ICEF Monitor analyzed the challenges and opportunities that await international student recruiters in the tiny Asian country of Nepal.
So what is Nepali education system like? Although previously students in Nepal went to school for ten years, taking the School Leaving Certificate (SLC) in the 10th grade and optionally studying another two years of higher secondary education, grades 11 and 12 - Plus 2 (similar to an American high school graduate), now reforms are underway to introduce an integrated education system in line with international standards. This system is expected to be adopted by 2015 and according to it basic education will consist of grades 1-8 and secondary education grades 9-12. This reform is expected to contribute to Nepal’s socio-economic and sustainable development.
For students wishing to pursue degree education there are six universities in Nepal, but there are much more applicants than places. Thus many Nepalese students decide to go for their degree overseas to benefit from high quality, employment opportunities, scholarship programmes, or simply escape the country’s political instability.
For a small country, Nepal sends out a surprising number of students to study at the tertiary level. In 2010 there were over 24,000 Nepalese students studying outside of Nepal, up from 17,700 in 2008. And this number keeps growing making Nepal a source country to keep an eye on.
Nepal’s total population in 2011 was 26.5 million and as of June 2011, 55% of Nepal’s total population was under 25 years of age. This means that the number of students seeking higher education opportunities will continue to grow thus making Nepal a source market for a long term.
Although Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world with a per capita GDP of US $1,300 (2012 est), there is a growing middle class population who are eager to send their children to university. Most Nepali families cannot afford the high tuition fees in US or UK. The US has long been a popular destination for high-achieving Nepalese students because of the scholarships many American colleges and universities offer. According to International Educational Exchange’s (IIE) 2012 Open Doors report, Nepal ranked 11th as a place of origin for international students to the US, with the majority of them studying at the undergraduate level. Other popular destinations include Australia, Japan, India and the UK.
In terms of immigration policy several of the top destination countries for Nepalese students – US, UK, Australia – have implemented changes recently which have negatively affected international student recruitment. However students desire to study abroad did not decline and Nepalese are still eager to get admission to overseas unis.
In conclusion Nepal may not be a primary market due to financial and visa challenges, but with the promise of growth, it is going to be a promising source market. Nepalese students want to study overseas and all international student recruiters are encouraged to take a close look at Nepal and make use of this vast market.
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