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Changing trends in the subject choices of Indian students

Where have Indian students been trotting off to for study in recent years? And the kind of subjects we seem to be picking increasingly...

Mahesh Ramani

The traditional subject choices are still being made by students; but there is a rise in the number of students opting for unique courses, such as a degree in animation & gaming technology.

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Indian students make up a huge component of the international student population in countries like the US, UK, Singapore and Australia. Traditionally, Indian students have chosen ‘safe subjects’ like law, medicine and computer science and electronic engineering when studying abroad. These have always been considered safe prospects as there is a steady availability of jobs in these subject areas.

The world as we see it today

September 11, 2011, the horrific attacks in the US perpetrated by Al Qaeda, signalled the impending doom that lay ahead. By 2005, the economic slump was peaking in the US and the collapse of mortgage lending in the US in 2007 created a ripple-effect. The economic collapse in the US, affected countries all over the world. Suddenly a job in the IT-sector in India was no longer secure. Companies that had ridden the wave of the IT-boom, now faced the prospect of closure and ‘downsizing’. Many employees lost their jobs; many had to take massive pay-cuts; and the IT-sector lost its sheen.

Students seem to realize that ‘Computers and Information Technology’ is no longer a safe bet. Law and medicine courses that are on par with the world’s best are available in India itself. Plus, the last decade has seen a number of international institutions of repute setting up ‘satellite and partner-campuses’ in India. The easy availability of student loans has made the process of studying abroad much easier for this generation of students.

The traditional subject choices are still being made by students; but there is a steady increase in the number of students opting for unique courses, which make them ‘stand apart’ from the remaining crowd.

Chasing new horizons

Did you know that there are more than a million paintings and murals in the ancient temples of India that need restoration? As the country’s population keeps growing and the demands for electricity increase, there is a huge demand for energy managers who can effectively manage energy distribution and consumption.

India has always been a ‘must-visit’ spot on many an international tourists’ list. There is a huge demand for well-trained and skilled workers in the hospitality-industry.

The animation industry is at an all-time high; with analysts predicting a year-on-year growth ranging from 8 to 12 per cent every year for the next five years.

Popular choices

Some popular subject choices being made by Indian students are courses in hospitality management, healthcare management, aircraft maintenance engineering, animation and gaming technology and micro-biology.

Sandwich courses

Students are willing to experiment and are opting for sandwich courses that offer them subject expertise in multiple subjects. Maths and sports-psychology, computer-technology with statistics, art with psychology are some popular subject combinations.

The future

The world needs not just dentists, IT-geniuses and high-flying lawyers; the world needs trained agriculturalists to increase the production of food-grains, teachers who can guide the next generation of children and environmentalists to protect the mountains and the rainforests. There are a whole range of vocations that need skilled people to practise them. 
As Indian students begin exploring the world it is time to look back within the country and find what needs crying attention. Be it food security, infant mortality, public transport, sanitation, deforestation; destruction of archaeological sites — there is a lot to be done.
One hopes that the students who go abroad to study — will return one day to their homeland, and use the skills that they have learnt to find solutions to the problems that plague the country.

Worried about choosing the right course?

Neha Jain Neha Jain,
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