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Over 75 percent of Indian students looking to study abroad intend to migrate: INTO survey

June 22, 2022

According to a recent survey by INTO University Partnerships, almost 8 in 10 Indian Gen Z students (76%) looking to study abroad plan to work and settle overseas after completing their international degree. 

A total of 1044 Indian students participated in the study commissioned by INTO to track the changing aspirations of Gen Z after the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the world emerges from the shadows of the pandemic, Indian students are leading a strong resurgence in demand for international education, and opportunities to live and work abroad are at the top of their minds. According to the survey, one third are choosing their study abroad destinations based on post study work opportunities and quality of education.

The survey also shows that a significant proportion of Indian students (41%) would still prefer studying overseas even if the same quality of education was offered by Indian universities. 

Experience of living in another country, higher quality education and better job prospects at home and overseas with an international degree are the top three motivations for Indian Gen Z students to study abroad. Alongside the majority, who want to live and work abroad, 11 percent of Gen Z Indian students want to gain critical skills and knowledge abroad and apply them back home in India to help the country advance and prosper.

“India is witnessing a generational change where young people are more ambitious than ever to realise their full potential. Many more want to study and live abroad, and see their place as global citizens ready to contribute and lead in diverse fields from advanced technology to research and innovation. Quality of education and opportunities to live and work abroad are defining the choices Indian students make in selecting their study abroad universities,” said Diwakar Chandiok, INTO’s recruitment director for South Asia.

“Improving affordability coupled with a highly competitive educational environment locally, especially for in-demand subjects, is also tempting Indian students to look overseas for quality education and associated benefits.”

According to UNESCO, India has seen a steady increase in the outflow of students pursuing higher education abroad — from 257,000 in 2015 rising to over 460,000 in 2019. As the borders open after the worst of the pandemic, the trend is likely to gain further momentum.

However, the pandemic has left 8 out of 10 Indian students feeling that their study abroad process has been impacted. 40 percent believe the pandemic is simply making travelling too difficult and 31 percent say that student visas to many study abroad countries have become much harder to obtain. 

“Universities and governments in destination countries must work together to ensure all qualifying international students experience a smooth transition from enrolment to relocation to their campuses. It is equally important that institutions are prepared to meet the changed expectations of international students who are looking for greater returns on their investment in the form of employability and skills to succeed, said Olivia Streatfeild, CEO of INTO.

International students globally are estimated to contribute more than US$300 billion to the world economy annually. In the US they add over US$38 billion to the national economy, whereas in the UK the figure stands at US$32 billion (or £21.6 billion).

Comments Michael Lynas, vice president of INTO CareerFirst, “Gen Z international students are ambitious go-getters who are increasingly willing to travel across the world to further their career prospects. At INTO, we are fully geared up to support students not just to achieve their academic ambitions, but also to help them go further and faster with their career goals. Our CareerFirst programmes give students access to expert support, training and work experience, so they get the head start they need in today’s competitive job market.”

The INTO survey also reveals that the US continues to be the top destination for Indian students (31%), followed by Canada (23%) and the UK (17%). A sizable proportion of students are also considering institutions in Asia (12%), looking at these countries’ proximity and economic return. Australia and New Zealand saw a reduced student interest in the last two years due to border closures and travel restrictions. However, the recent reopening of borders may soon see these numbers to rise.

Key findings of the survey:

76% of Indian students aspiring to study abroad plan on working and/or settling overseas after their international degree, and only 20% plan to return to India immediately after studying abroad.

33% of Indian students are looking to permanently settle abroad or migrate to their study abroad country.

One third of Gen Z Indian students choose their study abroad destination based on post study work opportunities and quality of education.

41% of Gen Z Indian students would still prefer to study abroad, even if the same teaching quality was offered by universities in India.

More than 8 out of 10 (84%) Gen Z Indian students believe the pandemic has changed the study abroad process for them in some way. 

40% believe the pandemic is simply making travelling too difficult, and 31% say that student visas to many study abroad countries have become much harder to obtain.

INTO is the world’s leading international education partnering organisation that empowers universities to recruit international students with unparalleled reach, control and transparency. To learn more, visit


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