There are many factors to be considered when choosing your study destination. Picking your subject area can be relatively straight forward, consider selecting the area you are interested in, or have prior experience in. But how do you decide where to study?
You should think about the following questions when deciding where to study.
● What language do you want to study in?
● What style of education are you looking for?
● How difficult will it be to get a visa?
● What are the University entry requirements?
● Which destinations are the most affordable?
● Are there opportunities for employment after study?
● Will culture shock be a problem?
Possibly the most important factor in choosing where to study is the language in which you wish to complete your studies. Deciding on the language will help you narrow your choice of available study destinations.
If you are choosing an English speaking destination you will probably be interested in the top 3. USA, UK, and Australia respectively have the highest number of international students. The UK and USA have an excellent reputation, their institutions account for the top 10 universities in the THE rankings.
In addition to the top 3, Germany and France are popular destinations for International students. Malaysia, China and Singapore are more recent destinations that are actively pursuing International students and offer study programmes in English.
Style of Education
The teaching style you hope to receive is also an important factor in deciding where to study. Do you prefer to be left to your own devices and learn independently? If so a UK education may be more suitable. However, if you prefer more direction and guidance you may opt for an education in the USA. If you would like the best of both worlds Australia may be just the place.
Rory, a student who spent a year at California State University, puts it like this; “In the US it’s compulsory to go to all your classes and read every inch of the set texts, but not much outside of this. In the UK it is almost the opposite. Undergraduates are pointed in the right direction by their professors, but then left to their own devices to find the right resources and produce their own analysis.”
Once you have narrowed down your options based on the language and style of the education you want it’s important to consider the factors outside of your control. One of these factors is student visas. To put it bluntly you can’t leave home without one!
A student visa is mandatory for gaining entry to your chosen destination. The application process can vary depending on your chosen destination, your citizenship and your intended course of study.
Here are some useful blog articles StudyLink has previously written on the subject of visas:
You can read all our visa related articles in the Student Visa category of our blog.
Here are some useful links for researching the visa requirements of various countries:
● UK Student Visa: http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/studyingintheuk/
● USA Student Visa: http://www.usastudentvisa.org/
● Australia Student Visa: http://www.immi.gov.au/students/
● Canada Student Visa: http://www.cic.gc.ca/EnGLIsh/information/applications/student.asp
● Japan Student Visa: http://www.mofa.go.jp/j_info/visit/visa/index.html
● Singapore Student Visa: http://www.ica.gov.sg/services_centre_overview.aspx?pageid=256&secid=182
University Entry Requirements
The other factor outside of your control is your acceptance into your chosen university. There are a lot of international students, according to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in their 2009 World Conference on Higher Education report, there were more than 2.5 million students studying outside their own country. UNESCO predicts that the number might rise approximately to 7 million by year 2020. Therefore you will encounter a lot of competition to gain entry into the prestigious institutions.
If you are seeking an English language education make sure you research the English language requirements. You will be expected to sit for language tests such as IELTS and TOEFL.
You can read more about English language tests at StudyLink’s study advice pages.
For many students the decision of where to study will simply come down to costs. An overseas education can vary greatly in cost. Not only can the cost vary between country, but also between regions in the same country.
You can research average costs by country on StudyLink’s directory pages.
It is important to remember that tuition fees are only one of the costs involved with overseas study. You must also consider accommodation, travel, cost of living and other costs like health services and insurance. Some destinations such as the UK and Canada offer free health services, so you should research and allow for factors such as these in your calculations. StudyCostCompare offers a free service for finding out how much it costs to study abroad.
An overseas education can help you find postgraduate work around the world. An education from the US and the UK is highly regarded and will no doubt improve your chances of finding work.
However, finding work in your chosen destination following your studies can be more difficult. Some countries such as the US have heavy restrictions on work visas.
The UK have made it easier for international students to stay on and work following their studies with the Tier 1 Post Study Work Visa. This allows postgraduates to stay in the UK for up to 2 years after their study. However, the new UK government are looking to abolish this visa so it is important that you research what visa, if any, you can get following your education in your chosen destination.
Often the most overlooked factor when deciding where to study is culture shock. While culture shock should not put you off pursuing an overseas education it is important that you prepare for it, especially if your chosen destination’s culture varies greatly from your home culture.
You can read our previous article Top 5 Tips on Culture Shock to help you understand and prepare for this.
Experiencing different cultures is one of the most exciting aspects of an overseas education. This experience can be both personally and professionally rewarding.
Good luck on choosing your study destination.
For further reading on study destinations check out the destination directories at StudyLink’s Study Abroad Course Search website. Remember to sign up to get access to our country specific guides. These will tell you everything you need to know about studying in your chosen destination.
For further study advice check out StudyLink’s Study Advice pages. You can find more information about study visas, costs, funding and scholarships and entry requirements.
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