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India’s national currency Rupee has faced strong depreciation in the last couple of months. At first glance, this news might seem more suitable for an economics newsletter, as such currency depreciations affect above all companies dealing with foreign currency for imports and loans. However, with more than 200 000 Indian students studying overseas according to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the Rupee’s slump has a strong impact on Indian students abroad and possibly global student flows.
The continuous depreciation of the Rupee affects particularly its value in comparison to the US Dollar and the British Pound – the currencies of the two most frequently chosen study destinations of Indian students. Figures may slightly vary according to different sources, but the numbers of Indian students in the US and the UK amount to 194 000 and 12 990 students respectively in 2011/12 according to national statistics. The loss of value in Rupee currency by almost 20 % entails first of all higher living costs for Indian overseas students which are already enrolled at a university outside India. Yet, one of the bigger problems arises through the high tuition fees students are charged at American and British universities. Mainly covering the high tuition fee expenses through student loans, Indian students will be required to cover the shortfalls through further financial means such as savings, part-time jobs, or possibly additional student loans. Yet, these are often restricted due to the comparably high risk of student loan defaults.
Considering the rise of initial admission offers to Indian students at US universities as reported by the Council of Graduate Schools, and the 23.5 % decline of Indian students at UK universities in the last year due to a rise in tuition fees, it is uncertain how the situation will develop. Should the Indian Rupee not manage to stabilise again and appreciate against other currencies in value, the number of international Indian students might decline.