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Recruiting Intelligence

Recruitment Tips: What US Universities Offer Indian Students

"Will I get a job in India after I graduate from your institution?"

This is probably one of the most challenging questions for an US admissions officer from a prospective Indian student. In contrast to the question about scholarships which is bound to ocurr as well, the admissions officer has no control and very limited knowledge about the value of the degree in the Indian market.

The reality is that U.S. universities have done a very poor job tracking, let alone supporting, their international students' career opportunities in student home countries. Let's see if we can help.

We have seen more articles in the Indian and Chinese press about the value of a Western education in the home country. Still, very little data is available. So we were pleased to see the survey work from our colleagues from Sannam S4. We recently reported on Sannam S4's work identifying niche markets in India (See Intead Insights). Today we want to share another one of their reports that focuses on research on the employability of returning Indian graduates.

The authors state that "Organisations in India are willing to pay a premium for candidates from premier Indian institutes. Due to the lack of branding of international universities and lack of awareness of the benefits of hiring international degree holders, these graduates lose out on this opportunity." 

The reports goes into great detail on various aspects of career opportunities:

  • Are returning students desirable employees in respect to their skill set and other traits 
  • Will these returning students demand or obtain a higher salary in the Indian market
  • Perception differences between business sectors and the size of companies
  • Perceptions of prospective Indian employers on why students return to India

This data can inform how you position your university programs when recruiting in India. It should also prompt you to consider how you might develop employer relationships in India, strengthen your brand in specific regions or industry sectors all with the end-game of supporting your graduates. 

We have selected a number of charts from the Sannam S4 analysis and we'll cover the highlights for each of the charts starting on the left hand corner (see our summary explanation below the charts). For ease of use if you look at the actual report, we retained the original numbering from the report.  



  • Studying overseas does not offset the lack of experience with the majority of employers (figure 6). So not surprisingly, many Indian students seek OPT experiences to enhance their employment chances. 
  • Employers have a perception about why students return to India. Figure 29 addresses this tricky issue since many Indian employers assume that students study abroad to leave India for good. You can see that a majority assumed that the student could not secure a job overseas (20%) or needed to return due to the recession abroad (40%). Only about one third of employers think that graduates returned to take advantage of better employment opportunities and the growing Indian economy. 
  • The next two charts are core to the value of an international education in the home market compared to a prospective employee with an Indian education. Do employers believe that they will hire superior skill sets such as analytical skills, team players, etc. for their companies? Figure 11 shows that on average 50 % of employers think that Indian and Western educations are on par (green bar). Between 20 to 50% think that certain skill sets are superior with a Western education (blue bar). A small group 6-10 percent (red bar) think that the Western education is inferior. How do we feel about these results? Maybe the glass is half full? 
  • The researchers added an important question: What changes in employer perceptions if they have actual experience with hiring Western-educated employees vs. pre-conceived notions. The picture gets a whole lot better for these returning students (Figure 25). With one exception, employers feel that skill sets are stronger for Western-educated employees. Only the commitment to the organization is on par with Indian graduates which may not be surprising. Students that venture abroad and invest significantly in their education are looking for career advancement. 
  • Addressing the direct ROI of your more expensive Western education, Chart 25 shows that on average about one third of employers are willing to pay more for particular skill sets acquired via Western education than the locally educated individual. 

In general, we interpret this report in a positive light. In particular, employers with experience in employing graduates with international experience seem to see the value. Yet, it is clear from the report detail that this limits the employment opportunity to larger companies and the salary differential without additional practical experience makes it difficult to justify the incremental cost of a Western education. The majority of smaller companies will not have this experience and one could hypothesize that they would benefit the most from adding the perspectives and skill sets of Western educated employees to their organization. 

In our experience, U.S. and other Western universities have a long way to go in starting to build networks with employers outside their own national, mostly regional markets. The alumni office should be a strong partner in international student enrollment efforts since your graduates in these countries will be your best referrers.

Remember, your U.S. graduates working in India, China or elsewhere in the world can be a very helpful. And yes, we know that there is frequently limited contact data available within the alumni offices -- LinkedIn maybe your best way to connect. 

The value of social media: every single connection usually brings 150 or more new points of contact. Talk about global branding!