WES report onHow Master's Students Choose Institutions

WES report onHow Master's Students Choose Institutions

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Srishti Chatterjee
Study Abroad Expert
Updated on Jun 29, 2021 18:12 IST

According to a new report called How Master’s Students Choose Institutions: Research on International Student Segmentation by World Education Services (WES), Indian students usually have low financial resources and this affects their values, needs and motivations when shortlisting or choosing colleges and universities.

Also, the report has found that even though nearly 70% of Indian students having a budget of less than $30,000 per year, they expect a good return on investment from their education in US.

Rahul Choudaha, Chief Knowledge Officer at WES says: "While it is well-established that Indian students are value-seekers, less is known about how they try to minimize their investment and maximize returns. In this research, we found Indian students are more likely to apply for engineering-related courses in public institutions and are less constrained by institutional reputation".

There is a comparison drawn by WES in the report between Indian and Chinese students. There is a stark contrast to Chinese students who are more likely to enroll in private institutions as they are influenced by institutional reputation. To make things clear, reputation was identified by only 24% of Indian applicants as the most important criteria as compared to 47% of their Chinese peers in the report.

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Since many years, India has been the second-largest source of international students in US higher education institutions. From 2012-13 to 2013-14, graduate enrollment from India in the US grew by 12%, while the previous year there was a downward trend which saw Indian graduate enrollment decline by 7%, according to Institute of International Education (IIE). Consistent with the current trends in India, the top two study fields for Indian aspirants in the US are Engineering (42%) and Math and Computer Science (32%).

"Indian students are more likely to be concentrated in master’s level programmes. To maximize the return on their investment, Indian students seek shorter duration programs with high employment prospects. That is why around 2 out of 3 Indian students in the US are enrolled in master’s level programmes in engineering-related fields, which provide the potential for 29-month optional practical training that allows them to gain work experience and recover their investment", Choudaha said. He also mentioned, "First, public institutions, which form majority of American higher education, continue to face financial challenges and are looking for international students to meet their enrolment goals. Second, after the currency devaluation shocks, most Indians have now got adjusted to the new normal of the rupee in the 60s and have started factoring it in their cost of education".

According to the WES report, US institutions that are affordable, offer scholarships and have shorter degree programs, are most likely to attract Indian students. "Indian students are prepared academically and are often qualified to receive merit-based scholarships or funding opportunities. Higher education institutions with high-quality programs, particularly in STEM fields that are looking to increase their enrolment of academically prepared students should consider India as a target market", the report claims.

Like the US, Indian students who go to Canada for a master’s degree, consider the availability of financial support in the form of research assistantships, teacher assistantships or scholarships as well. Earlier, Canada was a destination of choice for Indian students mainly because of low fees and future prospects for immigration.

Findings of the report

Consistent with previous findings, the research found that Chinese students have stronger financial resources compared to their Indian peers. Notable findings include:

Budget for higher education

The survey revealed that nearly 70% of Indian students have a budget of less than $30,000 per year.

What do Indian master’s students value in a university?

Indian students expect a good return on investment on their U.S. education. Career prospects are the most important (58%) characteristic of a school for Indian students, more than the sum of school reputation (24%), cost (14%), and location (5%). Approximately 60% of Strivers rated the three sub-criteria of career prospects (reputation with prospective employers, earning potential and career services) as very important. In addition to career prospects, shorter programs seem to offer a good value for Indian students. Twenty-seven percent of Indian students rated program duration as very important.

Where do Indian master’s students study?

  • Indian students prefer public universities.
  • Approximately 70% of Indian students' school preferences (Reach Schools, Match Schools, and Safety Schools) are public. India is the only country or region examined with more students choosing public institutions as Reach Schools.
  • Indian students are more likely to apply to Master’s Colleges and Universities than their Chinese counterpart.
  • Twenty-eight percent of Indian students applying to Reach Schools and 42% applying to Match Schools choose Master’s Colleges and Universities, which is more than any other country or region.
  • Chinese students are more likely to choose institutions in major cities than Indian students.
  • Indian students, 17% of whom have applied to Match Schools and Safety Schools, are located in a town or a rural setting indicating that Indian students are willing to compromise on location.

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