Indian Ministry of External Affairs stats show that 753,000 Indian students were studying abroad, as of July 2018. This makes India the world’s second-highest exporters of international students after China.

As with overall demographic trends, we can expect that India will soon overtake its Northeast Asian neighbour. This is partially a consequence of said demographic trends, and partially due to an oversubscribed HE sector. While China has run a concerted campaign to expand domestic HE provision, top Indian universities remain among the world’s most competitive in admissions-terms.

This means that there will be a surplus of talented students for which internationally-minded universities will be competing. As it stands, 75% of Indian international students study in five countries. These are the US, Canada, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. A mix, then, of top Anglophone HE exporters, and Gulf states looking to shift to knowledge economies.

The latter have invested heavily in universities, which seemingly – like their labour markets – rely on South Asian human capital. This adds a new level of competition for traditional study abroad markets like the UK.

The UK saw peak new enrolments in Indian students 2010/11, with just shy of 24,000 first-year students (HESA data). This figure took a plunge in the years following, falling as low as 9,090 in 2015/16. We are seeing what looks like a recovery, however, with 2018/19’s 17,760 new Indian students well up on 2017/18’s 12,465.

So, how can you compete for your share of these Indian students? Here are three tips to help you gain an edge on domestic and international rivals…

Target mum and dad

To attract students from some markets you should appeal to their sense of independence. Not so in India, where parents are hugely influential over study abroad decisions. A 2018 survey found that only 26% of Indian students studying abroad decided to do so themselves. 24% credited their fathers, and 15% their mothers for the decision.

Promotional efforts targeting Indian students, then, should take parents into account as much as the students themselves. So, think about the things that a parent would care about, and how you might best reach them.

This includes making sure support is available, alongside the putting of their offspring on a path to a respectable future. Certainly, well-turned out Indian-origin alumni could be a useful tool here…

Highlight career opportunities

On which note, career opportunities are key. A survey conducted by Cturtle found that career opportunities are the most important factor in student satisfaction for Indian students. Overall satisfaction with working, subject-relevant employment opportunities, and equality of employment opportunities were of equal importance.

The extension of PSW visas to 24 months certainly give UK universities a fighting chance in this regard. This has already been well received in the Indian media. The removal of PhD-level jobs from the Tier 2 visa cap will also be advantageous – particularly in STEM disciplines. With anti-immigration governments in Australia and the US, this is an opportunity to undo the damage done by David Cameron’s government.

It’s not just about visas, however. A QS survey found that careers services were the second-most important factor in university choice for Indian students (after tuition fees). Show you can support Indian students into making the most of the improved visa situation, and you may be on to a winner.

Emphasise STEM and business/management strength

Related to the above, there is a heavy tilt towards business & management and engineering. More QS datashows nearly three quarters of Indian study abroad prospects want to study in these two areas. A further 9% want to study maths, physics or chemistry. Other statistics show similar results.

You would do well then to emphasise your strengths in these research areas. Call upon strategic data in order to highlight a strong academic reputation. Show how cutting-edge and well-supplied your labs are. Emphasis the quality of teaching and research faculty. If you are not able to show these things, then you may have to address these issues, first and foremost.

For business & management students, employment outcomes and career services will be especially key, given their vocational bent.

We can help you use data to target student demographics: get in touch today for a free consultation