Once a rare dream, going abroad to study masters has become commonplace today, for Indian students. India is the second largest sender of students to campuses all over the world. However, a master’s degree is a specialized one, and whether one chooses to pursue one in India or abroad should be a well thought decision, based on numerous balancing factors.
Studying masters abroad / Studying Masters in India
Did you know that approximately over 7.5 lakh students from India study in foreign colleges? Amongst these, many are studying their masters’, either after attaining a basic undergrad degree from home or after gaining work experience for a while. A master’s course is pursued for a specific reason: for adding more specialised academic qualification with the aim of better employability, hence is an important investment.
Institutes in India do offer various programs at the post-graduate level, but these are not available in every field, as in technology and social sciences for instance, and the quality is limited in some courses, if not all.
Firstly, there is a lopsided demand supply ratio, additionally fed by unreasonable reservation policies. This has left a lot of well deserving students in the lurch due to lack of seats, despite good scores. They either don’t secure admission in their college of choice or in their desired field of study.
Secondly, in some streams, like engineering for example, students often face a bias that they are studying masters because they couldn’t procure good jobs. Somehow, the same perception doesn’t apply if they get master’s degrees from foreign universities.
Furthermore, internship opportunities are not consistently available for all master’s programs in India, especially for students from second grade colleges. All these reasons create unrealistic pressure on students and limit their chances of acquiring quality post graduate education in India.
Alongside this, a lot of middle class Indians are now able to afford higher studies abroad. The lure of overseas exposure is huge, as it inculcates confidence, wider perspective, and offers a pathway to live materialistic dreams. Notably, a master’s program from a reputed foreign university does give you a headstart in the job market.
Moreover, studying masters abroad adds to personality development and makes you more independent via challenging situations which you handle alone mostly. New people and diverse cultures, different weathers, varied educational systems, new interests and languages give you a well rounded grooming. An international degree ups your chance to be considered for a foreign project if you are working in India. Such an opportunity lets you earn decent income in a foreign currency for some years before returning home.
Additionally, better infrastructure and research quality are two significant reasons that attract students to study masters abroad.However, if pursuing higher studies in India is what you prefer, choose the best course available. The advantages of being on home ground are several. For one, you are nearer home, feel less homesick, even if you are in another city, inasmuch if you have parents who need support, you are easily accessible. Expenses are way lower than those incurred in foreign education, mostly because living costs are within control.
A top ranking institute in India will be more expensive than the rest, in our own currency, but compared to a medium ranked master’s program abroad, that would still be lesser.
Whatever the reasons, the decision to pursue a masters’ program abroad or in India should be an informed one rather than random, as it affects your career path immensely. Let’s have a quick look at what factors should mould your decision.
This becomes a huge benefit factor when you think of your career in a long term perspective.
All said and done, what matters is what you get once you complete the program.
There are better job opportunity for master programs abroad. In India, you might notice a lot of students who have master degrees but literally, doing the same work which is being done by regular graduates.
The job market is quite evolved in US and Europe and people often get jobs that they wish for rather than settling for something purely because of lack of better options.
If you consider a pure engineering perspective,
India is not the high-tech economy that can support masters program.
And the next reason is something which not many people would accept but it is true.
I want to live & work abroad
Emigration is also a big reason why Indians want to study abroad. Typically, a student who studies in a foreign university gets plenty of opportunities to work and settle abroad.
1. The reason for wanting to do a masters abroad
You need to be absolutely clear as to why you want to pursue a masters on an international campus. Doing so just due to peer pressure or some travelling fads is not advisable. The core focus should be on the quality of the course, the faculty and the professional boost your career will get by completing it.
Similarly, don’t study masters in India only because you want to be in your comfort zone, closer to home and family. If you have a better option abroad which will enhance your career and you can afford it, go for it.
2. The chosen field of study and the value of the program
A lot depends on what your subject is. Some streams of study definitely have better specialization programs in foreign universities, in comparison to India. Science and technology, engineering, fashion and design, western music and even humanities are a few. Studying masters abroad in these fields will give you an edge, but a subject like law is best studied in India, especially if you plan to practice here only.
Different countries have different education systems and the value of one program may not be the same everywhere. To assess the acceptability of that course across countries and industries, finding out its accreditation and recognition status is a must.
3. Settlement goals and your adjustment ability
Some students are crystal clear from the start that they eventually want to settle on foreign shores. In such a case studying masters abroad makes more sense, especially if you are sure where you want to settle. However, if you plan to return home later, then consider other factors too before deciding. In such a case, assess sharply, the benefits that a particular master’s course will provide to your career back home.
Additionally, while exposure to a new environment and new teaching methods will enrich your personality, they might strain you too. Keeping this in mind, you need to be highly aware of your adaptability quotient, since you cannot afford to lose concentration in your studies due to any adverse adjustment issues.
4. Expenses vs. return on investment
Studying abroad is generally expensive, exceptions apart. For example, the cost of living in a particular country, tuition fees and other miscellaneous expenses, all add up to a considerable amount and should be pre-researched well. You may also wish to explore the rules about part time working alongside studying. Also, do consider the return on investment you will garner in terms of enhanced career opportunities, after completing your masters. A cheaper (or expensive) program with low ROI is of no use.
5. Availability of scholarships
How you will finance your master’s program is a very important factor in deciding whether to study in India or abroad. Scholarships are offered by governments, organisations, colleges and universities, but you need to enquire extensively how they can be procured. They may be based on your merit, the type of course opted for, or your economic background. In some cases, partial financial aid might also be available.
These days, banks also offer student loans, which are a boon for those who cannot get scholarships. However, be prepared to repay the loan later. Notably, check your financial status before applying for loans.
6. Political and social situation in the country of study
The political climate of the country you wish to study in is a crucial point to consider. By the same token, the social health, crime rates and any existent racism against Indians should be known. Absolute security is not available anywhere, but on home ground, one has the instant support of family and friends. You might have extended family at your desired destination of study, which may mitigate some concerns with respect to the abovementioned factors.
Alternatively, you might want to choose inclusive places which are more cosmopolitan. It definitely helps to interact with Indians already studying in that country to acquaint oneself with the potential drills of getting acclimatised.
Studying masters abroad or in India is one of the major decisions of your life and needs research and right guidance and counselling. Factor in advice of family, friends, and mentors. What is most important is to keep the long term in mind, as well as, the employability factor, which should always be priority.
As a matter of fact, the trend of studying masters abroad and then returning to India to apply the knowledge here, might gradually bring about a cultural shift here too. Since better employment is offered to people with master’s degrees from abroad, this might eventually push home grown institutes to offer more variety and quality in master’s programs across numerous subjects. Thus, we can improve our own levels of higher education and provide greater value to students right here in our own country.