Will Brexit push foreign students towards Europe?
LOOKING AHEAD The UK’s tough visa regime and concerns over immigration policies of the US might send more Indian students to France and Germany
Concer ns over t he United Kingdom’s tough visa regime and immigration policies of US president-elect Donald Trump are likely to send more international students to Europe even as France and Germany show up prominently on the list of their preferred countries. In the last three years, Germany has inched closer to the UK as a higher studies destination for Indians. WHY FRANCE? France is a major gateway to Europe’s work and business culture. International students often enjoy access to leading academics, with small class sizes and intensive teaching, and that too for a low fee (when compared to the US and UK). French engineering and business schools also fare well in European rankings.
Data for academic years 2013 to 2016 indicates that the number of Indian students in France has increased. While it was 3,037 in 2013-2014, it increased to 3,481 in 2014-15 and 4,231 in 2015-16.
For Indians, management, finance and economics are the most popular programmes, with 60% of students opting for these courses in France. According to Alexandre Ziegler, ambassador of France to India, this year, the French Embassy offered nearly 400 scholarships under its flagship Charpak programme for master’s degrees, exchange semesters and research internships. French companies also offer scholarships to Indian students, including tuition fee waivers and monthly stipends.
Run by the Embassy of France in India, the Charpak scholarship offers three types of funding for bachelor’s and master’s levels. All scholarships are merit-based. Every Indian student who comes to study in France in a public university benefits from tuition fee waivers by the government. The embassy will conduct the Admission Tour in India, a higher education fair, in February 2017. ONWARD TO GERMANY Indian student mobility in Germany is on the rise. The number of Indian students in the country has more than doubled in the last five years. The latest figures released by the Federal Statistical Office reveal the number of Indian students in Germany growing by 15.8% over the last one year to 13,740 (winter semester 2015-16). Indians form the second largest group of international students enrolled at German universities with engineering programmes accounting for the maximum number of Indians (72%).
A decade ago, both France and Germany were attracting less than 5,000 students every year clubbed together. Maria Mathai, director, MM Advisory Services (that released the India Students’ Mobility Report 2016), says that Germany in 2009 had about 3,200 Indian students and France had 1,200. Last year, Germany crossed the 11,000 students mark and France had close to 4,000 students. “So it is clear that Germany has left its fellow European neighbour behind,” she says. For Germany, “the biggest factor has been the decision by German varsities to waive off tuition fee for foreign students,” says Mathai. When studying abroad, an important thing that comes to mind is the high cost of study and living. In French public institutions of higher education, the government bears the bulk of the cost of education, which is an average of euros 10,000 (₹7.27 lakh) to euros 13,000 (₹9.45 lakh) per student per year. Annual tuition fees at public institutions are set by law. The fee for the 2015–16 academic year is euro 184 (₹13,376 approx) for bachelor’s programmes, euro 256 (₹18,611 approx) for master’s programmes, and euro 391 (₹28,425 approx) for doctoral programmes. Additional fees may be applicable for specific services. Tuition rates at private institutions – particularly schools of business and management – are generally higher from euro 3,000 (₹2.18 lakh approx) to euro 15,000 (₹10.9 lakh approx) annually.
The average cost of living is euro 700 (₹51,100 approx) per month. Students can get up to 30% of their accommodation rent reimbursed by the French government. In Germany, education is subsidised by the state and, therefore, state-funded institutions of higher education charge no tuition fee. Thus,virtually every student in that country gets a scholarship. Certain specialised courses and courses offered by private universities attract a fee.
Students require about euro 790 (₹57,433 approx) per month for subsistence ie housing, food, clothing, study material and other expenses such as health insurance and leisure activities. This amount can vary. As an international student, one is permitted to work for 120 full days or 240 half days in a year. In case of part time work positions such as research/teaching assistantships, these limits may not apply. VISA NORMS IN FRANCE As of 2015, every Indian student who has completed a degree at the master’s or a higher level in France can extend his or her stay. This measure has been introduced to enable Indian students to seek suitable employment in France in line with their studies.
Students are allowed to work part-time to support themselves during this period. In 2013, the Embassy of France in India decided to facilitate travel to France for all Indian citizens residing in India who have studied in France, including those doing Indo-French dual degree programmes.
As of July 2013, all such alumni subsequently applying for a tourist or business visa for France, are eligible for a visa with a long period of validity (up to five years, subject to passport validity) if the degree obtained in France is at the master’s or a higher level.
This visa allows applicants to stay in the Schengen area for up to 90 days, with a 90-day gap between stays.
Students who have graduated before July 2013 can also apply, for this rule is being applied with retroactive effect. GERMANY’S WORK RULES Germany gives you unlimited work and residence permit. The German parliament has implemented a European Union (EU) Blue Card and a new unlimited work and residence permit to grant foreign graduates of Ger man universities unrestricted access to the job market. After completing the degree in Germany, one can stay on in the country for up to 18 months to look for a job that is in keeping with one’s education.
Once one finds a job, the residence permit issued for the purpose of studying, can be converted into a residence permit for taking gainful employment. Germany has a strong industryacademia linkage. A lot of scientific research is funded by the industry as well. During studies, one can get the opportunity to do internships with German companies.