This post has been self-published on Youth Ki Awaaz by Olipriya Roy. Just like them, anyone can publish on Youth Ki Awaaz.

Why Indian Students Can’t Afford To Dream Of A Foreign Education

More from Olipriya Roy

For an Indian student, studying in an Ivy-league college has been a dream but something that they could never aspire to. Why is that the case? Foreign universities have been systematically charging International students double or triple the amount of money a student national student would have to pay.

Pursuing Political Science at Oxford University is my dream but the tuition fees are something I can’t afford and the chances of me getting a scholarship are rather bleak,” confesses Priyanshi Bansal, a Sociology student from Kolkata.

All Souls College, University of Oxford. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Premier Indian institutions are still several steps behind Ivy-league universities which makes studying abroad a more lucrative option than studying in India.

Even elite Indian universities like Delhi University (DU) lack several facilities and have multiple issues. In global rankings like the QS World Rankings, Indian institutions do not feature in the top 100 universities. This along with the general state of the education system nudges students to apply at foreign universities.

Out Of Budget, Out Of Bound

The exorbitant rates of tuition fees coupled with the weak socio-economic background of a majority of Indian students means world-class education being gatekept.

The admission fees and the yearly fees of these courses are extremely overpriced and way out of budget for the average Indian who dreams of sending their child for higher education, abroad.

The average UK student pays about 10,500 pounds per annum while Indians, as international students pay 31,350 pounds per annum only as tuition fees. This means a vast majority of Indians can’t afford education abroad without financial aid.

India’s median salary is around Rs 32,000  which means more than 40% of Indians earn less than Rs 32,000. The tuition fees of the first year at Yale for pursuing an MBA is Rs.53.4 lakh.

The average Indian can only dream of an Ivy-league education. The only thing that makes this situation worse is the exams that are accepted by these universities are difficult to crack and inaccessible to many. The exams are equally expensive and not feasible for most of India’s average earning population.

Along with the tuition comes the cost of living in a foreign country which adds to the expenses. The cost of living in the UK for a month comes down to somewhere between 1100-1400 pounds, an infeasible proposition for international students from humble backgrounds.

What’s ironic is that these international students, especially those from Asia and Africa come from countries that aren’t as rich as their western counterparts, a part of which could be attributed to the period of colonial exploitation.

Instead of taking steps to correct the disparity and boost representation, the governments of these countries instead choose to not only charge higher amounts but also bring in tough immigration policies to keep out students from the global south.

The exchange rate of the rupee in contrast to the pound further exacerbates the problem of purchasing power parity (PPP).

Charging exorbitant fees from people who earn less and have less financial aid is discriminatory and preferential on several layers. It keeps Indian students systemically away from these Ivy-league universities.

Are Scholarships Enough?

Scholarships are scarce in these colleges because, with the sky-high tuition fees, only scholarships provide a safety net for the investment put in education. Three full scholarships are available for Indian students who want to study in Oxford for their higher studies.

It is excruciatingly hard for an average Indian to survive and almost impossible without a part-time job which again is hectic with less pay.

You may only work up to 20 hours a week. The United Kingdom laws restrict students from working full time which means they get lower pay than the minimum wage as they are not fully employed.

Several restrictions are laid on working part-time as a student starting from the guidelines laid down by your university because of your major and then the governmental restrictions.

Educational loans in private commercial banks are not something everyone can afford. These banks have fluctuating rates and these rates are subject to the market’s current state.

Educational interests last as long as fifteen years for the students. It becomes tough to pay them back later on as with fluctuating rates and fixed salaries.

Crowdfunding education has been another option for those who haven’t been able to secure the ample amount of funds.

It is usually a safer approach and relatively less expensive than student loans and the like. The major flaw with this sort of funding is that it is not a secure path to education. Only a few individuals make it through and match their target amount.

Sumeet Samos Turuk is an anti-caste activist and rapper who was a student at Jawaharlal Nehru University has raised Rs 38 lakhs for his Oxford education and he is one of the hundreds who could fund his education through this method.

Crowdfunding is the only option for me if I want to go to Cornell, My parents can’t afford my Masters abroad and my part-time job does not pay me enough to pursue higher studies,” a DU graduate, who identifies as queer, told YKA on conditions of anonymity.

What Can We Do Better?

With the current declining condition of the educational ecosystem, more and more students aspire to a better quality of education abroad to secure a stable future.

It is time for the Indian government to frame better policies to improve and for our universities to improve the quality of education. India should engage in bilateral agreements for more affordable education and subsidized tuition fees.

Scholarships for Indian students, especially need-based ones should be encouraged and furthered. Beyond bettering the international landscape, the government should take immediate steps to improve the situation back home and make sure figuring out finances is the least of students’ worries.

The author is part of the current batch of the Writer’s Training Program.
Featured image is for representational purposes only.
You must be to comment.

More from Olipriya Roy

Similar Posts

By The Third Eye

By The Third Eye

By The Third Eye

Wondering what to write about?

Here are some topics to get you started

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Read more about her campaign. 

A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

A native of Bhagalpur district – Bihar, Shalini Jha believes in equal rights for all genders and wants to work for a gender-equal and just society. In the past she’s had a year-long association as a community leader with Haiyya: Organise for Action’s Health Over Stigma campaign. She’s pursuing a Master’s in Literature with Ambedkar University, Delhi and as an MHM Fellow with YKA, recently launched ‘Project अल्हड़ (Alharh)’.

She says, “Bihar is ranked the lowest in India’s SDG Index 2019 for India. Hygienic and comfortable menstruation is a basic human right and sustainable development cannot be ensured if menstruators are deprived of their basic rights.” Project अल्हड़ (Alharh) aims to create a robust sensitised community in Bhagalpur to collectively spread awareness, break the taboo, debunk myths and initiate fearless conversations around menstruation. The campaign aims to reach at least 6000 adolescent girls from government and private schools in Baghalpur district in 2020.

Read more about the campaign here.

A psychologist and co-founder of a mental health NGO called Customize Cognition, Ritika forayed into the space of menstrual health and hygiene, sexual and reproductive healthcare and rights and gender equality as an MHM Fellow with YKA. She says, “The experience of working on MHM/SRHR and gender equality has been an enriching and eye-opening experience. I have learned what’s beneath the surface of the issue, be it awareness, lack of resources or disregard for trans men, who also menstruate.”

The Transmen-ses campaign aims to tackle the issue of silence and disregard for trans men’s menstruation needs, by mobilising gender sensitive health professionals and gender neutral restrooms in Lucknow.

Read more about the campaign here.

A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

Share your details to download the report.

We promise not to spam or send irrelevant information.

A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

Sign up for the Youth Ki Awaaz Prime Ministerial Brief below