Each year, over 3 lakh Indian students go abroad for higher education. This trend has increased significantly in recent years. Until about 15 years ago,the figure was not even a third of what it is today, which means that in the last decade and half, the number of students going abroad from India has more than tripled!
Leading destinations for higher education have been the United States of America, the UK, or other commonwealth countries such as Australia,Canada, New Zealand and so on. Although foreign education is very much expensive abroad as compared to India, increasing salaries and disposable incomes of the growing middle class is ensuring that each year there are more students to take the plunge.
Countries like the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand are dynamic countries, and their people are energetic and friendly. Most of these countries are multicultural and yet at the same time, largely English-speaking and therefore, easy for an English speaker to settle down in. These countries are also safe and provide a friendly society in which students can learn and travel freely.
Some foreign countries also offers excellent value for money and a standard of living that is among the highest in the world. For example, living expenses and tuition costs in Australia are considerably less expensive than the UK and USA. Other countries offer advantages such as paid internships while studying.
1. International Reputation
Many students are driven to study abroad because of the fact that good foreign universities have an international reputation. Countries such as the US, UK, Australia, Canada and Germany have a vast number of universities that are consistently listed amongst the best in the world. As more and more institutions in these countries are growing their international reputation, students are now provided an even greater choice than ever before.
2. Experiencing a foreign culture
The opportunity to spend an extended period of time in a foreign country is one of the major factors that attract Indian students. The idea of experiencing a culture that is so different from ours is in itself an appealing aspect of studying abroad, for many students. It might just be that students derive pleasure from encountering new experiences and perspectives, or they might be looking forward to excellent and rewarding careers in those countries. Whatever be the case, international experience and intercultural adaptability and skills are very highly valued by many reputed employers.While some students might have a particular destination or culture in mind, others are generally open to any of the well-established countries for higher education.
3. Newer Technologies
Leading universities abroad have a reputation for adopting new technologies at a faster rate than in most other countries. They are also helped by the fact that they are blessed with one of the highest rates of internet access in the world. Facilities for teaching, training and research are world-class in terms of state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms, outstanding libraries and modern technology.
International qualifications are recognised by employers and leading educational institutions not only in India, but also in many countries around the world. Moreover, most courses and training undertaken by international students are of extremely high quality and infrastructure. It is a system of learning which is authorised by the government of each of these countries.
4. Quality Assurance Systems
One unique quality assurance system is unique both in its structure and its rigour. International students, and even their parents, enjoy an unparalleled level of service and financial protection. The country is committed to providing quality education to students -- be it national or international. The Australian Quality Training Framework has been set up by the government to strengthen the quality assurance processes in education. Australia provides the world's most rigourous protection for international students through ESOS.
5. Multicultural society
Australia is a safe, multicultural, friendly and harmonious society. Australians value the wealth of cultural diversity and social sophistication that international students bring to the campuses and communities. Great care is taken in looking after international students and helping them to adjust to the Australian way of life. Australia has a low crime rate and strict gun control laws providing a safe environment. One's study plans are also not likely to be upset by political turmoil. People from about 200 countries have migrated to Australia, making Australia one of the most culturally diverse countries in the world. The multicultural nature of Australian society means international students are readily accepted by other students, and teachers are experienced in teaching classes to students from many countries.
6. Visa red-tapism
Most of us are familiar with the high-handedness of the American and the British visa officials. On any given day, a genuine visa application may get turned down for reasons best known to them. This is gradually going in favour of new academic destinations. Students are more or less frustrated about the lengthy and costly visa application procedure for the US and UK. The Guardian has recently published a report saying UK visas should address the problems encountered by one-third of students in obtaining visas -- 18 per cent found it a lengthy and difficult process even though their first application was eventually successful, 8 per cent were initially refused but received a visa on a second application and 5 per cent received one after appealing their initial refusal.
7. Cost of living
In Australia, a student gets value for money in terms of cost of living. The conversion factor is cheaper compared to the UK or US.
8. Job opportunities
While the UK closes doors for doctors and the US focuses more on IT professionals, international students have started to hit upon Australia which offers more job facilities in multiple disciplines. Be it in agriculture or aeronautics, accounts or actuaries, Australia offer work permits to international students like none other.
9. Possibility of more scholarships
Australia being comparatively new in terms of attracting foreign students offers more scholarship opportunities compared to the United States or the UK. It, however, needs to be kept in mind that Australia is a less populated yet vast country which can fit in employment opportunities at a rate faster than any other part of the world.
10. More research opportunities
Australia offers research opportunities to eligible professionals willing to enhance their career. The biggest advantage is Australia offers country-based research that is spread all over the continent. Selection for these highly regarded research opportunities are based on merit and is highly competitive, and a proven track record of academic excellence is a pre-requisite. Despite a decrease in the number and proportion of student traffic, the British and the American officials seem reluctant to take a note of it although university officials project the dip in revenue. Slowly the wheel is turning full circle. Many a change will define the future of academic destinations for international students -- the pattern right now strongly directs towards the continent of Australia.
11. Benefit from scholarships or lower tuition fees
Studying abroad is certainly not always a cheaper option; indeed, for many (if not most) international students, itís more expensive to study abroad than it would have been to stay closer to home. However, this of course depends on how the tuition fees and living costs compare in your own country and your potential study destination. If youíre based in the US and decide to study in Germany, for example, you could actually end up saving a lot in tuition fees. You may also be able to benefit from international scholarships, such as those available to attendees of the QS World Grad School Tour.
12. Improve your language skills
Lots of students are also motivated to study abroad at least partly by the prospect of improving their language skills , which again can be a major asset when applying for graduate careers. This could mean spending time taking a preparatory language course, in order to study a full degree program taught in the local language. Or you may study in your native language, but have opportunities to improve your foreign language skills through immersion in the student community.
13. Start building an international professional network
Finally, studying abroad can be an opportunity to establish a really strong international professional network , by establishing friendships with classmates from all around the world, which will long outlast the duration of your study program. If this is one of your motivations for overseas study, you may want to make sure you choose a university with a particularly diverse student community. Of course, itís not essential to study abroad to achieve this goal; you could choose to study in your own country and still have the chance to meet people from across the globe!