When countries talk about higher education at the FPJ-NMIMS education conference


Mumbai: India is the second largest source of students traveling overseas for education. As per the UNESCO Institute of Statistics data, the flow of Indian students to other countries touched the 3 lakh mark in 2016. This figure will continue to increase with more and more students looking to go abroad for higher education. Keeping in mind this demand, The Free Press Journal and SVKM’s NMIMS Deemed to be University organised an education conference titled  ‘Where do I study overseas?’ at Mukesh Patel auditorium, Vile Parle on November 7, 2019.

Commenting on the conference, NMIMS, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Dr. Sharad Mhaiskar, said, “This is a unique conference organised by International Linkages department, NMIMS and The Free Press Journal for students of all colleges in and around Mumbai, to apprise them of the status of higher education in different countries which are high on the student’s minds.”

The keynote address at the event was delivered by David J Ranz, the US Consul General (CG) in Mumbai. Speaking at the event, Ranz said, “Let me start by saying that I feel the pain whether you are a parent or student.” He went on to add that it is not very easy to decide one’s career choices but researching before picking a course or country is the key. Commenting about India and the United States relationship, the US diplomat said, “Nearly two lakh Indian students are studying in the US universities. It is almost double of what it was five years ago.” He attributed this growing numbers to the quality education the country offers.

After the address, there was a panel discussion titled ‘Countries Talk’ which was moderated by RN Bhaskar, Consulting Editor of Free Press Journal. The panellists (in alphabetical order) for this session were Bharati Bacha, education advisor on UK education; Shubhada Choudhury, Head, Information Center Mumbai, DAAD India on higher education in Germany; Stefania Costanza, Consul General from Italy on educational opportunities in that country; David Flood, Director – India & South Asia for Enterprise Ireland (higher education in Ireland); Vikash Golla, Manager, Campus France, Mumbai (educational opportunities in France); Ryan Pereira, Regional Officer, United States-India Educational Foundation (education in the US); Carlos Rojas-Arbulú, Consul and Head of Trade & Investment, Consulate General of Canada in Mumbai (on opportunities in Canada); and Jugnu Roy, Country Manager India, Education New Zealand (on educational opportunities there).

Shubhada Choudhury stated, “Last year 2018-figures suggest that there has been an increase of 18.4 per cent compared to the previous year, taking the student count to 20,810 which is huge.” She added that over the last five years, the figure has doubled. “Indian students form the second largest contingent of international students in Germany. The total number foreign students in Germany has grown by 5.3 per cent which is four times the global average,” Choudhury added.

David Flood said, “There are large numbers of Indian students in Ireland. Over the years, we have seen doubling of students coming from India to Ireland.”  Most students come to Ireland for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), which is the case with most of the other countries as well. Flood added that Ireland is a welcoming country and Indians and Irish get along quite well.

Talking about France, Vikash Golla said that France is focusing on increasing the influx of Indian students to its territory. “Our personal target was to send 10,000 students to France by 2020 but we have already achieved that this year itself. Now target is to send 20,000 students by 2025 and we believe that we are on the right track.”

Ryan Pereira spoke about the quality and flexibility that US education offers. He added, “US universities have flexibilities in not just the courses that they offer, but also allows you to change your field.”

Bharati Bacha , an education advisor, who is extremely familiar with the do’s and don’t’s of British education, said, “United Kingdom has had a reputation of offering quality courses for ages now. Many renowned names and leaders from India have graduated from the UK.” She added that UK continues to entice students to the country and now with a change in visa policy, the UK will become attractive once again.

Stefania Costanza stated that unlike other countries, Italy treats Italian and non-Italian students alike. She added, “We have 5,000 Indian students studying in Italy in private and public universities.” She revealed  that this year alone saw the Italian consulate issuing as many as 5,500 students visas and that 75 per cent of this number were issued from the Mumbai office. “We reject one third of applications as Italy picks up the best students.”

Jugnu Roy stated that they do not like talking numbers. “For us, offering courses in New Zealand is about providing an international experience to students.” She pointed out that New Zealand universities and their campuses have the best infrastructure in the world.

After the US, Canada is the preferred destination for most Indian students, said Carlos Rojas-Arbulú, “We have around 1,70,000 students studying in Canada. This figure talks a lot about the people to people relationships between both countries.”