Top US and European colleges mop up India’s university rejects

India is one of the world's few growth countries, with a burgeoning middle class to match. They are keen to get a top-notch education for their children, but with Indian colleges oversubscribed, many are turning to the West as a fallback option.

­With a population of 1.2 billion, trying to make it to the top in India can be tough.  

Most Indians believe that the key to success is getting a good education.

But with one of the fastest-growing middle classes in the world, more people than ever can afford a college education, making competition for spots at the top universities fierce.

 “There are some schools which are so academically-oriented that, in extreme cases, there are even suicides if your results in the board exams aren’t 90% or more,” high school student Mallika Pal told RT.

Entrance to India’s colleges and universities is based solely on the results of high school students’ board examinations. This year, students were told they would not even be considered for Delhi University’s commerce program unless they scored 100 per cent in their exams, RT’s Priya Sridhar reports from New Delhi.

In a twist to India’s traditional “brain drain,” when India’s top talent looked to the US or Europe for better opportunities, India’s smartest students are now exploring the West as a fallback if their dreams of getting into an Indian institution don’t work out.

“It is so ironic because the US, which is sort of the paragon for amazing higher-level studies, is actually your safety net as compared to India. But it does happen.  And it is, in fact, not a possibility, it’s a probability,” Mallika Pal explained to RT.

Mallika is making an early application to Princeton University in the United States.

She believes she actually has a better chance of getting into the Ivy League school than she does of being admitted to a prestigious Indian one.

“In the US, the admission process is much more holistic. The Indian admission process is, literally, one mark and, in a rare case, an interview,” she says.

Experts in Indian college admissions are also seeing a trend of Indian students heading abroad out of necessity, rather than desire.

They say that India needs to focus on establishing more higher education programs for its students.

 “Even when I was in college here in India, I think the same number of colleges with the same number of seats were available,” Indian expert in college admissions Rajesh Arya told RT. “The growth in the number of colleges and the number of places has really not kept up with the growth in the population.”

For now, Mallika Pal is focusing on her Princeton application in the hope that if things go her way, she won’t even have to take the dreaded Indian board examinations in the spring.

“Ideally, I would like to see myself in the US,” she says “I know a lot of people who have been so relieved that they got their early decisions and they sort of slacked off as far as the boards went. It was such a relief that they got in somewhere.”

Placing her bets on the West --- to avoid the competition at home…