CHENNAI: The Covid-19 pandemic has brought about a perspective shift in how Indian students are narrowing down on their destinations and courses of choice for higher education, a recent study by edtech platform Leap has shown. While the UK, the US, Canada, Australia and Germany continue to top preference charts, countries that earlier seemed unconventional for overseas education are now finding a place among preferred destinations. 42% of Indian students are now looking to explore non-English speaking countries like France, Italy, Japan and Scandinavian countries, among others, the study titled Leap-Ipsos Strategy3 Study Abroad Outlook Report has found. Comparatively lower tuition fees, permanent residency pathways, accessibility to work permits, scholarship opportunities and interest to explore niche specializations are some of the factors that have a role to play in fuelling this changing interest, the report said. The Netherlands, the UAE, South Korea, and the Philippines are other emerging destinations among Indian aspirants. “While the percentage of Indian students travelling to these newer countries is still at the nascent stage, the trend seen is quite promising. Indian students slowly expanding their horizons in terms of their choices is going to define the next era of diversification in the overseas education space,” Leap co-founder Vaibhav Singh said. More than 46% of respondents have chosen France as their destination of choice. Around 25% of these students prefer courses in finance and accountancy, followed by 17% in commerce and business management. Low cost of living and tuition fees are the key drivers for Italy becoming a popular destination, in comparison to other European countries. 21% selected commerce and business management as their preferred course in the country, followed by 17% who wanted to pursue data science. The arts and culture programmes offered in Denmark, Norway and Sweden, such as courses in acting, drama, film, languages, literature and music have drawn interest from around 21% of respondents. As many as 556 students were surveyed during July-August 2022 for this study.