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Lower interest rates on education loans than conventional lenders. Quick offer letters from dream universities. Personalised debit cards to make purchases abroad. Remit money home easily. These are some of the many promises that study-abroad counselling and financing firms—those we like to call ‘edfin’ companies—are making to woo Indian students. 

The market is expanding—already the second-largest exporter of students abroad, ~two million Indian students are set to fly out by 2024, according to a report report Redseer ~2 Million Indian students would be studying Abroad by 2024 Read more  by consulting firm Redseer. In 2021, about 445,500 Indians went abroad to study. Student spending is also climbing and is likely to touch $75-85 billion by 2024—over a 2X increase from 2019. 

To tap into this demand, both big and small players have raised their bets. While funding crunch, layoffs, and spiralling losses characterise the online-learning segment; edfin firms are hiring counsellors, inking partnerships, and securing funding. 

Leap Leap The Ken Leap Finance’s chance to disrupt the post-Covid study abroad market Read more , for instance, raised $75 million from investors like Owl Ventures, Steadview Capital and Sequoia Capital India  in June and is on the verge of becoming a unicorn. Blume Ventures-backed Leverage Edu, valued at about $120 million, also raised $22 million earlier in 2022 and is on a hiring spree to double its workforce—at a time when giant edtech rivals Byju’s and Unacademy Unacademy The Ken Out of options, Unacademy forces teachers to sell courses Read more  are slashing jobs. 

Edtechs operating in other domains are turning their heads towards this segment. upGrad, for instance, launched its overseas-education division in 2021, and expects it to be profitable by the year ending March 2023—even as its overall losses tripled for the year ended March 2022.

Competing with them are international players who also want a piece of the potential $80 billion pie. Global giant IDP opened more than 20 new offices in India in 2022, months after taking over IELTS delivery in the country from the British Council. Also, US-based study-abroad counselling-service provider Halp.co entered the Indian market in November.  

Agents and counsellors under edfin companies typically work on a commission model—partnering with universities abroad. These firms usually have a target for each university; and based on the number of students they send, they get a bite out of the tuition fee as commission.  

AUTHOR

Shruti Sonal

Shruti is a Delhi-based reporter who looks at India's clean energy ecosystem through the lens of the intersection between businesses, policy and environment. She has previously worked with Reuters and Outlook Business.

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