Indians represent the second largest cohort of international students in OECD countries

According to an OECD report, Indians, who make up the second largest cohort of international students in some of the world’s most developed economies, are “grossly over-represented” in STEM subjects, especially engineering.

In 2017/18, almost half of international students in the US were studying STEM subjects, and this proportion was around 79% for Indian students, substantially higher than Chinese students (45%).

A similar trend can be seen in many other OECD countries, the report states. Germany reported three major groups of international students enrolled primarily in engineering fields in 2021, of which Indian students made up a total of 66 percent, surpassing Chinese students who accounted for a total of 50 percent.

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In 2016-17, more than half of Indian students in the Netherlands were admitted to engineering degree programs. Almost two out of three students (a total of 63%) in France enrolled in a science course in 2018/19, while Chinese students in France tend to be “more evenly distributed” in the field of social sciences “including economics, social and natural sciences” with only 1% enrolled in the health and medical field.

Up to 44% of students in Morocco and Algeria also showed an interest in the field of science. While non-EU students in Luxembourg make up “half of all enrolled students” in STEM disciplines, surprisingly they only represent less than a quarter of the “global enrolled student population”.

Apart from analyzing the over-representation of Indians in the STEM field, the report also highlights a variety of factors that Indian students consider before going abroad for higher studies.

Data indicates that Indian students prefer universities in places with lower fees and a potential job market. Other factors that influence their choice are geographical proximity, the language of instruction and policies for accessing the labor market even during the course of study. Therefore, countries like Australia, Norway, Germany and Switzerland see an influx of Indian students.

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