While we often hear news about how labour migration is rising in Nepal, the international student migration which has been pushing young minds outside of Nepal, is an unaddressed issue which is silently becoming bigger.
Student visas have become the easier way out for youth to move out of our country Nepal. Australia, Japan, European Countries and the United States have become the most preferred destinations for students to move abroad.
To analyze what is causing such huge international student migration in Nepal and what are the possible causes and consequences of it, we talked to various stakeholders from this sector regarding the matter. These are some important insights they provided to us:
A life full of freedom in the West captivates young minds’ attentions
As the popular saying goes ‘Grass is always greener on the other side’, the lifestyle and the culture of West has become one of the major attractions for the young Nepalese minds to migrate abroad. Adding to that, the higher value of money abroad, also lures Nepalese young minds to move abroad as they see higher money making opportunities there.
Sweta Rauniar, an international student at Allegheny College in the United States of America, stated “When you are young, you have the innate desire to have a life full of freedom and the presence of that kind of lifestyle abroad has become one of the major enticing factors for young people like us to study abroad. The lifestyle and community in the United States is very progressive which helps young minds like us flourish without any boundaries and this tempts us to move to abroad for at least some period in our life.”
Also, she further added, “We see immense money making opportunities here in abroad, which brings us to these countries so that we become self-reliant individuals who can create a life for themselves. The higher value of money abroad is a key enticer of young minds who migrate abroad.”
Henceforth, the aspiration of an independent life also pushes people to move abroad for higher education.
Blaming the students for going abroad or blaming ourselves for not having the capability to retain them
Whenever international student migration is talked about, we question the choices of our youth to migrate abroad for educational purposes. However, we cannot question their freedom, can we?
The appropriate question to be asked is ‘What have we been doing so that our young minds can be retained back in our country?’
According to Ms. Sadhana Pudasini, Managing Director of Nissus International Education Foundation, “A genuine student has the full right to prioritize his exposure and go to abroad for education. Rather than only lamenting about international student migration, it’s now time to question what we have been doing to retain our young minds.”
She further added, “If we want to work towards reducing migration of young minds, we need to go to the root of the problem and analyze what’s causing the discrepancy between the developed countries and us that is causing the young minds to migrate abroad. Through a proper self-reflection of what is it that we are lacking, we can tackle the problem of migration of youths rather than by continuously being negative about it.
Meeting newer people and living in a diverse environment
Apart from the education system abroad, living in a diverse environment with other young people from different countries, is also an important positive aspect of studying in abroad which tempts young minds to migrate to abroad for educational purposes.
As stated by Mr. Samaya Khadka, content designer for Karkhana and a student who looks forward to apply to abroad “Being able to live in a diverse environment with other international students who come from their own varied backgrounds and who have their own set of experiences entices me the most about studying abroad and to be able to nourish myself in such a diverse environment, I want to apply abroad for higher education purposes.”
The Success Stories
We are often so pushed in seeing the negative, that the positive remains hidden. International student migration, will only mean bigger and greater benefits for our country, if our young minds exhibit the courage to come back to the country after gaining a significant international exposure abroad. We would like to highlight the opinions of two brave ladies who studied and experienced life at abroad and are now back to Nepal to ignite a positive cycle of change in their own home country.
Pranayna K.C., CEO at Eco Infinity
Ms. Pranayna K.C., CEO at Eco Infinity, is a brave heart lady who studied abroad and gained an international work experience by working in MNCs like Vodafone for a long period of time yet decided back to come to Nepal to start her own venture with establishment of Eco Infinity.
As we talked to Ms. Pranayna K.C., about international student migration, we found out that the spoon-feeding education system of Nepal has become consolidated in comparison to the ‘Educate and explore’ phenomenon of abroad.
Ms. Pranayna K.C. expressed “The updated education system of abroad is what pushes our young minds to those countries. In our country, we still have a spoon-fed system of education, where a student is given a textbook and is stated do’s and don’ts directly. While in abroad, the education system asks for the opinions of students as well.
Hence, the reason for the increase in International Student Migration in Nepal is the education system of our country and if we want to retain our young minds back in our country, the solution starts by dealing with the education system and improvising it from the roots.
Improvising the education system, however, is going to be a long term process and in the meantime if students want to go to abroad for higher studies, they shouldn’t be discouraged or stopped. Rather, in the meantime, our country needs to be developed and transformed such that by the time these students graduate and get a good exposure, the country is well-maintained and these young graduates can then be brought back to Nepal.
The love that Ms. K.C. had for her home country brought back her to Nepal. It is not unjustifiable for people to migrate abroad for education as it only provides them greater opportunities. However, coming back to one’s own country after gaining that huge amount of exposure is the kind of attitude that our young minds need to possess.
Apekshya Pradhan, Executive Assistant at Kathmandu World Schools
Ms. Apekshya Pradhan, is also an aspiring young women, who completed her Master’s in Business Administration from University of Greenwich in London and returned back to Nepal a year ago. She serves as Human Resource Executive to Kathmandu World Schools and is currently striving to create a sustainable education system in Nepal.
While talking about International Student Migration, Ms. Pradhan shared, “Dignity of labour is also one of the most attractive aspects of the West that liberates our young minds and gives them a sense of freedom.”
She further added saying, “In abroad, students have the opportunity to both earn and learn together. Doing the low wage jobs there in abroad is never a thing that harms your reputation or societal imagery because there dignity of labour prevails. Every job is equally respected there and because of value of money, young minds can create a live for themselves even when they indulge in menial jobs.”
She stated, “In Nepal, there exists a lot of societal pressure and people are only respected when they are indulged in high paying jobs or if they become successful entrepreneurs. So, in order to avoid such societal burden, young minds consider moving to abroad as a safer haven.”
However, in many cases the young minds aren’t also aware of the cons of migrating to abroad for education. The family and friends abroad post happy pictures of them living in there whereas the struggle they go through working overtime or living alone in a new place is not exposed in social media handles and this results in many young minds migrating abroad taking false hopes in their heart.
Ms. Pradhan went through her own ups and downs studying in abroad and after gaining a sustainable international exposure, she came back to Nepal, and now she strives to make Nepal a better place.
Living abroad for a certain duration, instills within one a different perspective about things, and with newer perspectives one becomes wiser. Hence, international exposure by studying in abroad is healthy both for the individual child and the country as long as our young minds have the courage to come back to their country and work towards a positive change.
By: Mahima Poddar