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5 tips to decide the right country to study abroad

Last updated on: April 12, 2012 18:25 IST

5 tips to choose the right destination to study abroad



Karuna Survase, Executive Director, Grad-Dreams Education Consulting explains why students must research enough about the country before planning to take up a course

As the avenues for overseas education are increasing, educational institutes in most popular destination countries are following the same international standards and thus deciding the right destination country has become a complex decision for students.

A particular country may be appropriate for one student but may not necessarily be right for another.

Nevertheless selecting the right destination country is a crucial step for any student which further accentuates his exploration of the right opportunity.

Following are some factors that should drive the student's choice of a particular destination country.

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

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1. Consider the geography, location and climate

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The distance of the destination country from the student's home country can be an important deciding factor as it also constitutes sub factors like the cost of travel to and from the home country, depending on the number of visits you will be making to the home country.

The geographical conditions can also decide how comfortable a student will feel staying there, ease and cost of commuting within the destination country and so on.

If the geographical and climatic conditions are very diverse from the student's home country, the student may find it difficult to adjust which may distract him from his study.

A student should be adequately prepared both mentally and physically to adjust in his country of choice.

Geography and climate are also important criteria if the student views it as a sightseeing opportunity in addition to the educational purpose.

A student's prerogative and his preferences and priorities will make a particular destination country more attractive to him.

Here are some important questions a student should know and be prepared for

  • What is the average temperature of the country; how does it vary during different seasons?
  • Is the country prone to natural calamities like storms, earthquakes, floods so on?
  • What are the environmental challenges people staying there face?
  • Does the government provide enough security and provisions to protect the people from any environmental instability?

Illustration: Dominic Xavier

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2. Consider population, culture, history and society

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The demography of the destination country is an important indication of the country's character and society.

The knowledge of demographic distribution in the particular country may help a student decide whether he would like to stay in a large city, suburb or countryside depending on the degree to which he would like to immerse himself in the cultural events and the local life.

The cultural groupings, communities, religious beliefs, festivals, trends and rituals followed in the destination country influences the type of culture.

A particular country may have an open culture which may be very different from the student's home country and it may affect him or not depending on his expectation of the culture.

A student should know about the generally acceptable public behaviour and the language of communication used in the destination country.

S/he should also be well aware about the taboos or cultural differences in the country. A general awareness about the history will help the student understand the country's evolution, policies and culture better.

A particular student may want to explore a country's culture, arts, history and religious teachings whereas another student might prefer lesser cultural differences between his home and destination country.

Thus the study of population, culture, history and society may help the student to choose a destination country. Following are some questions you need to ask:

  • What is the demographic distribution; is the economic growth sufficient in comparison to the population growth?
  • What are different religious, cultural groups that exist in the country?
  • What are the taboos and social offences?
  • What are the historical events that have influenced the culture and socio-political character of the country?

Illustration: Dominic Xavier

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3. Economy, government policies and jurisdiction also matters

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The destination country's government and its policies do affect the economic stability which further affects both the educational institutions and the students also.

A stable economy holds a promise of bright future not only for students but also industries that foster job markets and further create project assignments, jobs, research opportunities and in turn funding/aid possibilities for the students.

The student should be aware of the basic jurisdiction and legal laws for driving, renting an apartment or job permits and taxation laws that are applicable to him as he will have to abide by the laws of the destination country during his stay.

S/he should take special care if the laws are more stringent as it may lead to harsher punishments in case the law is broken.

Usually the central/national government is responsible for immigration/visas related policies which the student will need to be aware of and deal with accordingly.

All these things collectively should be considered before a country is selected as an education destination. What are the different options for money transfer and money handling? Following could be some queries that could drive the decision:

  • Is the economy stable enough to offer jobs/internships?
  • The government structure, its stability and after-effects on the economy?
  • What is the exchange rate? How is money exchanged in the country --cash, cheque or traveler's cheque?

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

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4. Research educational structure and grading system

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Having adequate knowledge about the destination country's education structure as compared to the home country is very essential.

Students should know the different qualifications, degrees and its convertibility with their home country degrees.

They should also know about the different programmes offered by the institutes in the country, their cost, duration and most importantly the quality of the outcome from these courses.

Research through websites, with the help of educational counsellors or institute brochures, about the course structure, cost and probability of internships at the preferred institutes. The decision should be based on the following queries:

  • What is the education structure? Where does the student fit in with his current qualifications?
  • What are the courses relevant to it, cost and quality?
  • Is the degree recognised internationally and what are the recruitment opportunities?

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

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5. Be aware of the immigration and visa policies

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This is the most important criterion for any student.

A student counsellor may help in this case or you may gather information from the country's immigration website, through consulates or officials from the government.

It is very important to know the type of student visas and the different options available.

S/he should be well aware of the documents to be submitted, application deadlines and procedure time line to secure a visa.

Knowledge about student visa with work permit is extremely essential in case the student is planning to work along with pursuing education. Following are some very important points to be taken care of

  • What are the different types of student visas available -- its validity and whether they allow the student to work?
  • What is the documentation required? Details of application procedure and duration of visa are also important
  • What are the immigration laws pertaining to the student?
  • What are the difficulties you may confront while applying for the visa?

Illustration: Uttam Ghosh

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