Why the craze to pursue STEM in the US amongst Indian students?

Recent reports by the SEVP (Student and Exchange Visitor Programme) – the Department of Homeland Security state that 83% Indian students in the US are enrolled in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) related fields. Historically, more Indian students have traveled to the US to study MBA, but in recent years, this trend has changed in favour of STEM related fields. While earlier, even BTech graduates from India went abroad to do an MBA, now the focus of engineering graduates in on pursuing an MS or MTech, as per the survey. PaGaLGuY spoke to some experts to understand the reason for this preference.

According to Vibha Kagzi, CEO, Founder, ReachIvy.com , an international education consulting firm in Mumbai, “The US economy is more research driven as compared to India. The facilities and finances provided for research are higher than those provided here. Thus, Indian students prefer to study MS or MTech in the US as they get more opportunities for research in their fields.” MBA, on the other hand, requires more leadership and team related skills than researching. With the increasing popularity IIMs and ISB, and the lavish placements and pay packages provided by them, students are now looking to pursue an MBA in India only. However, when it comes to MS, Jyoti Shah, a Teaching Assistant in IIT-Bombay, who is also pursuing her PhD research there, says, “Research related funds and technology allocated to even top institutes in India is much less as that available in the US. One can get published in international journals. Here in India, the government focus is on publication in regional and national journals, which aren’t very well read on an international scale.”

Bakhtavar Krishnan, CEO, KIC Education, says, “US thrives on research. It is the hot spot for STEM-related studies as compared to MBA programmes.” For many middle-class students, masters degrees in the US is a costly affair due to the high exchange rate. Hence, when it comes to MBA, more Indians are now settling for Indian B-Schools like IIMs due to their increasing reputation.

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