Rendezvous with the future

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They are your passport to an education abroad. Enter the world of education fairs.

It is about 11.30 am. The atmosphere in the hall is taut with anticipation. Students are queued up outside, trying to peep in. Someone calls out a roll number and a student walks into the hall and is shown to a desk where a counsellor is seated. An animated discussion follows… No, we are not describing a ime-table scheduling session at BITS Pilani. Welcome instead to the education fair.

Many fair organisers state that they offer one-stop solutions. The student not only gets to meet university representatives who estimate his or her application and give the green signal for application, and in rare cases a spot selection, but is also guided during application and visa interviews (in the case of going to USA).

Before the fair

D. Suganth who did his B.E. in aerospace engineering from Perumal Manimegalai Engineering College, Hosur, has been working before the fair, browsing the websites and analysing which universities would suit his budget and offer his choice of subjects (M.Sc Aerospace/MBA). Yet he feels that going through the consultant is helpful. “The Canadian universities that were here offered only UG seats, so my choice was restricted to the U.K. universities. I met four representatives — choosing universities where the fees fell within six lakh rupees. They told me about availability of part-time jobs on campus,” he says.

Going through the consultant is also helpful in raising loans. “It is not easy to get a loan from a bank unless you go through a consultant,” says Suganth.

It is wise to have a clue about what courses you wish to do and what type of university you are looking for before going to the fair.

Start early

It also pays to start early. “Students wishing to apply for scholarships must start the process a year or 15 months in advance. This is because the plans for the Commonwealth scholarships start really early,” says Nim Bahadur from the British Council, which also organises its own large fairs in the metros every year and smaller fairs in other cities.

The turnout at the fairs can vary from 600 to over 2,000. There are many details they learn about from the representatives. For example, when applying for the UK undergraduate courses, the students may not apply to more than five places at a time.

They also get to know whether the university they seek admission in has a multicultural atmosphere; whether it is urban or rural; what is the limit of scholarships they offer; how much it will cost to live there, and so on.

The UK and the U.S. are not the only countries as looking at a brochure of Edwise reveals. Edwise has been in this business for 22 years and represents universities from countries including Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Dubai and many others.

A. Logesh who had come to a fair organised by Opportunities to look for options for his cousin says, “Of all the universities that had gathered here, only one offered mobile engineering course, which is what I wanted.”

“It may cost about 18 lakh per year to study in Singapore, but once the person graduates, he or she will have a job offer on hand, so it is a good investment,” adds Logesh.

The universities represented are not the top-ranking universities, because these are already flooded with applications and do not need to scout for talent. However, many of the departmental rankings are high and the consultant offers advice on balancing this against the budget and choice of subject of the candidate.

Given the eagerness of students to study and the shortage of colleges in India, it is becoming the norm to go abroad for higher education, if you can afford it. These fairs offer a tunnel through the wilderness of information.



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