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Heart Surgery in India for $1,583 Costs $106,385 in U.S. Why not going to India for college?

If we trust Indian physicians for heart surgery, why not their college professors for our kids - and pay a much much lower bill?

Photo of Niandong Wang
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Apologize for the photo (photo credit: Michael Crabtree/Getty Images.  For an open heart surgery on a baby in India) that might seem a bit too graphic. 

But for the same surgery, the cost is only $ 1,583 out there vs $ 106, 385 in US, according to Bloomberg.  No wonder more Americans are jumping on the planes to India for medical tourism these days.

If we trust well trained Indian doctors to operate on our hearts, why not highly capable Indian college professors for our kids' brains, too?  Although the cost could vary, we can probably be safe to say that the housing price there (or the cost of maintaining a top professor) will never be as crazy as, say, in the San Francisco Bay area. 

Note: To be specific and on the point,  I am only talking about the quality and the cost of 4-year college education in India vs. in US.   Just like we can't go to India for all kind of surgeries (even the cost might always be lower),  I am not talking about graduate school or Ph.D programs.

PS - I wasn't born in India nor graduated from an Indian college.  But I do have a lot of friends falling in this category, and know of at least three CEOs (Satya Nadella of Microsoft, Sundar Pichai of Google, Shantanu Narayen of Adobe) completed their undergraduate degrees in their homeland.  

What is a provocation or insight that might inspire others during this challenge?

Affordable colleges for Americans could be outside US.


Join the conversation:

Photo of Smruti Agarwal

I am a student from India. It is true that the point is not about different strategies adopted by the Indian colleges, it is about the lower cost of living in India. Most of the public colleges are extremely cheap but the staff is underpaid, the buildings are old and most of the campus facilities that western universities provide are not available to us. Moreover, I feel the Indian education system is vastly different from the American education system due to differences in culture and values. In India, the stress on personal growth and development in the process of learning is not so much. Currently, I am studying in Australia and I can see the difference in my learning. Based purely on my experience, enhanced learning process and stress on personal growth and development makes Australia a better choice of education for me in spite of the higher costs associated with it.

Photo of Eric P. Rhodes

Something to think about: What is it that foreign colleges do differently that afford them to offer lower tuition rates? Maybe there are strategies there that can be employed stateside.

Photo of Diana Kolusheva

I believe that the point is not in different strategies, but in different cost of living in other countries. Foreign colleges spend less on staff salaries, operations, etc. and that enables them to offer lower tuition. I am from Uzbekistan and tuition fee there is much lower than in US and would be more than affordable for Americans; however, it is still not really affordable for local people due to different living standards. I feel this can be the case for India as well

Photo of Eric P. Rhodes

Good point, Diana. I wonder if the cost of education is comparable when accounting for currency conversion and economics? Admittedly, it's not my area of expertise so I guess that's more of an open-ended question. Maybe there's an expert on OpenIDEO who can answer that. :)