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Year Ender 2016: Greener Pastures

  • Flying abroad for international degrees continues to soar
- Binod Ghimire
Around 33,000 students obtained the No Objection certification in the fiscal year 2015/16. The number was just 11,912 three years ago

Dec 29, 2016-Prashiddhi Neupane’s preparation for abroad study had begun even before she took her grade 12 examination in April. By the time she graduated in October she had already taken Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) which is the basic requirement for enrollment in the United States. Having also completed Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT) she is now looking for appropriate colleges to study pharmacy for her undergraduate studies.

Neupane is just an example to portray the increasing attraction of Nepali students towards abroad study. In the past half decade, the numbers of students from Nepal leaving the country for the enrollment in international institutions across the world has increased three-fold. Records at Department of Scholarship under Ministry of Education, which issues No Objection Certification (NOC) to the students before leaving for their studies, shows a record high number of students obtained the certificate in last fiscal year. Around 33,000 students obtained the certification in the fiscal year 2015/16. The number was just 11,912 three years ago in the fiscal year 2011/12. The record at the Department shows the students have travelled to 76 countries across the globe for their education.

With the lack of a proper record keeping system at the Immigration Department, NOC letters are the only points of reference while calculating the number of students opting for foreign degrees. The umbrella bodies of the education consultancies which help during preparation and admission in the foreign academic institutions claim that around 80 percent of the students who acquire the letters leave the country. The number, however, doesn’t include those who enroll in Indian academic institutions, which stands at around 15,000 per annum. On an average around 120 students are leaving the country every day to pursue international degrees.

 “Having a foreign degree opens up opportunities globally,” Neupane says. “You create a scope for good employment when you return.” In addition the political instability, politicisation of the academic sector, lack of quality education providers in the country and the allure of foreign degrees fuel the number of outbound Nepali students, while financial security and high job placement rate in the country of their study are other incentivising factors.

“There has been phenomenal surge in students opting for foreign colleges,” said Prakash Pandey, chairman of Education Consultancies Association Nepal, ECAN, adding that Nepal, being a small nation, is among top ten countries in the world sending students to Australia and Japan. According to Australian Bureau of Statistics, Nepali community in Australia beat China and India in terms of annual growth rate of immigrant population The average annual growth of Nepalis in Australia is 27 percent, the highest among all the countries.

The numbers are similar for Japan as well. The study by Japan Student Services Organisation showed the numbers of Nepali students studying in the third-largest economy of the world increased by 55 percent, in 2015, highest compared to the previous year, highest among all other countries.

Travelling abroad for education has evolved into a global phenomenon as millions of students travel to various countries seeking greener academic pastures.  A report by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) showed around 5 million students travelled abroad for education in 2014, up from just 2 million in 2000. The document projects the number to increase to 8 million by 2025. The OECD report also shows that Asian students make up 53 percent of the total foreign students, with China, India and South Korea being the top three nations.

Kumar Karki, managing director at Landmark Education Consultancy, sees multiple benefits from pursuing an international degree. In addition to the quality education and development of global competency, students also get to immerse themselves in the diversity of the world as they get the opportunity to mix with the friends from different countries across in a single classroom. “This is a lifetime exposure. I strongly believe our students should get an opportunity to study abroad but we need to have a better plan to bring them back so that the country can benefit from their expertise,” said Karki, referring to the cases of Japan and China who sent thousands of their students to various European countries and the USA for education. When they returned to their home countries, they were given top level portfolios at the policy level and as the result the countries are among top three economies and among the most developed nations.

Seeing the upward trend of Nepali students travelling aboard the British Council has increased the quota of the IELTS by over 25 percent to 36,000 this year. Similarly, IDP Education (Australia) has also resumed conducting the test starting this year. The IDP (Australia) had been running IELTS tests in Nepal for a decade, before halting operations three years ago. In the lack of adequate quota for IELTS in Nepal, hundreds of students were compelled to travel to India to take the test. An IELTS score is mandatory for enrollment in many countries, including Australia. 

NOC issued

Fiscal year    No of students 

2011-12         11,912

2012-13         16,499

2013-14         28,126

2014-15         30,696

2015-16         33,000

Published: 29-12-2016 11:45

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