A new survey by EdTech company Galvanize Test Prep polled thousands of students across the country to understand the impact of COVID-19 on their study abroad plans for graduate programs such as MS, MBA and PhD. While in March, when COVID-19 hit, students were uncertain about the study abroad future, it appears that in the longer-term, plans to study abroad are on-track.
The survey found that COVID-19 does not seem to have negatively impacted students’ longer-term study abroad plans. 89% of those surveyed still plan on pursuing their graduate studies abroad in Spring and Fall 2021 semesters. 73% stated better job opportunities driven by the strong brand value of a degree from a globally-recognized university as the main reason for continuing with their plans. The availability of more options and specializations for study in universities abroad was also an attraction with 20% stating it as a key factor. Universities abroad offer a variety of degree options and within a specific program, students can choose from a wide range of electives. This flexibility seems to be appealing to students compared to the more rigid course structures in India.
An interesting finding from the study was that, due to the current recessionary trends in the Indian and global economies on account of COVID-19, 56% of the students surveyed considered earning a graduate degree abroad as a smart way to ride out the current recession and upskill themselves for the future. This is in direct contrast to the early days of COVID-19 when many students were leaning towards staying back in India and look for jobs here after finishing their undergraduate degree.
The United States still remains the most popular destination for the majority (46%) of students surveyed. The country offers the maximum number of quality universities and degree options and is also the world’s largest economy with the greatest number of jobs. Preference for the US as the top destination is expected to rise further with the US election results announced last week. Canada is the next popular destination with 18% of respondents citing the country as their primary choice. Germany came in third with 8%. The UK, once a much-preferred destination, was the first choice for only 7% of students. Uncertainties around the UK economy post-Brexit versus the U.S., Canada, and Germany could be a reason for them being lower ranked on the survey.
Commenting on the findings and the impact of the US election results, Pavithra Srinivasan, Founder, Galvanize Test Prep, said, “In the early days of COVID-19, Galvanize was flooded with calls from students trying to figure out their uncertain study abroad future. In the longer-term, it appears that plans to study abroad are still on-track. Better job prospects, stronger brand value of global universities, and the desire to ride out recessionary trends and upskill for their future careers are the major drivers for this. The recent US elections results will provide a further boost to students’ plans to study in the US, with student visa, H1-B visa and Green Card rules expected to be favourably impacted. For example, the incoming Biden administration is expected to increase the cap on employment-based visas if needed by US companies. It also plans to exempt recent STEM PhD graduates in the US from the annual employment visa cap.”