Skill-based courses growing popular among study abroad aspirants. Experts explain



Indian students are graduating into a labour market that demands new skills—reshaped by automation and the pandemic. Coursera’s Campus Skills Report 2022 shows the strong alignment between the skills trends and the courses Indian students applying to foreign universities. According to the report, Indian students opted for foundational and digital skill-based courses, ranging from C programming to cloud computing, not just in India but also abroad.

The report also highlights that students from every discipline are pursuing technology skills, such as computer and statistical programming, as many aim for secure jobs in the technology sector.

Assessing this trend, Vaibhav Singh, the co-founder of study abroad platform Leap Scholar, said, “Increasing aspirations have made way for evolving preferences and trends among study abroad aspirants, especially after the pandemic. Advanced digital skill-based courses that have seen a jump in demand include the likes of Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Data Analytics, Cyber Security, Cloud Computing, etc. among others. Students are increasingly looking for courses that are niche, but gaining prominence in the professional world and can offer exciting career opportunities.”

According to a Redseer survey in India, 70 per cent of learners who prepare for an overseas education opt for specialised or skill-based courses and the remaining 30 per cent go for general courses. Study abroad applicants are traditionally concerned with fees, future employment opportunities, potential salaries, and building a career that is pandemic proof. Tarun Aggarwal, Head StudyAbroad at CollegeDekho, believes that subjects like Computer Sciences offer a student the chance to make a career in an industry that fulfils all the above criteria.

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“The US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that computer and IT jobs will grow by 13 per cent between 2020 and 2030. This is faster than the average projected growth across all occupations. This means more employment opportunities and better salary packages. Also, computer and IT jobs are compliant with remote working environments which makes them secure from the adverse effects of the pandemic like lockdowns and travel restrictions,” added Aggarwal.

Shubham Gupta, a student from Delhi, has applied for a bachelor’s degree in Information Technology at the University of Queensland, Australia and believes that his decision to study a skill-based course was backed by diverse factors including post-study work opportunities, course relevance in a decade, and better financial stability.

“In terms of opportunities, the demand for skill-based courses such as data analysis, AI, ML, and cyber security happens to be present at international locations and this demand is here to stay for the next two decades. Hence, after considering all necessary factors I chose to study IT and not any other generic course. Education is of no use if it cannot generate employment… At least that’s what I believe,” shared Gupta.

Apart from the factor of employability and better career prospects, experts also highlight that India’s hyper-competitive environment for admission to skill-based courses is always driving the trend of such students applying to the same course at foreign universities.

“The actual number of seats is far less than the number of eligible candidates for the skill-based or tech courses. This leads the parents to send their children abroad to get more opportunities,” a study-abroad consultant told

Meanwhile, in the past decade, foreign universities have introduced hundreds of programmes that train students in these in-demand new-age skills.

“Often these programmes are coupled with industry/hands-on exposure which gives the students an opportunity to apply the pedagogy in real-life use cases and thus helps them be better prepared for jobs in the future. The availability of funding and required infrastructure to deliver these courses to students make going abroad attractive for students,” Singh of Leap Scholar pointed out.

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