Career cues Education



As policies, economies and diplomatic relations change throughout the world, we bring a list of countries that a student can choose from...

A lot has changed in the past year as old destinations became more — or less — attractive to students. Here is a round-up of the top destinations for undergraduate studies in 2020:

United States of America

The U.S. tops the list led mainly by job prospects, even in times of economic slowdown. The U.S. boasts no less than 47,500 startups, 88 of the 100 fastest growing companies according to Fortune magazine, and 25% of the Fortune Global 500 is based in the U.S. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) students get a shot at three years of work visas under the Optional Practical Training (OPT) scheme.

Other factors to root for the U.S. are university rankings, and yes, even affordability. More than half the top universities in any subject are based in the U.S. And many universities offer scholarships to international students, especially if you open yourself beyond the top ranks.


Canada follows the U.S. only partly because it is next door to the U.S. — physically, psychologically and even legally — making it easier to visit, work and live in the U.S. Another compelling reason is friendly visa and Permanent Residency (PR) policies for those who are looking to emigrate. Regular undergraduate students can expect three-year work visas and can apply for PR after two years of working. After three years of PR, one can apply for citizenship.

All this should not eclipse the fact that Canada is consistently ranked among the top five countries to live in, according to the Best Countries report led by US News, every year.

Affordability of undergraduate education is also high, with average annual fees for top universities at half of that for top universities in the U.S. Few scholarships are available, though, and given the low return on investment (ROI) of undergraduate education, this can certainly burn a hole in your pocket.

A caveat before you rush to the Canadian embassy, though — given the economic slowdown, less than 2% projected growth rates 2020 onwards, getting a job is not easy especially for non-STEM graduates.

The United Kingdom

The U.K., surprisingly, comes in at the third place. This is led mainly by the two-year post-study work visa announced in September. This makes the portals of the U.K.’s many top-ranking, Nobel Laureate-spewing universities infinitely more attractive for the average Indian who is seeking international experience — and earning — before returning home.

Affordability is another positive factor, given the lower-than-US annual fees and three-year graduate degrees. Job availability remains a challenge, though, with growth rates hovering below 1.5%.


It comes in at fourth place, despite many positive factors including healthy economic growth at above 3%, as well as friendly visa policies. PR is becoming tougher every day, given the high proportion of Indians applying for it; but a Singapore passport remains a powerful possession. Singapore’s leading Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) feature among the top 20 universities in almost every ranking, for every subject.

Where Singapore loses out, though, is in the tough competition for the limited international intake, every year. If you think Delhi University (DU) cut-offs are crazy, you will find Singapore’s leading universities positively loony. The quality of education and ranking drop fast in lower ranked universities, making the whole situation rather dicey, even for the most nerdy geniuses.


Hong Kong fails to make this list since its current civil crisis overshadows its many advantages in job prospects, affordability, cultural diversity, PR possibilities and university rankings. In Australia and Europe, slow growth rates and lower international recognition for their universities eclipse their advantages such as excellent quality of life. Quite frankly, India may be a better bet.

The writer is the author of The Ultimate Guide to 21st Century Careers. She leads Inomi Learning, a Gurgaon based career and college guidance firm.

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Printable version | Jan 19, 2020 4:11:16 AM |

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