This is a piece in an occasional series of articles about the BRIC nations. If you are looking for international students, these rising powers provide an important opportunity, but you have to know about the country and its people to effectively recruit. We previously discussed Brazil. In this series, we’ll be discussing India- it’s rise, obstacles it faces, how recruiters can appeal to potential Indian students, and how to make sure students are adjusting well to life in America, as well as further resources for reading.

It is tough to generalize when you are talking about a country that makes up almost 20% of the world’s population. Or, rather, it is easy to do this, but you shouldn’t. Making assumptions about India is a fool’s game, and making guesses about its people is a surefire way to be wrong. That said, if you are international recruiter, you do have to figure out a way to tailor your message in order to appeal to Indian students.

Because make no mistake: although India has been surpassed by China as a top provider of students to U.S. schools, that doesn’t mean it isn’t an amazing source of talented, intelligent, dedicated students, who have the potential not just to transform India, but to bring to your school exactly the kind of students you are looking for. Indeed, India can possibly become even more important for your school in the coming year, if you know how to effectively go about recruitment.

Indian students on bicycles

India’s youth is talented, dynamic, and eager to learn- your school can help them do so.
Image from Flickr user Natesh Ramasamy

Why India Will Be Bigger

There are a lot of external signs that seem to indicate a slight decline for India. It seems counter-intuitive, if not downright contrarian, to say that this will actually lead to an increase in the amount of Indian students looking to study abroad, but it is a distinct possibility.

For one thing, the population of India is not slowing, and it is predicted to surpass China in the next decade. This has already led to the establishment of an extremely young population, all of whom will be needing an education and jobs. This is where your school comes in.

We don’t want to take anything away from the Indian education system. India has been a literate society far longer than the West, and has long maintained a tradition of learning, with primary school enrollment rates at 99%. The problem is that it is nearly impossible to create enough schools, with enough teachers, at the secondary and college level. This creates a huge need for an outlet, and one that your school can provide. But just because they need a school, why should they choose yours?

The need to prepare for the future

Colleges and universities in the United States have long welcomed Indian students. The ratio of student-to-school has increased the Indian need to study abroad, having been squeezed out of Indian universities. Indeed, we have even seen a huge spike in applications to U.S. graduate schools. This may not seem to directly affect your school, but it does. After all, the foundation for a great college experience is built in secondary school. This is doubly the case when it comes to studying abroad. Your school can help an Indian student acclimate to living abroad, being away from home, possibly speaking a second language, and the overall American cultural and educational climate.

This is a huge step up in the enormous competition to get into a good school. After all, experience in the States will help the student prepare themselves for the next level, and differentiate themselves from their peers. Your school is the first step in their standing out.


We mentioned that the Indian economy has been going through some rough patches. And while the forecast for the rupee is looking up, it is still shaky. This doesn’t change the basic facts on the ground- there are simply more people than schools. What it does change is the ability many families have to pay for school, leaving Indian students more dependent on scholarships, especially when it comes to university.

If your school has a great scholarship program for international students, that can provide a solid recruiting strategy. But even if not, you can help Indian students prepare for not just the toil of a U.S. university, but paying for it. While scholarships are dependent on any number of factors, having previous experience in the United States can only help them stand apart when it comes to the fierce competition. Studying in the United States can help with essay writing and even personal connections, which sometimes can be the difference between success and failure.

Don’t Paint With Too Broad a Brush

It is easy to assume that we know what Indian students want. The stereotype is tech- all tech, all the time. This has some basis in reality- after all, India is a major global tech hub. But there are more jobs than coder, tech service, or engineer. You know this, instinctively, but when crafting a recruiting program, it is easy to assume a common denominator. However, India is in need of thousands of different jobs.

Emphasize the holistic nature of your school. You can help prepare international students from India with the skills they need for almost any career. Education is about more than a vocation- you can help these students become the well-rounded, engaged, global citizens that India needs to continue its amazing growth.



The international student experience is both challenging and exciting. Whether you are a student considering studying in America, their parent, the host family, the Head of School, an international coordinator, or even a potential classmate, there are as many opportunities for confusion as there are to learn. The ISPA is here to help bridge that gap, to ensure that this opportunity and adventure is met with the highest level of success.