Hyderabad, April 14

Indian students will continue to be in demand in the United States as they have been gaining advanced knowledge and technical skills, experts feel.

They believe that that the Trump administration's proposed bar on H1B visas will have no impact on Indian students as reforms are driven by the industry's need for advanced knowledge and skills.

"As Indian students have been gaining advanced knowledge and technical skills beyond their bachelor's degree, through work experience and advanced degrees such as graduate coursework, they will continue to be in demand," Patrick Phelan, Assistant Dean of Graduate Programs in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, Arizona State University (ASU), told IANS.

Holly Singh, Senior Director of International Students & Scholars Center at the ASU, didn't agree with the view in some sections that the US is no longer an attractive destination for Indian students and pointed out that the country is still the leader in innovation.

A team from the Fulton Schools of Engineering visited India this month to recruit a new batch of international students ASU's International Students and Scholars Center provides support to transition from graduation to Optional Practical Training (OPT) and an H1B visa. "This unit has trained staff and counselors who support students in obtaining their OPT. The Fulton Schools of Engineering through its Career Services also holds two career fairs each year," said Singh.

"ASU is number one in innovation two years in a row now. This is because of our focus on providing all of its students with opportunities to succeed in becoming master learners," said Patrick, who is also a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering.

According to statistics, India had the highest number of enrolments at ASU in the engineering master's programme at 54.6 per cent. For the second year in a row, the largest growth was in the number of students from India, primarily at the graduate level and in OPT.

"Indian graduate students form not only the largest cohort of our master's students, but also play a vital role in ASU's engineering research programs at the master's and PhD levels," said Tirupalavanam G. Ganesh, Assistant Dean of Engineering Education and Associate Research Professor of Engineering Education in the Fulton Schools of Engineering.

The number of international students awarded with graduate degrees in engineering increased from just over 300 in academic year 2010-11 to over 1,000 in 2015-16. Over this same time, overall enrollment in Fulton Schools of Engineering grew from over 7,000 to about 20,000.

ASU is home to over 10,000 students from 135 countries and has recorded for its fall session, over 2,000 enrolments from India, alone, while the Fulton Schools have over 1,000 students from India.

ASU offers students the opportunity to be a part over 45 engineering student organisations and student professional societies giving them leadership opportunities and hands-on experience.

The engineering students at ASU have an opportunity to begin their entrepreneurship journey from the moment they start their course, with programmes like the Edson Student Entrepreneur Initiative, which awards students with $20,000 in seed funding and office space, or the Innovation Challenge competition which provide places for students to learn more about start-ups, said Ganesh.

The number of foreign students in the US topped 1 million for the first time in 2016. According to the Institute of International Education, engineering as a field of study bought in 216,932 students -- 20.8 percent of the international student population.

(Mohammed Shafeeq can be contacted at m.shafeeq@ians.in)

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