DUBAI // The mad rush for places and impossibly high entrance standards at Indian universities may see more students opting to study in the UAE.
There are 13 million students fighting for places in Indian universities this year, and the top institutes will only accept those with high marks - in some cases, as high as 100 per cent.
At Sri Ram College of Commerce, for example, students are only allowed to apply if they studied in the commerce stream at high school and achieved 96 per cent in their final school examinations. Those who did not study commerce must have perfect marks - 100 per cent - to get in.
Amritha Menon is in the Grade 12 commerce stream at Our Own English High School, Dubai.
She has yet to decide where she will pursue her Bachelor's in Commerce next year, but says she is looking at some colleges here.
"Many of my classmates are planning to study here due to the high cut-off points at Indian universities and some of them are not that ambitious to try for colleges like Sri Ram," she said.
Sanjeev Verma, the chief executive at Intelligent Partners, a higher education consultancy firm in Dubai, said universities like BITS Pilani-Dubai and Manipal University in Dubai may be good options for students who plans to continue their education here.
"Those who come top in their class, who want to gain admissions at top colleges in India, may lose out. And regular students may have to content themselves with B or C grade universities," he said.
But if Amritha does decide to study here, she will have her work cut out to convince her mother to let her. "If she studies here, she will never get the exposure that she would if she was in India," said her mother, Renuka Menon.
Mrs Menon, 41, believes an education in India will form part of her grooming because her daughter will learn to move her way around the competitive environment there.
Alphin Varghese is a Grade 12 commerce stream student at Our Own English High School, Al Warqa. He said he is considering studying here because none of the undergraduate degrees in business administration offered in India interest him.
"I think Dubai is more relevant to the field of business administration," said Alphin.
But not all students in Dubai are willing to give in to the intense demands of Indian universities.
"I definitely have not done the work that is required to get me to an Indian Institute of Technology(IIT) college but I am still hoping that I'll be able to get in at a National Institute of Technology(NIT) college," said Jerry Bobby, a 16-year-old matriculant at Delhi Private School, Dubai.
The reason for his optimism is that NIT colleges - considered the second best in the country for engineering students - select applicants based on their SAT scores, final exam marks and extracurricular activities.
"I have a good sports record along with a good academic record which might work in my favour," he said.
Usha Balachandran, senior supervisor at Our Own English High School, Dubai, said universities have been forced to raise cut-off marks because students are attaining higher scores every year. "There is no dearth of students with outstanding scores," said Mrs Balachandran.
But she admits that college admission criteria needs to be reviewed: "An aptitude test or the academic result of the last four years of school will help consistently outstanding students to gain admission to the best university."