COME september, students and their parents start crowding airport terminals, bidding farewell to each other. As parents wave goodbye, they wonder what awaits their children in an unknown land. Will they cope well? When will they see them again? But these thoughts are accompanied by a sigh of relief as applying and getting admission to a foreign university is a long drawn affair.
The first leg of the journey starts 12 to 16 months before. Trips are made to university for transcripts, recommendation letters, to the bank for education loan, to coaching institutes, while parents arrange for funds by either breaking their fixed deposits, selling land or mortgaging property.
Since the colonial days we have looked to the western world for enlightenment. But now when there are more than 370 universities in the country, students still continue to go abroad. There are reasons for this.
Why study abroad?
One, high quality institutions are fewer in number. Hence, many students fail to enter institutes of their choice, or miss out on getting admission to the course of their choice, as competition is intense and seats are limited. Two, of late, a large number of private Indian institutes have started charging international fees. For the same fee (or a bit more), a student can study in a good foreign university. Last of course, is the opportunity to settle abroad!
Beware of scams
Over the years, because of economy and migration laws, foreign education has gotten split into higher education and permanent residency (PR) markets. The USA and the UK are primary markets for higher education Australia, New Zealand and Canada are the popular immigration markets. Due to a shortage of skilled manpower in these countries, it's easier for Asians to join their workforce.
But beware this has lead to a scam, where local PR agents (for huge sums of money) get Indian students enrolled in third-rate vocational institutes abroad. The issue was recently brought to light by the racial attacks on Indian students in Australia. And let's face it, after taking staggering study loans, you do think of working in that country, earning in that currency so that you can pay back the loan. But just keep in mind that not all foreign universities are good.
Go through university ranking on US News, Times Higher Education or The Guardian. This will give you an idea of the better ones. And always find out about the university's credentials from its web site or the educational counsellor. We have provided a list of accrediting agencies for your reference. Sourcing information from reliable sources is crucial, as both money and life can be at stake.
Exams, scholarships 'n' more
As for competitive exams for admissions, they vary from country to country. Some offer admissions on the strength of your academic record, others ask for GRE, GMAT, TOEFL or IELTS or proficiency in a foreign language. University web sites furnish all eligibility criteria and required tests. So look it up.
In case, you don't have a scholarship, inquire about full or partial scholarship opportunities from the university that has offered you admission. Some have a quota of awards for international students.
And while you are at it, ask the university for e-mail contacts of some Indian students. They can advise you on the cost of living, especially on accommodation. There is home-stay this means living with a family university accommodation, which is safe and convenient but expensive and last, student flat, where three to four students rent a flat. This is the cheapest option as grocery bills to electric bills, all gets shared.
In case, you wish to decide on the accommodation after you arrive at the university then book yourself in a youth hostel or a YMCA close to the university area. Keeping in mind what students seek while applying to foreign universities, we bring you the best each country has to offer. The selection is based on their popularity with Indian students. To be an alumnus of the world's best institution is a dream for any student.
To help you short-list, we present a country-wise university listing:
Top Institutions, Subject-wise
Accreditation agencies at a glance