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Choosing in herds.
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Indian students can’t let go of business and engineering even in the UK

By Ananya Bhattacharya

Business courses are the favourite by a long shot among Indians studying in the UK.

Of the over 17,000 Indian students who enrolled in British universities in 2017-18, up to 7,625 signed up for degrees in business and administrative studies, according to data provided by information portal Studying-in-UK.org.

This isn’t surprising, though, since an overwhelming majority of Indian students looking to study these subjects prefer business schools abroad, according to a 2016 Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) survey.

Technology fields such as engineering and computer science also ranked among the most popular ones, according to Studying-in-UK.org. This is expected, too, considering how obsessed Indians are with engineering.

For many, going abroad may be the more accessible option. Getting into the elite Indian Institutes of Technology can be a daunting task given the acceptance rate of around 2% there, compared to Harvard’s 5%, Yale’s 6.31%, and a little under 7% at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Why Indians go to the UK

After the US and Australia, UK is the most favoured international destinations for Indian students.

The quality of education, employment prospects, connections worldwide, student experience, and opportunities to travel are the big lures outside India, according to a QS rankings agency survey.

The Indian education system is anyway plagued by subpar funding and infrastructure, rampant absenteeism among underpaid and under-qualified teachers, and high student-teacher ratios, among other things. Often, universities here also lack good research capabilities. For instance, the combined research output of 39 federally-funded universities in the country, as measured in journal publications between 1990 and 2014, was less than that of either Cambridge or Stanford University alone.

Consequently, employability suffers. A 2013 study of 60,000 university graduates in various disciplines revealed that nearly half of them were unemployable. Four years later, data showed that six in 10 Indian engineering graduates remain unemployed.

There are no Indian universities in the top 200 of the Times Higher Education World University ranking for 2019. There are 29 British universities on the list.