Studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity to get international exposure, receive quality education, and experience living life on your own. It is no wonder that the number of students earning a degree outside of their home country has tripled over the past 25 years.Growing numbers of middle class can now access education abroad programmes.In the past decade, the number of Indian students going abroad to study has increased tremendously.Though India is regarded as an education hub, the young minds are still charmed by the very idea of pursuing education abroad. UK, USA and Australia being the most sought after destinations, each year more and more students are opting for these countries. Canada, New Zealand and other European countries are too luring more and more Indian students these days.
But the coronavirus pandemic has altered the decision of many students seeking admission for higher studies abroad. As international borders are closed down to minimise the spread of the disease, the chances of studying in a foreign country have significantly reduced for aspirants. Many Indian students are changing or delaying their plans to study abroad this year due to coronavirus disruptions and are closely monitoring the pandemic situation in the most popular destinations like the United States, Britain, Canada and in Europe before making up their minds.Anyway let us hope things will become normal soon. Earning an international degree is not only about expanding your career and personal horizons but also about having an experience of a lifetime.
Why Study abroad
There could be hundreds of reasons why a student would want to Study Abroad and we have listed some of the most important ones here.
Plenty of Course options to choose: Studying internationally offers a wider variety of courses, some also including research options and skill-based training for students. This helps expand your horizons and opens up a world of new educational opportunities. Not only this, certain programs abroad also allow you to take different courses at the same time. So you can pursue your interest in literature while studying mathematics as your major.Moreover students are getting a chance to experience different styles of education. Overseas education system differs from Indian education system in teaching and learning situations.While in India emphasis will be on theoretical teaching and exams, foreign education system lays emphasis on Skill development, group discussions, practical and presentations.
Great Career Opportunities: When you finish your study abroad program and return home, you will return with a new perspective on culture, language skills, a great education, and a willingness to learn. Graduates who have chosen to study internationally are highly sought after by employers. Pursuing a degree overseas signals employers that you have courage, flexibility, cultural awareness and an understanding of how other people work and think. This experience puts you ahead of the pack when it comes to internships and job applications.
Hone Your Language Skills: Studying abroad provides you the opportunity to completely immerse yourself in a new language, and there is no better way to learn than to dive right in. Studies have shown that immersion is the best way to become fluent in another language and understand a new culture. Communicating confidently in foriegn languages like English will help you to excel in your studies and make new friends from various parts of the world .
Brings you international exposure: Studying abroad helps you learn new approaches to handle different situations, manage time between your studies and part-time jobs, experience international methods of instructing and deal with a cosmopolitan crowd. This in turn also helps to increase your acumen on the subject and life, in general.
You gain a global perspective: Students who study abroad develop a well-informed mindset and wider perspective towards other cultures and people. Whether you’re studying science, politics or finance, being able to think from a multinational perspective will help you face modern challenges and come up with innovative solutions in future. You will graduate with a richer set of experiences that will allow you to think more openly and creatively. As you learn to view the world through different lenses, you will also learn new things about your own country and culture.
Job opportunities while studying: International students trying to cover living expenses, tuition fees and other costs that may come up while abroad, by doing some part time jobs in parallel with their studies. Moreover, there are international students who pursue to gain practical experience in different subjects by doing different part time jobs .In any case, international students are encouraged to apply for a job in parallel with their studies since the benefits they acquire are much more than just economic.
An experience of a lifetime: Your study abroad experience doesn’t end at the campus gates. During weekends and holidays, you will have the chance to travel to tourist hotspots or get off the beaten track in your chosen country. You will experience a brand-new country with incredible new outlooks, customs and activities. The benefits of studying abroad include the opportunity to see new terrains, natural wonders, museums and landmarks of your host nation.That means you will be able to experience geographies different from India and come back with interesting stories for your friends and family. In addition, when you are abroad, you won’t be limited to traveling in just the nation in which you are studying – you can visit neighboring countries as well!. For example, if you go to a UK university, you can easily catch a flight to continental Europe to see Paris, Rome, Barcelona and many more fascinating places. studying abroad is therefore a unique opportunity to see more of the world, which is itself a hugely rewarding educational experience. There is no doubt that seeing other parts of the world will greatly affect your character and worldview, and help you prepare for life in a global world.
Studying abroad for an Undergraduate or Graduate degree is both time consuming and expensive. But at the same time, it will certainly be a worthwhile investment and life-changing adventure, if you make sure that you know the facts. One must check the websites of Universities for official data, and also go through the opinions expressed in the student forums for a wider range of opinions.The various factors such as the country selected for the studies, subject, language, job prospects, financial liability, climate etc. should be carefully analyzed. An assiduous selection of the subject from the vast variety of subjects offered based on the job opportunities, the scope for higher studies, international relevance and the portability is very important. While degrees in classical subjects like Geography, Literature and Chemistry are globally portable, the degrees on professional subjects like Medicine are less portable. For example, a Medical degree obtained from one country will be recognized in other countries, only after passing the equivalency examination.
Accreditation of universities and institutions should be examined carefully. Thanks to the innovations in graphics and design, nowadays even a University of average excellence can be presented as an Institution par excellence, through a beautifully designed website. So it is important to carefully go through the International ranking standards of the institution before making a decision. There are various ranking agencies such as QS(Quacquarelli Symonds), Times Higher Education (THE), US News, Academic Ranking of World Universities or Shanghai Ranking etc. for the ranking of various universities. The degree from a higher-ranked University ensures more opportunity and potential for obtaining a better job. On the contrary, however competitive a job seeker is, completion of the course from a substandard university does not guarantee the job opportunities even locally. We can confirm the accreditation of the institutions by referring to the Common Wealth Universities Yearbook, International Handbook of Universities etc. Moreover, UGC (University Grants Commission) can also provide the necessary information.
Everyone knows that studying abroad is quite expensive. Expenses on various counts like Travel, Accommodation, Food, Insurance, Course fees etc. are much higher than what one has to shell out in India. The cost of study varies depending on the Country, University, Course and Duration of the course. A 2 Year MBA course at the famous Harvard University in the United States(US) can cost more than one lakh US Dollars while studying for an MBA at a Community College in the US is much cheaper and may cost well below 20,000US Dollars only. Similarly studying the same Course of Famous Universities of US in any of their offshore campuses in Asian Countries like UAE or Malaysia is much cheaper and may need only a quarter of the original expenses that it needs in the US. Also one must think of the cost of living which varies from country to country. Though the tuition fee in many of the Universities in Europe is generally low, the cost of living in these European Countries are undoubtedly much high. In foreign countries students find suitable part-time jobs without hindering their academic programme, to meet the living expenses to some extent. In addition to this, talented students can avail of scholarships and fellowships offered by universities and charitable trusts. Education loans provided by various banks are also very useful to the students.
Normally, countries like US, UK and Australia are the favourite destinations of the Indian students. But countries like Canada, New Zealand, France and Germany have now become new targets. The main reason for the newfound attraction is the liberal immigration laws in these countries. This brings us to the discussion on how to select a country for the studies. Various factors like the financial status of the student, the economic condition and financial stature of the country, per capita income, stay back periods etc. affect the choice of the country. Job opportunities are more in a financially sound nation. In addition, we should also consider other factors like the local climate, law and order situation, the chances of disasters, and the attitude of local citizens and the indigenous people towards foreigners and women. These factors may seem to be trivial but in the changing scenario, they are increasingly becoming important. It would be better to consult students who have studied in each country before arriving at a final decision.
Preparations for the study abroad should invariably begin at least one year in advance. It implies that one should start their preparations for an Undergraduate program during the 11th class itself and that for the Graduate program, during the second year of the graduate study. It is important to keep in mind that Graduate programs in our country are Undergraduate programs in foreign countries. Similarly, our postgraduate programs are Graduate programs abroad.
A recent trend among our students is to move abroad for their undergraduate courses just after their Plus Two course. This brings further challenges. One must obtain good scores in proficiency exams like SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test), ACT (American College Testing) etc. for getting admission in undergraduate programs in the US and many other countries. These exams can be written in the 11th class itself. In addition to this, good scores in various English proficiency tests like TOEFL(Test of English as a foreign language), IELTS( International English language Testing System), PTE( Pearson Test of English) etc. are also needed. Different schools accept different test scores and so we have to cross-check about the acceptability of these tests in the chosen school. Countries like the US and Singapore accepts TOEFL Scores whereas the UK, Canada, Australia and European countries give preference to IELTS. It is advisable to have a basic knowledge of German and French languages to do higher education in Germany and France. Those who want to join the Graduate programs should complete the GRE ( Graduate Record Examinations), IELTS / TOEFL examinations with good scores. Candidates should check the websites of the Universities to know about which test is needed for the admission.
Some important documents needed to study abroad are Transcripts, Statement of purpose (SoP), Letter of Recommendation (LOR), Financial documents, visa etc.
Transcripts: Transcript is an official copy of a student’s academic record detailing the courses the student has taken and the grades received in each course. It is obtained from the university where the applicant studied.
Statement of Purpose (SoP)/Essay: A Statement of Purpose is an essay stating the purpose of applying to a particular course in a particular University. It is a reflection of your personality that you portray in front of the authority for getting enrolled in universities abroad. It is an important way to impress the committee by admirably portraying your profile through an essay that describes your personality traits, which cannot be reflected in your academic documents. SoP plays an important role in admissions. It also increases the chance of getting better scholarships and financial aid.
Letter of Recommendation (LOR): Letter of Recommendation is a signed statement from a person who knows you well professionally or has taught you in a subject that is related to the course for which admission is sought. LOR is a document written by the recommenders who can assess your skills, qualities, and capabilities as a part of your university admission application. Almost all universities and scholarship programs require at least two recommendation letters as part of the application process. These reference letters should ideally be written by previous teachers or professors who are familiar with your academic achievements and abilities.
There are two types of LORs depending on the recommended individuals:
- Academic LOR
- Professional LOR
Academic LOR: An Academic LOR is a document obtained by students from their professors. The Professors aptly narrate all the skills and achievements of that particular student which can be used by the student as a reference in the admission process.
Professional LOR: Several MBA programs abroad require a certain number of years as work experience from every applicant. In such cases, an Academic reference letter alone will not create a strong impact on your profile, but a Professional LOR can be immensely helpful. So it is important that you must ensure to get Professional Letter of Recommendation from the companies where you worked in earlier. This recommendation letter will speak about your contributions and the involvement in various projects while you were at that company.
Financial Documents: Applicants should submit some financial documents to prove the financial capacity to meet various expenses like tuition fees and other costs related to the course (books, travel, stay etc.). Bank statements, loan approval documents, scholarship letters, sponsorship affidavits, and certificates issued by a Chartered accountant are all accepted documents.
Visa: After accepting the letter of offer, the most important task is to apply for your student visa. A visa is a document that gives you permission to enter a foreign country. A student visa is only given out to people who have a confirmed place of study at a registered institution for a prescribed period of time. Visa procedures will vary from country to country. Detailed information will be available from the embassy of the destination nation.
Financial management is key to make your study abroad hassle free. Special care should be taken to convert our currency into foreign currency through authorized banks or money exchange agencies. It is better not to carry much cash on hand. Don’t forget that theft is common on foreign campuses and hostels. Unnecessary spending and impulsive buying should be avoided. It is a good idea to use Forex Cards. Forex cards ensure secured transactions and these can be recharged with Indian Rupees, as and when required. Forex cards also serve as identity cards for Indian students. A student bank account abroad help you in many ways. International students can avail many free services through such an account. Credit cards that do not have a transaction charge or service charge only should be used.
Part-time jobs along with studies can help you earn an income and will also develop an understanding of work culture. Full time Work without a post- study visa is punishable under the law. Ensure that the student has the physical ability to adapt to the climate of the country in which he or she wants to study. Choose an appropriate travel insurance and health insurance schemes by carrying out an extensive study about such schemes. One must stay away from the luring offers of fake websites and fake agencies. Instead all requisite information on higher education of each country is available at their Education Promotion Offices in India. Organizations like USIEF provides required information on the United States whereas the famous British Council gives detailed information on UK. Similarly the Campus France and DAAD helps those interested to pursue their studies in France and Germany respectively. Moreover, the Indian embassies functioning in all other nations provide whatever help needed to the Students from India. Therefore, the final decision on study abroad should be made only after detailed inquiries and thorough analysis utilizing all the available institutions and related websites.