These countries are small and the number of universities they have is few, compared to the U.S. and the U.K., but a good number of students are looking for global exposure from universities in Canada, New Zealand and Singapore.

The large number of universities and the excellent infrastructure in terms of faculty and research have been reasons why the United States continues to be the land of hope and dreams for international students. This is followed by the United Kingdom and Australia, though not necessarily in the same order.

But, increasingly there is change seen in the air. A good number of Indian students are looking at Canada, New Zealand, Singapore, France and Russia for a global exposure. Mainly because of the niche areas, some of these universities enjoy global reputation, and offer cheaper options in terms of tuition fee or cost of living and relaxed rules for foreign students.

Closer home

Singapore is closest and so far the safest destination from home, offering a high, yet affordable quality of life. The cost of living in Singapore is significantly less than in many developed countries. “An international student in Singapore spends on average about 750 to 2,000 Singapore dollars a month on living expenses depending on the individual's lifestyle and needs,” says Kiran Bhandari, Area Director (Southern India), Sri Lanka & Maldives, Singapore Tourism Board. Besides engineering and management, polytechnic courses are equally popular. According to educational consultants, while getting the visa is quite a simple process in Singapore, in paper it does not allow one to work part-time.

Both Canada and New Zealand are immigration hubs but have other advantages for those seeking a career. Name the course and New Zealand is sure to offer it, though graduate diploma or postgraduate diploma programmes are famous. “New Zealand does not offer a fresher MBA programme, otherwise it has the lowest rate of unemployment and the government offers a grace period of about one year for international students to look for a job,” says Kavita Bhat, Branch Incharge, Edwise Overseas Education Consultants. And if one has decided to pursue one's Ph.D, then one is treated as a domestic student. “The biggest advantage being that your fee structure is one fifth of what an international student pays.”

Canada is also popular for its diploma programmes. Its co-op programmes are best suited for those wanting to enter the industry. “A minimum of 60 to 65 per cent at the graduate level with minimal backlog is a must to get into a good university,” says Samir Gupta, Head (Southern India), Planet Education.

If you have a flair for foreign languages, non-English speaking countries such as Russia, Germany, France, Sweden and Denmark should beckon you.