Coronavirus has forced 51% non-STEM Indian students to drop plan to study abroad: QS report

Coronavirus has forced 51% non-STEM Indian students to drop plan to study abroad: QS report

New Delhi: Over 50 per cent non-STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) students in India who planned to study abroad have dropped their plans due to the restrictions in various countries in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, a Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) report has said.

Titled Indian Students Mobility Report 2020, the report released this week said 47.38 per cent of students in STEM fields changed their higher studies plans abroad. The figure for non-STEM students is at 51.59 per cent.

Overall, the pandemic has affected the decision of 48.46 per cent students who aspired to study abroad, added the report. ThePrint has accessed a copy of it.

QS is an education agency that releases global university rankings annually.

Why non-STEM students are opting out

According to the report, non-STEM students have changed their plans after considering the lower return of investment and less chances of employability.

“The significantly lower return of investment in an already expensive international higher education domain coupled with further reduced chances of employability in the post Covid-19 world have a key role to play in this shift,” said the report.

“While there is likely to be a demand for STEM based professionals, it might not be the same for non-STEM courses which resonates with the higher percentage of students in the latter category to reconsider their higher education plans,” it added.

The QS report findings in the context of the assumptions that in a post-Covid world, there will be greater demand for science, engineering and technology graduates, who could preferably work for pharmaceutical companies, and in the field of innovation and technology.

According to the report, after ‘safety’, the top reason for students to choose the option to study abroad is ‘employment’.

“Last few years were reportedly witnessing a dip in the numbers which was supposedly related to the factors like changes in political order, anti-immigration policies, threats of terrorism and changing world economic landscape. The sudden upheaval in the student mobility due to COVID-19 pandemic has been far more impactful than any of these factors that influenced students’ aspirations to migrate,” it said.

It added that apart from an exponential change in the international student mobility, there is likely to be some impact on inter-state mobility as well.

US issues

The QS report also highlighted the destination preferences of students to study abroad. The US continued to be the top choice.

However, the report pointed out that with the “recent proclamation by USA President to suspend entry of immigrants who present risk to the US labour market during the economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, students aspiring for higher education in USA might have to re-consider their options”.


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