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Why Indian students migrate?

India is the world’s second-largest student sending country after China with the number of Indian

students abroad has increased four times in the last 14 years. Students’ migration of such magnitude

has become a major source of capital and brain drain for India while hugely benefitting the

economies of the advanced countries. Ninety percent of student movement from India is

concentrated in five countries of which Canada is by far the largest recipient, receiving more than

half of the expatriate Indian students, followed by the United States, Australia, and the United


Several causes appear to be at play in the enormous influx of students outside of India. These can be

grouped into two major categories:

International developments include factors such as the technological revolution, globalization of

education, global demographic trend, and, most importantly, policy changes to aggressively recruit

foreign students who are preferred over immigration of already skilled labor.

Domestic conditions include factors such as the widening gap between demand for and supply of

higher education, the country & regulatory framework, rising income levels, education loan

availability, the desire of the Indian middle class to migrate to developed countries, and the

desperation to gain access to quality education to climb the socio-economic ladder.

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