Student Degree Preferences

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Student Degree Preferences

Research found that about 62% of Indian learners favor short courses, while another 32% preferred teacher-led learning as a mode of study. Insights included in this brief touch on programs, choice in universities, faculty engagement, and price considerations that may be considered when bringing courses from abroad into India. The study by Pearson India and articles from India Times, Times of India, and Hot Course Abroad were the prime sources of information for this brief.

Type of Programs

  • The study conducted by Pearson India reports that 49% of learners in India prefer international course providers over domestic ones.
  • Of those surveyed, a whole 62% noted that they preferred programs that provided a hybrid model of learning. This is because the adult learners interviewed preferred combining the convenience of passive online learning and the quality gleaned from active in-person teaching.
  • Only 32% of those surveyed in Pearson India's study admitted to preferring full online classes. However, the same study found that most Indian learners were keen on short courses.
  • India Today notes that while courses in Sciences, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) are still the top choices among Indian students, more students are considering "offbeat" courses such as marine engineering, game design and development, and geophysics. The article notes that due to changes in technology and job market, specialized courses such as machine learning and artificial intelligence are also gaining popularity.
  • Hot Course Abroad notes that more Indian students are willing to experiment with "sandwich courses"- courses that offer expertise in multiple fields, for example, computer technology and statistics. Additionally, the article notes that less common courses such as animation, art curation and conservation are also experiencing an uptick among Indian students, as parents are noted as being more supportive and amenable to different courses.

Type of University

  • Inside Higher Education notes that Indian students are concerned about the quality of online education provided by universities. Employer recognition was also noted as an important consideration in the choice of university.
  • Bhushan Patwardhan, Vice Chairman of the University Grants Commission, notes that online curricula must come from universities noted for their high quality and must ensure that students are "job-ready" by the completion of their studies. The article notes that the University Grants Commission (UGC) is responsible for validating new online degrees in India.
  • Ajit Chauhan, the Chairman at Amity University Online in India, asserts that any UGC-accredited university with international accreditation from the US and UK would set benchmarks to determine the credibility of online degrees in India.

Faculty Engagement

  • 32% of Indian learners preferred teacher-led learning while another 22% were reported to prefer online courses that employed video lectures.
  • In Pearson India's study, survey participants "stressed upon" the importance of a mix of social, emotional and experiential learning as they considered these factors crucial to their success in the job market. It was important that these factors were incorporated in the hybrid model of learning.


  • While the Pearson India study noted that Indian learners were less price conscious, 36% still reported that the price of education was a constraint to them.

Research Strategy

To provide insights on the type of university, program and price, services, or faculty engagement that would be successful when bringing courses from abroad such as the U.S. or U.K. into India, the research team began by looking for surveys and studies that captured the preferences of Indian students in choosing degrees from abroad. Research identified 2 such studies; one by Pearson India in 2019 and the other by Hot Courses India from 2014. The research team also scoured through articles from leading news sites and thought leaders on the same. This uncovered a few insights on the type of universities and programs, faculty engagement and leading motivations for Indian students to pursue courses from aboard.

In the search, the research team also incorporated information from articles that highlighted why Indian students preferred studying abroad in US and UK universities. It was safely construed that these factors that contributed to their choice of studying abroad may be worth considering when bringing courses from the US or UK to India.

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