New Delhi: The depreciating rupee has no doubt cast a cascading effect on the economy but the worst-hit are Indian students studying abroad or those planning for higher studies in foreign universities as they have to shell out more money compared to what it was required a year ago.
As the rupee has weakened by about 20 per cent since the beginning of the calender year, overseas education costs have also gone up almost equivalently.
"The conditions have turned 'foreign education' a luxury affair, not something for the middle class to think as parents have to slog out a lot more money compared to earlier to get their children into good universities," says Neha Racch, senior counsellor at Apex Consultants.
The rupee coupled with a slowing global economy, strict visa norms and stringent immigration policies have made the prospects of overseas education more gloomy, she says.
"And the impact is quite visible as there has been about 20 per cent decline in the number of students applying for higher courses in the US, the UK and other countries," Rachh told PTI.
The rupee has fallen by 20 per cent against the dollar since January and by as much as 24 per cent since last year.
Moreover, the steep depreciation has made the rupee a much weaker currency against some major currencies. The rupee has fallen by around 18 per cent against the Singapore dollar, 17 per cent against the Canadian dollar, about 16 per cent against the British pound and 13 per cent against the Australian dollar.
Rupee depreciation is more detrimental for middle class families as on several occasions, they take education loans in order to make payments of fees, experts feel.
In April, the UK government withdrew the visa option for non-EU students to stay in Britain to work for up to two years post-graduation. Now students must have offers of graduate-level jobs, paying at least 20,000 pounds a year, prior to the expiration of their student visas if they wish to stay on to
"In this format, thinking of getting a job would be very foolish," says Vohra.
More than 2.6 lakh Indian students are currently studying abroad. While more than one lakh students are pursuing higher studies in the US, followed by the UK and Australia.
According to the Immigration Department of Australia, 14 per cent all international students studying in the country were Indian nationals whose number reached 27,500 in 2011-12 academic season.
"But there is a significant decline in the number of Indian students applying for higher courses in foreign universities due to the weakening rupee, and we advise our clients to be patient and wait for some time," says Rachh.
"Even a minor appreciation in rupee could save thousands of money for students," she says, adding we have helped many students to save Rs 25,000 to Rs 35,000 by paying on a day when the rupee recovered from its previous lows as against the dollar.
Meanwhile, some experts have also questioned the utility of these foreign education, given the poor global economic situation and the poor condition of US and European labour markets.
"There is a need to review the utility of foreign education particularly since it is becoming increasingly difficult to get an overseas job," says Dhiraj Mathur, Executive Director of PWC India.