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In Charts: Why Varying Types Of Indian Students Move To US & How To Get Talent Among Them To Return

It is the unfortunate season of massive layoffs in the US, especially in the technology sector.

Over 60,000 Indian IT professionals in the US have reportedly lost their jobs.

Given that most of them are likely to be on work-related H-1B and L1 visas, they may have to find another job within 60 days or pack up.

The impact of tech layoff on the Indian workforce in the US has once again stirred a debate on the reasons driving the migration of Indian students to the West, especially to the US, and why a significant number among them choose to stay put there and pursue professional opportunities.

The migration from India, often described as a brain-drain problem by several policymakers, is two-fold.

One, that of the students, and two, that of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs).

Data from the AfrAsia bank, focussed on HNWIs with a net worth between $1 million and $9.9 million, reveals that in 2019, roughly 2 per cent of India’s HNWIs, roughly 7,000, emigrated from India.

This was second to China, where 16,000 HNWIs chose to leave the country, approximately 2 per cent. India found itself in the top spots with Russia and Hong Kong.

However, what explains the migration of students from India, especially to the US?

The numbers explain the urgency.

Now, to the reasoning behind these numbers.

One, at the risk of stating the obvious, it is the formidable educational ecosystem, including Ivy League universities attracting the best and brightest.

Leading institutes for international students include New York University, Boston University, Purdue University, John Hopkins University, University of Michigan, Cornell University, and many more.

For many graduates in India, from IITs and NITs or specialised management institutes, the next obvious stop is the Ivy League universities for the courses they offer and for the professional prospects.

It is both a matter of personal preference and academic excellence that propels this movement.

However, the ones unable to move to the best universities are also content with second-tier and lesser-known institutes.

While scholarships are hard to attain, the objective is to secure a loan, hustle with a side job to manage the expenses, and land a job with any big multinationals to pay off the loan and pursue the 'American dream'.

For most, this entire EMI circle goes up to a few years.

Two, the population.

This explains the high number of students migrating to the US from India and China. That students from China (more than 4x the size of India's current GDP) constitute the largest overseas student group in US universities is a valuable reminder that migration is not a function of a country's economic prowess.


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