Where Should I Study Abroad in 2023/24?

By StudyLink

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Thinking of taking the leap and studying abroad in 2023/24?

As the covid pandemic era ends around the world, more and more students in each country are thinking of studying abroad for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

But with the changes in visa rules, university admissions requirements, and work-visa authorisations following national and international lockdowns, many international students remain confused about the ins and outs of studying abroad, and what countries are the best for a highly ranked university degree.

Why Should I Study Abroad?

There are two main reasons why you should consider studying abroad as a prospective international student.

Firstly, it gives you the chance to experience a foreign culture, traditions, history and lifestyle. Students often say that the cultural differences of a new country are a shock to them at first, but later become one of their favourite aspects of studying abroad. Experiencing a different way of life than the one in your home country allows you to grow as a person and understand the world better, and it shows future employers that you are ready to interact with people from different backgrounds in a professional setting.

Secondly, your home country may simply not have universities which are at the same level of quality as some of the world’s highest ranked universities. North America and Europe, for example, are home to over 70 percent of the QS World Rankings top 1,000 universities worldwide. Africa, in comparison, offers less than 5 percent of such universities.

If you have the financial ability or scholarships required, then studying at a world-class university with leading professors and top-quality research facilities is a major bonus of studying abroad.

Naturally, this means that in areas such as North America and Europe, where most of the world’s top universities are based, admissions for international students are quite difficult and you must ensure that you have the best grades possible in high school and your undergraduate degree to boost chances of admission.

Where Can I Study Abroad?

As a prospective international student, you have the entire world at your feet! You can choose to study abroad in most countries around the world, especially those with well ranked universities such as Canada, Australia and the United States.

You are advised to carefully check the student visa requirements for each study abroad country from your home country, because some countries may have a complicated student visa process which requires more time and documents than usual.

For example, if you are an international student from Afghanistan or Iran, you will be required to submit additional documents, financial information, personal information and other details in order to receive a student visa in many countries with universities. For more information about student visas and their requirements, take a look at our International Study Visas article.

Additionally, another factor which will decide where you apply for studying abroad is the overall living costs and tuition fees in each country. Although some private university tuition rates can differ greatly, the rates for most public and private universities are usually within a specific range in each country.

In the USA, for example, public universities charge between 20,000-35,000 US Dollars per annum, whereas private universities charge between 40,000-55,000 US Dollars per annum for most courses. Specialised courses such as MBAs and Law degrees may even cost up to 80,000 US Dollars per annum. Tuition fees are slightly lower in most European countries, and living expenses are also more affordable in Europe than in most parts of the USA and Canada.

If you require financial assistance for studying at a university abroad, you should consider Germany, Sweden and Denmark, alongside a few other European countries which offer free tuition to international students. The quality of universities in these countries means that you are getting excellent value for money by spending only on living costs to study at a world-leading university. Other countries which offer free tuition to international students include Argentina, Taiwan and Finland.

Thinking about how you might be able to afford to study abroad? Read our Funding and Scholarships for International Students article for more information about how you can fund your studies.

See more information about all the study abroad destination options available to you.

Studying Near vs Far

There are many advantages and disadvantages to studying far from your home country at a foreign university. Below, we discuss a few things you should consider when applying to universities both near and far from home.

Friends and Family

By studying abroad near your home country, you will be able to regularly meet the people closest to you at home. The small time difference and flight time will make it far easier for you to be in touch with your parents and other close relatives. For international students who need to take care of elderly parents or manage a business in their home country, studying abroad near your home country makes perfect sense.

Low Travel Costs

Another benefit of studying near your home country is the low travel costs and less time spent travelling. This allows you to save money for more exciting travel adventures, and also make quick trips on long weekends to visit family and friends at home. This would be impossible if you were studying in a far-off country, with flight tickets costing thousands of dollars and flights taking more than 12 hours.

Engage with New Culture

One possible advantage of studying far from home when abroad is that you will have the chance to fully engage with the new culture and lifestyle in your new country of study. This is because you will not be busy making frequent trips back home, and will instead be focused on socialising with new people at your top-ranked institute and in your city, learning the local language, and travelling abroad.

Of course, in some cases, you may not have the option to study abroad near your home country because of a lack of universities near you. This is the reason why millions of international students from Asia and Africa apply to universities in Europe, North America and Australia every year.

Worried about being away from home? Take a look at our Culture Shock and Homesickness advice article for tips and information about how to get comfortable in your new country.

Where Will I be Accepted?

The large increase in students applying to study abroad means that you need to work harder than ever to make sure you are admitted into the university of your choice.

In terms of academic performance, most universities in Europe and the USA will only consider you if you have secured the equivalent of a 3.0 US-style Grade Point Average (GPA) score in your high school examinations or undergraduate degree. You should check online for sources to help you calculate your country’s exam scoring system into the US GPA system.

Additionally, highly-ranked universities prefer students with strong extracurricular records, social service work, professional internships and high scores on entrance tests such as the SAT and the ACT.

Additionally, for most North American, European and Australian study abroad destinations, you will be required to show proof that you are comfortable with English as the primary language of teaching at university.

International students can show their English language proficiency by taking tests such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or the IELTS. Acceptable TOEFL scores for top-ranked universities and student visas are around 80 on 120 on the TOEFL and 5-5.5 out of 7 on the IELTS.

Read More: English Language Testing for International Students

Alternatives to Studying Abroad

Pathway Programmes

Pathway programmes are courses that are designed to help prepare you for your degree or masters. They are particularly useful if you do not meet the entry requirements for a specific course, have changed your mind about what you want to study, or do not have the required level of language proficiency.

There are several different types of pathway programmes, some are designed to lead you onto bachelor degrees, some are created for masters degrees (also known as pre-masters courses), and some are to prepare or improve your language skills ahead of starting a degree or masters in a different country.

Also included in pathway programmes are foundation degrees. These can be studied as a standalone course, and you will be awarded a full Foundation level qualification on completion. Once you have graduated from your foundation course, you can choose to either pursue further studies, which could be a shorter duration than a normal degree, or you could choose to enter the workplace.

All pathway programmes are intended as a stepping stone to a degree or masters programme, and some come with guaranteed (or the increased chance of) admission to a specific programme at a university.

Find out more about Pathway Programmes.

Distance Learning

Distance Learning, or academic degree study based on online courses which can be accessed from anywhere in the world, has become increasingly popular following covid lockdowns.

There are two major types of distance learning available for international students today. The first is Synchronous meaning ‘at the same time.’ This method requires live communication online, because you will be attending classes at exactly the same time as students from all over the world, just like an on-campus class. The other method is Asynchronous, in which international students receive weekly deadlines for completing assignments and watching pre-recorded lectures which you can complete at your own pace. Most international students prefer asynchronous distance learning because it gives you the chance to manage your time and complete assignments at your own speed.

In case financial or travel-related difficulties make it impossible for you to study abroad, you should consider distance learning which costs only a fraction of a university degree on campus abroad. Whatever decision you make, you should be confident of the endless opportunities available to advance your career and experience studying abroad.

Find out more about Distance Learning.

Read more advice for international students or browse by your subject interest.

StudyLink is here to support you in your study abroad adventure, feel free to have a browse around the site and take a look at our various useful resources. Best of luck with your applications and studies!

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