Before you make that all-important decision of studying in a foreign land, it helps to have a clear perspective about your way forward
Last week, we discussed different approaches to assessing the quality of a foreign university. Here are more factors to be considered seriously before choosing a country, university/ institution and programme:
Aptitude of the student, level of education desired (undergraduate/ graduate/ Ph.D. / post-doctoral research), subject for study — its professional prospects, location of the institution — country, cultural background, medium of instruction, reputation of the university/ institution/ department, infrastructure in the university / institution, fees, duration of the programme, financial capacity of the family, possibilities for securing scholarships or other forms of assistance, adaptability of the student to strange environments and cultural shock, physical health and self-confidence of the student, barriers to foreign education
There are four Fs that may challenge your pursuit of studying abroad: Family, Faculty, Finances, Fear.
If your parents are reluctant to send you abroad, for concerns based on lack of the right information, you could get the help of a competent advisor or a person who is enjoying the benefit of successful studies abroad.
Your professors may dissuade you from going abroad, citing the futility of such an endeavour when facilities are available in India at a much cheaper rate. You may present an objective analysis of the pros and cons of study abroad vis-a-vis study in India, and highlight the merits of the former.
The barrier posed by paucity of finances is often real, unless you can identify the right sources for scholarships, work-study, or educational loans.
This is a barrier you can overcome with some effort. Every man has a fear of the unknown and the unfamiliar. The thought of life in a foreign country may evoke a sense of fear in your mind. This can be dispelled by different methods. You can discuss life in the country of destination with those who have studied there or at least lived there for a long time. You can gather data about the country from the Internet, or travelogues, or books written by native authors.
A better understanding of the country will make you gradually get familiar with the culture and lifestyle there. Some may fear racial prejudices that may often be unfounded. The basic solution lies in knowing more and more about the country of your destination, well before your take-off.
The cost of education is an important consideration, while choosing a destination. In many cases, the parents will not be able to foot the bill for foreign studies. Students will have to find other sources of funding in the form of scholarship grants, work-study, or educational loans.
The fees would differ substantially among the various universities. Usually the fees in the “State” (or public) universities in the U.S. would be less than that in other universities. Look at names such as California State University, Portland State University, and Florida State University.
State universities usually have enrolments of thousands of students. It would therefore be easier for international students to find on-campus jobs or teaching assistantship jobs, or research assistantships in government-funded projects. Teaching and research assistant students may get full tuition fee waiver.
Private universities, on the other hand, are supported by tuition fees from students, investment income, research contracts, and private donations. Tuition fees are naturally higher in private universities, compared to those in the State universities.
The prospects for research assistantships in government-funded projects are limited in private universities.
Some universities in countries such as Denmark, Finland, Germany, Norway and Sweden do not charge any tuition fee. But such universities are limited in number.
The cost of higher education is high in the U.S., U.K., and Australia. The U.S. tops the list. In Canada, France, Italy, and Japan, the rates are lower.
There are private universities in the U.S. that charge $30,000 or more. If the higher fees also reflect academic excellence and placement with higher remuneration, you would be able to plunge into a brighter career and pay back your educational loans in a shorter time.
Tuition fee is not the only element to be kept in mind. Living cost varies from country to country.
The cost of accommodation, food, travel, and medical treatment are vital components of the overall cost of overseas education.
These should be assessed while computing your total expenses, along with the prospects of securing scholarships.