Chandresekar, who recently graduated from SRM university, was highly tense. “All my financial documents were prepared keeping in mind the value of the rupee in June. I fear the authorities will demand more details or cancel the visa,” said the electronics engineer, who has got through a state university in California to study her masters.

 “I considered deferring my travel plans but the university does not have the same specialisation in the spring. Also, they will deduct a considerable sum from my deposit,” she said.

The decline of the value of the Indian rupee has been a blow to students such as Nrithya who are planning to leave in the coming months. While many of them have written to universities asking them to defer their admissions, others are making last-ditch attempts to manage the additional expense.

Never in the past has any economic crisis affected students so much, said Paul Chellakumar, an overseas education consultant.

“The situation is really alarming for students – both those planning to go there, and the ones who are struggling to cut costs there. Students who paid off the fees earlier are lucky because now, even the advance seems like a big sum,” he said.

 Even those who planned ahead said their calculations have gone for a toss. K. Manjari, who starts her masters in Development Economics at the London School of Economics this month, thought she had made a conservative calculation on the exchange rate at 95 per pound.

“The pound now trades at 102. Even the living costs have increased by 20 per cent,” she said. She is now on the lookout for cheaper living places, and part-time work on campus.

According to experts, Chennai sends over 15,000 students abroad every year. The top three destinations are the United States, U.K. and Australia.

Many students, who went abroad last year, are now searching for additional funds. Ramkumar Balasubramanian, a computer engineering student at Arizona State University, said he has begun cutting his daily expenses. Ramkumar estimates that his expenditure has risen by at least 15 per cent.

 “Holiday plans have been cancelled and most of us Indian students are working as much as labour permit hours allow us to.  Even going home during the Christmas break seems unlikely. I am very worried about paying next year’s fees,” he said. 

It may not even be the right time to look for alternative locations, said experts. “The tuition fee might be very less in Germany, France and Sweden but the living expenses there are up by 30 per cent. So, students need to be careful while shifting choices,” Mr. Chellakumar said. 

Mr. Chellakumar however said the situation is likely to improve by December. “It is advisable that students, at least those who have opted for courses offered in all semesters, request for deferring their courses to January.”

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