The number of Indian students enrolled for higher education in the US has surged by 71% in just two years.
In January 2014, there were 105,426 Indians studying in that country, according to data released by the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) established under the US department of homeland security. This figure rose to 181,051 by November 2015.
Indian students in the US are value-seekers who try to minimize their cost of education, and maximize the potential for job and career advancement opportunities. Here are three broad factors that influence their decision-making processes and priorities:
1. Lower cost of education with master’s programs
In 2015, 77% or nearly three out of four Indian students in the US were enrolled for master’s programs, according to SEVIS. Compare that to the 30% figure for Chinese students. Indians are also less likely (only 10%) to enroll in the more expensive four-year bachelor’s degrees, compared to the Chinese (36%).
2. Longer work opportunity through OPT
Most Indian students are interested in engineering, computer science, and related “STEM”—science-technology-engineering—fields that provide an extended opportunity to work in the US through OPT (Optional Practical Training). In fact, 82% of Indians were enrolled in STEM programs, while the figure was only 38% for the Chinese, according to SEVIS.
3. Key destinations with more technology sector jobs
Indian students’ top destinations in the US are IT hubs. Nearly 40% of them are enrolled in just three states—California (30,823), Texas (21,590), and New York (17,711)—according to SEVIS. The number in California doubled from 15,327 in April 2014 to 30,823 in December 2015. The growth rates in Texas and New York are slower at 54% and 39%, respectively, compared to 59% nationwide.