While most universities and colleges are genuine about what they offer, applicants need to verify the claims to check for authenticity and red flags if any, alerts Piyush Kumar, regional director, (South Asia), IDP Education, an overseas education consultancy.
With countries reopening their international borders for vaccinated individuals, students planning to study abroad are in full swing to build a global career.
After a wait of almost two years, some students will finally be able to experience on-campus learning and get the maximum exposure that international education provides, especially the ones who've begun their classes virtually or deferred their study plans.
The pandemic has caused a significant shift in various daily and business operations, leading to a rising demand for new skills and requirements.
Institutions worldwide have also introduced courses to cater to this rising demand for new-age skills and meet the needs of highly trained professionals across all sectors.
For anyone who wishes to earn an international degree and want to attain a world-class education abroad in emerging domains, s/he must research the choices well, take advice from destination experts and follow these 10 rules before shortlisting their institution.
1. The authenticity of the institution
While most universities and colleges are genuine in their marketing and communications of what they offer, as an applicant, you need to verify the claims to check for authenticity and red flags if any.
Find out details of their best courses, and how they are different from others.
Universities and institutions that provide everything to everyone may not be the right choice.
Apart from that, many ranking organisations and accreditation bodies recognise and authorise courses and institutions. Always look for accreditations and choose an educational institution with expertise in a specific field.
2. Check your eligibility
The eligibility to study abroad varies with the institution. It also depends on the course the student is opting for.
Most institutions ask for academic requirements that may include standardised test results like the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) SAT, and more.
Students should ensure that they have appropriate admission scores and certificates before applying for the university. For instance, some courses may require students to complete a foundation course before applying for a degree.
To avoid such confusion, students can check the eligibility criteria on the university website or get guidance from study abroad counsellors.
3. Consult alumni
Alumni are the true representatives of any institution. Reaching out to former students will give applicants a fresh, updated perspective.
Asking questions about the course, university or faculty can help students understand the institution's limitations and prepare them for any unforeseeable future.
International students across the globe are eligible for various types of scholarships and grants. If you are eligible and apply on time, you may even be considered for a full tuition waiver.
A scholarship will help reduce your tuition fees and help you better allocate your finances.
5. Financing studying abroad
Studying abroad requires budgeting and financial planning as well.
The course fee and living costs can influence a students' decision regarding the destination, course, institution and lifestyle they want.
Students can look for loans and grants to secure their visas because some countries require a certain amount of funds in students' accounts while they arrive in the country.
Therefore, it is important to choose the destination as per the resources and financial assistance available.
Important documents, such as official academic transcripts, letters of recommendation, English language proficiency test scores, and others, are essential for students planning to study abroad.
In addition to this, students must apply for their visas well in advance and ensure that the permit covers their entire program period.
Check the university and country guidelines for document requirements and deadlines before preparing your application.
7. Physical check-ups
Before leaving for their destination, students should ensure that they are in good health and vaccinated as per the requirement.
It is suggested that students should consult a doctor and explain their plans to study abroad.
In such a scenario, the doctor may make some specific recommendations. Nowadays, with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting the functioning of various countries, students are asked to submit an RT PCR test at the time of arrival. Hence, it is essential that students thoroughly study clauses laid by their authorities for the test.
Travel insurance that covers overseas care is worth investing in as it may cover medical emergency, trip interruption, emergency medical evacuation, and other unforeseen circumstances.
For instance, the policy comes in handy when a student gets injured or loses their passport during an adventure activity.
Most countries also ask for mandatory medical insurance to travel there as a student.
9. Part-time work opportunities
Most international destinations usually provide part-time work opportunities that students can utilise to fulfil their living and socialising expenses while studying abroad.
For example, on an F1 visa, students can work up to 20 hours per week while staying in the United States.
Knowing these details may help you plan your time and finances while gaining relevant internship and work experience alongside studying in an international university.
10. Locate the nearest embassy
In an emergency, it is best to reach out to the nearest embassy or consulate for assistance.
Students should keep the Indian embassy's contact details handy.
Learn about the services and provisions given by the embassy to students. For example, some provide 24/7 consular services; others may work at scheduled office hours.
While the process of studying abroad can get overwhelming, students might require expert advice to guide them and help them realise their ambition.
If there is any confusion, seek expert advice and reach out to professionals well in time.
I wish all the aspiring students the very best for their future.