8 Things You Should Know About Recruiting Indian Students

Indian student recruitment

After China, India is the biggest sending market of international students in the world. If you want a slice of this action, here are some things you should know, from two global mobility experts: Dr Rahul Choudaha, principal researcher and CEO of DrEducation and Dr Kathryn Lum, professor of global studies at Nottingham Trent University in the UK.

1. Tight domestic competition makes international study attractive

Studying abroad equals sociocultural capital. Also, it is very difficult to get into the leading IIT’s (Indian Institutes of Technology) and IIM’s (Indian Institutes of Management) in India. Many DU (Delhi University) colleges also have very high cut-offs, making studying abroad an attractive option for those who have money and other forms of capital, such as mastery of the English language.  Dr Kathryn Lum (KL)

2. Indian students have traditionally placed a high value on return on investment

The traditional segment of Indian students are ‘value-maximisers’. They are less concerned about the rankings and location of an institution as compared to how quickly they can recover the investment of their education abroad experience. The majority of these students are enrolled in masters-level programs in engineering and computer science which provide better prospects of finding internship and job opportunities. The decision-making process of these students is highly influenced by word-of-mouth and via social media.  Dr Rahul Choudaha (RC)

3. ‘Highfliers’ account for an increasing proportion of Indian student base

The emerging segment of students are highfliers (academically successful students with access to financial resources, according to Choudaha’s framework), who are driven by rankings and career advancement. These students are the children of the professional class which expanded after the liberalization and privatization of the Indian economy in the early 1990s.This professional class not only valued saving, but also had the chance to become part of the real estate boom in India. The combination of these economic changes and opportunities enabled many professionals to amass substantial financial resources over time. These professionals strongly believe in the value of education and hence are ready to spend on the best education for their children. The decision-making process of these students is influenced by parents and extended families that may already be abroad. They are also likely to visit campuses before making their application and enrolment decision. (RC)

4. Word-of-mouth is still important

From what I have seen, the opinions of other family members are important (after all, they are usually funding the overseas study of their daughter or son). Word-of-mouth is also important – Indian students come back and speak about their experiences. (KL)

5. Post-study work is an attractive factor

Apart from name recognition and prestige, there is the ability to be able to work in the country afterwards to gain practical overseas experience, as well as the ability to apply for long-term residence in the country of study. The potential for long-term settlement is strong among certain regional groups, such as the Punjabis. (KL)

6. Recruitment strategies must account for changing demographics

While the demand for education abroad among Indian students remains strong, the profile of students who will have both the willingness and ability to go abroad is shifting. The emerging opportunities of engaging and attracting the new segment of highflier Indian students will require a proactive recruitment strategy which adapts to the needs and behaviours of the students. (RC)

7. Universities can add value through improving employment prospects

Placements and internships for students’ CVs add value. These placements are important for those Indians who want to stay on a few more years to acquire international work experience as well as those who return. Also, for universities in non-English speaking countries, offering courses in English can add appeal. (KL)

8. A welcoming environment is important!

In general, a welcoming environment for international students goes a long way and has a strong international student community already is an asset. The national policy framework is also important here. There was a drop in Indian student numbers after the UK abolished the post-study work visa. (KL)

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