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Over 30% hike among Indians opting to study in Spain

Arnab Mitra
In 2019, around 1.2 lakh international students moved to Spain for education, out of which an estimated 4,500 are from India. ( Image source: gettyimages.in)

For Indian students aspiring to study abroad, countries like United States, United Kingdom (UK), Australia and Canada remain traditional favourites, while Spain is also emerging as a destination, thanks to its interdisciplinary courses.

In 2019, around 1.2 lakh international students opted for Spain as their education destination, of which an estimated 4,500 were from India, as per the data shared by an Embassy of Spain official.

The number of Indian students opting to study in Spain-based varsities has gone up by over 30 per cent. According to the data provided by the Spain Embassy, while only 302 students from New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and other northern parts of India took admission in Spain in 2015, the number has now increased to 531.

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The second highest rise has been observed from the southern region including Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh which saw a 29 per cent rise followed by the eastern region including West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha. From the region, the number has gone up from 206 in 2015 to 391 in 2018, a rise of 23.5 per cent.

The hike in Indian students applying for admission in Spain is much larger than that of the hike in popular destinations, including the UK and USA. As per the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) record, the number of Indian applicants for British Universities has gone up by 5 per cent from over 2000 in 2016 to 6,210 students in 2019.

While in the US, a whopping 2,11,703 lakh Indian students are studying in various varsities, China tops the list with 3.7 lakh (3,77,070) students, as per the country’s biannual report on international student trends in 2018.

According to career counselor Santha Chowdhury, United Kingdom’s withdrawal of post-study work visa and US’ steps for restricting the procurement of H-1B visas has seen a huge shift among the number of Asians to Latin American and other countries. "The United Kingdom and the United States are the most desired destinations for Indian students to study and work, but certain steps taken by these countries has moved Indians to choose other desired destinations like Canada, Spain, Germany, Japan," the career counselor said.

However, the counsellor mentioned the scenario could change as UK has re-introduced the two-year post-study work visa. "Though the United States is still a hurdle for many Indians studying there because of the strict rules to procure a non-immigrant working visa or H-1B visa, the United Kingdom’s move will definitely attract Indians," remarked Chowdhury.

Regarding the recent rise of foreign students in Spain, the counsellor said, "The universities in Spain are now offering courses in both English and Spanish, so language is not a barrier. The students after completing graduation and post-graduation are procuring well-packaged jobs in the Latin American and other nations since in the course of their study, they have learnt the Spanish language as well." Spanish is the official language of 20 countries.

This year, a total of 89 Indian students, 48 females and 41 males have been awarded a fully-funded scholarship for Europe’s Erasmus Mundus Joint Master’s Degree programs (EMJMD). Around 350 students and staff from Indian higher education institutions were selected for scholarships under Prof Hitesh Bhatt, Director, Institute of Rural Management Anand Erasmus’ International Credit Mobility (ICM) program.

Though there is no current data available with the European Union, however, according to the last data, over 8,000 students pursue higher education in various French institutes in 2018, a 54 per cent hike in numbers from 2017.

Indian students studying in European countries: List

Belgium: 1,000

Germany: 2,000

UK: 6,000

France: 4,000

Italy: 3,000

Ukraine: 5,000

Netherland: 1,500

Switzerland: 1,200

Sweden: 1,120

Ireland: 1,100

Portugal: 1,300

(This is an approximate figure shared by the embassies.)

According to the official, the reason behind the rise in the number of students is varsities facilitating students in landing jobs and the extension of student visas up to three years.

The candidates can also apply for a permanent residency after staying in the country for three years and for Spanish nationality after 10 years of residency in Spain.

In 2019, around 18,000 students took admission in the various international management programmes offered by the institutes in the country, with Universidad de Navarra’s IESE Business School attracting the majority of students this year. Around 250 students took admission in various programmes, followed by ESADE Business School, Barcelona, IE Business School, Madrid, and EADA Business School Barcelona. With above 50 per cent placed during campus placement last year, it has also started attracting students from the US and other countries. In the MBA courses, 80 per cent students were placed. The average salary of graduates was recorded at Rs 1 to 1.2 crore per annum.

Apart from business programmes, Spain is the new hub of tech startups and ambitious entrepreneurs, also credited as being among EU’s fastest-growing economies. Madrid has over 1,200 tech startups and is viable for small growing industries due to its policies.