Higher education and where to pursue it, the question that has often stumped many a students who have seen their peers, their seniors and their mentors make the gigantic leap from India to abroad for their studies before settling into well-paying and satisfying careers.
In a continuously changing and evolving age, we look at whether investing tremendous amounts in a foreign education is worthwhile and feasible for students from India, especially with the visa rules undergoing many changes with the world’s socio-economic and political situation.
The first thing prospective students should consider before they take a call either way is their reason for pursuing higher education abroad instead of in India. Will it make a tangible impact on your career? Will the lack of a foreign degree make a difference to the way your career progresses? If the answers to both of these questions are yes, then you should go for it. However, in an age where top Indian B schools and their ilk are building a strong reputation all over, perhaps it would be the fiscally prudent and wiser choice for you to study hard for the entrance exams, crack them, and pursue your education in India. It would be the safer option for those coming from lower middle class and middle class families, with the promise of a high paying job in the future and good growth as well, especially if they plan to pursue a career in India.
The other side of the coin is that if you are keen on working in another country, then a foreign degree would stand you in better stead, though the going would be much tougher, what with countries like America having an H1B1 VISA Cap every year, with the United Kingdom giving students only 3-4 odd months to find a job – one which must not be below a certain amount, and the like.
At the end of the day the only thing that matters is getting apt return on investment. Getting a loan and paying 40 to 50 odd lakh rupees for an education in America which does not lead to a job there, either due to issues of visa or because that degree and those skills aren’t in demand, or anything else, would be a bad decision, putting the student in crippling debt. And as a wise banker friend of mine once said, ´Debt changes a person’s outlook on life’. Getting a job and being forced to stick with it because you have to clear the debt would only lead to unhappiness, stress, and unnecessary and undue pressure.
My intention though, is not to scare prospective students, but to instruct them of the realities of life. Many buy into the American or European dream, thinking it would be all hunky dory, when the reality at ground level is quite different – from competing with people who have the home advantage, to fighting for a work visa, to convincing prospective employers of your worth and why you stand apart from the citizens of that country, it is an uphill task.
However I’ve always been a dreamer, and so I’ll conclude on a positive note. If you think you can do it, if you have the determination and the guts to fight hard, to strive and battle with grit, then an education abroad will not only immerse you in the culture of another country and give you a complete international experience, adding sheen to your CV, but it will also help you grow as a professional and as a person, opening many avenues for you all over the world. Just take care that you do not spend more than you can afford, that your reach does not exceed your grasp, and always have a backup plan to fall back on.