Opposition walks out over Kerala government's inaction on overseas student migration

Opposition in Kerala's Assembly staged a walkout protesting government inaction towards rising overseas student migration, citing economic stagnation and educational quality concerns.
Kerala Legislative Assembly
Kerala Legislative AssemblyFile Photo

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Opposition staged a walkout from the Assembly on Thursday to protest the government's 'negative attitude' towards addressing the 'unregulated' overseas migration of students and the 'huge' social and economic impact it poses to the state.

Mathew Kuzhalnadan of the Congress, who gave notice to discuss the matter through an adjournment motion, said overseas student migration from the state, which was around 1.29 lakh in 2018, has touched 2.5 lakh in 2023, as per the Kerala Migration Survey. He said the overseas migration of students was mainly due to the stagnation of the Kerala economy. Lack of better living standards, freedom, and a 'cultured and liberal environment' in the state were also driving student migration, he said.

Kuzhalnadan also lamented the quality of education in the state, stating that only a little over 1% of the admissions in IITs were from Kerala. The success rate of students from Kerala in the NEET-UG entrance exam for medical courses was also on the decline, he pointed out.

Minister for Higher Education R Bindu disputed the statistics cited by Kuzhalnadan and said only around 35,000 to 40,000 students were migrating overseas from the state annually. Quoting figures tabled in Parliament, Bindu said Kerala's share in the all-India student migration figure was only 4%. The Minister said the government cannot prevent student migration as it is part of globalization. Instead, the government was trying to provide world-class quality and infrastructure facilities in the state's higher education sector.

The Minister said most of the students who migrate abroad are engaged in 'low-paying' jobs to support their education, which they are not willing to take up in Kerala. She pointed out that developed countries have liberalized the rules governing the entry of students as they are short of human resources to tide over their economic crises.

Leader of the Opposition VD Satheesan said funds to the tune of Rs 2,000 to 3,000 crore were being 'siphoned off' from the state every year on account of student migration. He said families are forced to cough up Rs 35-40 lakh each to facilitate overseas admissions for their children. "Uncontrolled migration is taking away the cream of our students and also depriving us of our demographic dividend," Satheesan pointed out.

Before leading the wakout by Opposition MLAs, Satheesan suggested that a proper mechanism should be set up in the state to monitor 'unregulated' migration and also to ensure that students are not cheated by recruiting agencies and substandard universities abroad.

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