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Preferred Countries for Higher Education of Indian Students: A Statistical Overview

According to the Ministry of External Affairs, Indians are pursuing education in as many as 240 countries worldwide. While popular destinations such as Canada, Australia, Ireland, the UK, and the US continue to attract a significant number of students, an increasing number are also choosing to study in lesser-known countries such as Uzbekistan, the Philippines, Russia, Ireland, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan.

The latest data indicates a surge in the number of Indians heading overseas for higher education, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. According to the Education Ministry’s report to Parliament last month, the figures reached a six-year peak in 2022 with over 750,000 students seeking higher education abroad. Furthermore, India overtook China to become the leading country with the highest number of international students studying in the US in 2022.

The trend of Indian students opting for overseas education has been steadily increasing. According to government data, the number of Indian students studying abroad rose from 450,000 in 2017 to 520,000 in 2018, and further to approximately 586,000 in 2019. However, the pandemic caused a significant drop in these numbers, with only 260,000 students opting for overseas education in 2020.

Preferred Countries

Let’s find out all the countries that were applied by the Indian students for study abroad.

The UK

In 2022, the UK witnessed a significant increase in the number of sponsored study visas granted to Indian students, as per data available on the UK government website. The figures rose remarkably from 34,261 in 2019 to 140,000 visas. Chinese students constituted the second-largest group to be granted sponsored study visas by the UK in 2022. Notably, in September 2019, the UK introduced the “graduate route” post-study work visa, which permitted international students, including those from India, to work or search for employment in any field or position for two years after completing their studies.

The UK requires only one admission Statement of Purpose or admission essay to get an approval from the college.


Canada has emerged as a popular destination for Indian students seeking overseas education, with over 220,000 Indian study permit holders in the country as of 2019, making up 34% of Canada’s foreign student population. However, with the pandemic-induced travel restrictions imposed by Canada in 2021, many Indian students, particularly from Punjab, looked for alternative routes to reach the country via Russia, Serbia, Qatar, and Dubai. Canada requires you to share an SOP for college and then a dedicated SOP for student permit VISA to finally be allowed to visit Canada. It has become a little difficult to get an approval for Canadian student visa these days.

According to immigration experts, the closure of borders to international students by Australia and New Zealand in 2021 played a significant role in the increase in the number of Indian students opting to study in Canada.

Ukraine, China

The Russian invasion created a state of uncertainty for approximately 18,000 Indian medical students in Ukraine. Similarly, when the pandemic broke out, around 23,000 Indian medical students studying in China were unable to return to the country. Nevertheless, with China resuming student visa applications in August 2022, roughly 6,200 Indian medical students were able to obtain visas.

France had around 10,000 Indian students in 2019, and it has set a target to attract 20,000 Indian students by 2025. In July 2021, France announced that fully vaccinated Indian students would be allowed to travel to the country without any restrictions.

Greece is aiming to expand its engagement with Indian academic institutions via the “Study in Greece” platform. In pursuit of this goal, the two countries have signed a Cultural and Educational Exchange Programme for 2022-2026.


Every year, more and more Indian students are turning up in large numbers where they are now taking decisions of studying abroad. With a more liberalised approach towards their career, students find it worthy of their time and investment as it yields higher ROI. The entire cost of studying abroad may range from INR 25,00,000 and above, the annual income that you may generate from this is more than 30% in most of the cases, right after your graduation.

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