When Madhav Verma completed his masters in management studies from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business about a year ago, the 25-year-old information technology engineer, who cherishes an ambition of starting his own fund, decided to take up a job in India. Despite having a few lucrative offers in the US, Verma decided to return home to Delhi as he felt it was more favourable for his career.
“I had multiple opportunities back in the US. But given the dynamics in India, there is tremendous opportunity in my area of investment banking and asset management. The PE investment landscape is very hot here with lot of transactions. That kind of arbitrage is difficult to find in developed markets,” said Verma, who is a senior associate with Wodehouse Capital Advisors.
Indu Upadhyay, who majored in anthropology from Bryn Mawr College, a women’s liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, and had initially thought of staying back in the US, returned home about a year ago. “I was fed up with the American culture. I wanted to come back and be carefree and easy about the world,” she said.
Moreover, Upadhyay said she would be able to relate better to the consumers in the country. “The context for me is more interesting here as I have grown up here,” said Upadhyay, who works in the Mumbai office of global market research firm Ipsos. She had an offer from Wakefield Research in the US.
Verma and Upadhyay are not the odd ones out, as an increasing number of Indian students going to study abroad are turning down overseas offers to take up a job back home.
There are multiple reasons for this, say industry experts. India has a lot more opportunities as well as good quality of living. Many of these students have their own family businesses back home, which they want to come back and support, while there are some who are not from the top-tier institutes who might be finding it tough to get a job there.
Rohan Ganeriwala, chief executive of education consultancy service Collegify, said an increasing number of his clients or students who he had serviced to go for studies abroad were returning to India.
“In the past decade, India has become a more welcoming place for graduates with degrees in subjects beyond STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics). Career options such as entrepreneurship and research are now considered lucrative pursuits, and the job market is also more welcoming to students with social science and humanities degrees,” he said.
“The evolution of the job market signals a shift in the attitude of Indian employers. This increasingly globalised outlook is what is attracting graduates back home,” he added. Many are returning also because they do not find the Trump administration welcoming at all.
“Earlier they used to get the degree as a substitute for a visa. With Trump playing his cards, they have to come back. Earlier they used to run to Canada but that visa option has dried up too. The permanent resident status, which used to be easy, is now a lot tougher,” said SV Nathan, partner and chief talent officer at Deloitte.
Also, greater availability of education loans and higher flexibility in repayment is making it easier for students to shun a dollar job for an Indian pay packet. “I had 85% scholarship and the rest I can pay over 10 years in small quantities,” said Upadhyay.
As per industry estimates, the number of students going abroad for education from India increased 7-10 percent from a year ago in 2017. Industry trackers said while there was an overall increase in the number of students opting for a foreign degree, there was also a rise in the number of people who were coming back after the degree.
Then there are scions of family businesses who prefer to return after a foreign degree. Rohin Sureka, managing director at pen tip manufacturing company CRI Ltd, a group company of the Emami Group, wanted a degree and exposure in the US to add value to his family business back home.
Sureka, son of Emami director Priti Sureka and the first in the family to go for foreign education, double majored in marketing and entrepreneurship at Drexel University in Philadelphia. In June last year, after completing a four-year degree, Sureka joined CRI after two internships abroad—one at pen company Prodir in Switzerland and the other at Germany metal manufacturer Wieland.
There are also a lot of students coming back and launching their own ventures. At the same time, Indian corporations value foreign degree because education in developed countries is more research oriented, self-study-based and involves rigorous training.
“As a result, there are plenty of opportunities back home for people who want to come back and work,” said Piyush Agrawal, owner of Abroad Education Consultants. Nathan said while there was indeed value for such education back home, it must be relevant.
“Global corporations find it useful when they have global mobility as part of their development policy,” said Nathan. “It is also a good way to advertise that an Indian company is going global if it is a part of their strategy.