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A Quick, Handy Checklist Of Info If You Want To Study Overseas

Most applications for study overseas have to be made around this time. There are a million questions in students' minds. A handy checklist.

With the borders reopening across the globe, the lucrative Western world beckons for study overseas. The options are endless for students and families in India, but hanging above this jump is the question on everyone’s mind, “where do we begin?”

Going to study overseas, whether you’re the parent or the student itself is a huge step and can cause anxiety because the first thing that looms above are the dollar signs. There is a minimum 50 times margin that families need to factor in for forex and usually that ends up being one or both parents’ retirement gratuity.

The questions, like the options are endless too. Do you just pick a country and go from there, or do you go where your families are, or do you go with the big named universities, do you go with the ease of visa options, or do you pick the subjects based on the career you want, or is it about which job will give you job security or is it all the above?

So, to help ease some of this stress, we’ve researched a few obvious countries where students might want to study overseas, as well as some non-conventional ones like South Africa, Netherlands etc.

We also decided that it’s not enough just to discuss universities, fees etc but also the culture and other factors that can be jarring to Indians, no matter how open or untraditional the families may be.

How to choose the country & universities you want to apply to for study overseas

Deciding to study abroad is a huge step.

It is important for students and parents alike to choose the course that aligns with your career aspirations. Gone are the days where a doctor, engineer or lawyer was considered as the gold standard for education.

When you are choosing a country to study overseas, it is important to make that decision as a family because of the many factors that need to be taken into consideration.

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It is important to understand that not all universities are created equal. Some universities specialise in technology, some in medicine, some in fine arts etc.

As a student, you need to be very clear what your career aspirations and educational goals are before you narrow down on a country or university.

It is very important to find the right location and course because you will be spending a whole semester or a year or longer at that location and course.

Some of the key things you would need to consider are:

  • Finances and Foreign exchange, for example the cost to study in the UK is higher than in other countries
  • Family support- do you have close family support in the location you want to study at
  • Course and job opportunities- does the university you want to study at have the right level of courses and do they have sufficient job opportunities for that field?

Here are some key factors to consider. Ask yourself these 9 questions to help you decide.

Struggling to find the right country? Here’s help!

Deciding on the course you want to study overseas

Deciding on a course to study overseas can prove just as tricky as the location itself. The course must align to your interests and career aspirations.

There are a range of opportunities for international students. Anyone who wants to study in a country where they are not normally a legal resident of, is considered an international student.

It can be undergraduate study, a Masters, or a PhD. Certificate courses can be apprenticeships, teacher training etc. Teacher training can focus on primary aged students or secondary ages.

Find a Course by IDP also provides options based on the subject that appeals to you.

United Kingdom

There are a variety of courses that a student can choose from. There are tertiary courses or Bachelor degrees and above as well as certificate courses.

Remember that the United Kingdom comprises England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and each country has different qualifications and requirement.

You can also compare the qualifications.

United States

There are some commonly chosen courses by international students who choose to study in the United States.

The U.S. Embassy in India provides comprehensive information. The United States probably has the greatest range of universities available as they have 50 states and each state have fantastic universities to choose from.

Europe

Studying in Europe has become very attractive to many international students due to the vast options and the scope to explore more countries.

Europe offers a variety of options for international students.

Europass also offers course options and advice.

South Africa

Studying in South Africa also has exciting prospects due to the many university options available.

South Africa offers tremendous diversity for international students which is very attractive along with their academic programs. South Africa is also among the most affordable places for international students.

The prospects of landing a job after your education is also comparably higher than other countries.

Australia

Recent government policy changes have made Australia more appealing to study for international students. Many of Australian universities are ranked in the top 100 universities to study.

The Australian Government has also provided a list of universities to study at.

New Zealand

New Zealand, although a small country has world class universities available. It is important you understand the NZ education system as it can be slightly confusing for international students.

Understanding the list of universities, the courses they offer, as each university offers specialist courses and the entry requirements can be very useful in choosing the right place.

Visas & Eligibility

All countries require that you have the right visa to enter that country. It is very important that you apply for the right visa based on the course that you want to study, but it is also equally important to understand the conditions on your visa.

For example, some countries might offer you the ability to work part-time depending on the course you are studying, some other countries might not.

Check the immigration websites of those countries you are applying for carefully when you are applying for a visa.

United Kingdom

There are 2 major types of visas available.

United States

The US Department of State also provides a list of visas and the requirements.

Europe

Student Schengen Visa is the entry visa to the Schengen area of 26 European countries.

The Schengen visa allows you to stay for 3 months, however if your course is longer than that, then you must apply for the long stay visa in the respective country in Europe that you wish to study.

South Africa

The Department of Home Affairs in South Africa has clear information regarding the visas and requirements.

Australia

The immigration department in Australia has clearly detailed information for international students.

You can also use the visa finder to help you decide on the right visa for your circumstance.

New Zealand

Exploring the Immigration NZ website will help you decide the best visa options available.

Most students can work part time as part of their visa conditions, but it is important to know what those conditionsare specifically to your situation and visa.

Key dates for applying to study overseas

It is important to know that most countries differ in their annual intakes, and for this, research of the university websites should be done well in advance.

For example, the US provides 3 intakes per year, unlike Indian universities which only provide one intake each year.

Australia has 3 intakes as well, based on a semester model.

New Zealand has 2 major intakes per year.

Individual dates, including exam dates will be shared by the universities.

Accommodation and Travel

Most universities have boarding available in the university itself, or in the vicinity. Checking with the universities during the application is helpful to get an understanding of availability. Please bear in mind that the accommodations can be booked out many months in advance, but there are also places for rent very close to universities.

Getting an understanding of the location of your university to local amenities is useful.

Knowing how you will get to and from your place of study to your place of stay is essential, especially to factor in rush hour traffic, or evening study times. For example, if you are staying close to the city or Central Business District (CBD) then owning a car is not of great benefit due to parking constraints even in your accommodation.

If your university is further out and you are staying in a rental in the suburbs, then a car is essential, especially if you have gone overseas with your family.

Most universities have information for students regarding public transport, costs, local entertainment etc which can be useful for new students.

Fees and living expenses

Tuition in each country is usually one of the major factors many of the international students.

Usually most countries allow students to work a certain number of hours to support themselves. This is usually decided by the immigration department and the conditions will be on your visa.

Usually students work in the local supermarket as it provides a range of flexible hours most suited for students.

Talk to your university student advisory team to understand the various options available to you.

Having an awareness of the tuition fee can help you decide to explore the courses and the country. Tuition fees are not just the annual fees, but it also includes books, administration fees, textbooks, stationery etc.

Apart from this, it is also important to have an awareness of the cost of transport. Living and accommodation costs, food, and spending money.

Some countries also require you to open a bank account with them through their immigration processes, deposit a fixed amount for living costs which is then dispersed to your account monthly.

This section provides a brief overview of the fees and other financial requirements, it is important to check the exact and full costs with the universities themselves when you are applying.

United Kingdom

There is a comprehensive list of fees and other money you may require if you are travelling with your family to study overseas.

United States

IDP has provided helpful insight into the fees for the US.

Europe

The fees vary based on the universities and the countries within Europe, however this is the basic guide.

South Africa

The fee structure depends on the universities that you are choosing to apply at.

Australia

The fees to study in Australia depends on the universities, the course you want to study and the location.

New Zealand

Cost of living and fees again, depend on the university and course you are applying to. It is important to note, however that international PhD students pay the same fees as NZ students, which is about $7000 plus other costs.

Scholarships

Scholarships are offered to international students to help drive down the costs. They can be fantastic opportunities for students and most scholarships have a cut off date in the previous year for the next year application.

We have listed some of the key scholarships available in each major location to help with that decision.

United Kingdom

There are scholarships available for international students in the UK.

United States

There are a range of scholarships available via the US Embassy. There are also other scholarships available to bring down your tuition cost.

Europe

Due to the many university options available, there are several scholarship options available to international students.

South Africa

There are some scholarships available for international students.

Australia

Scholarships in Australia can be up to $15,000. The scholarship tool can help you see what scholarships you might be eligible for.

New Zealand

Scholarships in NZ can vary for international students. Using the scholarship finder might help you find if you are eligible and which scholarship you might be suited for.

Healthcare costs

It is extremely important as an international student to ensure that you are covered for unexpected medical events while you are in a new country. Most countries do not offer free medical care to temporary visa holders, but you will be able to pay a premium towards getting insurance to cover those expenses.

The same would apply if you are travelling with your partner or children as they would also need their own medical cover.

Insurance is to be taken out in the country where you have chosen to study. Usually, the university will inform you what insurance options are available and the level of cover you would need as approved by the immigration department.

United Kingdom

The NHS is the public healthcare system where most treatment is free for citizens of the UK, however paying the surcharge means that you can also access the healthcare system.

There is also a healthcare surcharge that you must pay depending on how long you plan on staying in the UK.

Once you have all the required documents, you can apply via the UK Government website.

United States

Unfortunately, international students cannot access any form of public health care, including Medicaid. Taking out insurance before you go there is your best option against unforeseen circumstances.

Europe

Each country in Europe has its own healthcare system and it is important to familiarise yourselves with it.

South Africa

Medical care is covered through insurance in South Africa for international students.

Australia

As an international student in Australia, you are required to have OSHC or Overseas Student Health Cover. This is to be for the entire duration of your study.

New Zealand

All international students must have medical insurance for the duration of their course.

ACC (Accident Compensation Commission) is a scheme which covers everyone in NZ if they are injured due to an accident. Find out more about what ACC covers and how ACC can support you if you are not a resident.

Medical requirements

Tuberculosis (TB) test results, and India is always considered a high TB risk country. Most countries require travellers to either do a full medical to rule out diseases like TB etc.

The US has strict medical requirements that must be done at the embassy.

For the UK, any student studying for more than 6 months, must do the TB and other tests.

This is similar if you are applying to study in New Zealand or Australia.

Please check the requirements in the visas that you are applying for with the respective country’s immigration website.

English knowledge crucial for study overseas

It is also important to prove your English knowledge. Usually this is done via the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) tests at IDP  as since 2021, the British Council no longer deliver IELTS tests in India.

Here is more information on the IELTS test.

Remember to do the Academic Version of the IELTS test and not the general one.

There is also the option to do TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language). This again is based on which country you are applying to and the immigration requirements. Usually the University websites and the visa application form will mention what is required.

Here are some differences of TOEFL vs IELTS.

There may be some questions on if you require to do IELTS or TOEFL if you have studied in a Cambridge or IGCSE school. This again depends hugely on the country you are applying to and the immigration requirements.

Other aspects not usually covered by information online

If you identify as a woman student who wants to study overseas

There are also some key points that might be more specific to those of you who identify as female.

It is important to note that most countries are fairly safe for women and this is usually a key factor to consider for those of you who might be travelling alone, or for parents who are sending their daughters overseas.

There are obviously pockets of violence against women, but it is generally safe to travel as a woman overseas.

Again, exercising common sense is crucial just like you would in any scenario because it is important to note that no one else can keep you safe so you must exercise caution in all scenarios.

If for some reason you require contraception or the ‘morning after pill’, most pharmacies have the medication you require. They will also provide medical advice as well as the right options for your situation and medical needs. There is no bias against women when it comes to contraceptives. Condoms are also available in most supermarkets.

With the controversial law change in the United States regarding abortion laws, it is important that you read up on the laws in the state where you will choose to study at.

There is another consideration – at times there might be a reason for you to take a break mid-study. This is usually applicable for those engaging in longer courses. This is a decision that will be made by the university where you are studying. Also ensure that if the university does approve your study break due to a compelling reason, please check with that country’s immigration policy to ensure that your visa will still be valid.

Cultural differences

Most Western countries are very liberal in their thinking, and this can be jarring for traditional Indian families and students.

Drinking, smoking and vaping is considered acceptable, regardless of gender. Some countries also have legalised the use of drugs. Prostitution is also considered legal in most countries, and it is rightfully considered a job, just like any other form of employment.

It is also important to understand the concept of no judgement or bias when you are travelling. Clothing that might be considered ‘sexually tempting’ in India has no meaning overseas. You can choose to wear what you are comfortable with.

There are strong LGBTQIA+ community support networks available at each university and within the communities as well.

The medical system also provides excellent support [SL7] for issues such as mental health, disabilities etc provided you have insurance for the duration of your study.

Speak to your university student advisory team who will have excellent knowledge of what is available in your chosen country.

Consent

This is probably a huge topic for Indian men and women alike. Coming from a country that considers marital rape as legal, while this is unacceptable in every other country, including Russia, makes Indians struggle to understand, let alone to talk about consent in relationships.

As a man entering a relationship, it is important to know that ‘no means no’ and for a woman, you have every right to decline any sexual advances, at any point. The same applies to our LGBTQIA+ community as well. Consent is important regardless of gender.

Police & Law

A lot of Indian students get into trouble with the law especially over drink driving and domestic violence.

It is important to understand that the law and police overseas are not overly corrupt agencies and if you are in trouble with the law, then it places a direct black mark on your visas.

This can result in deportation or being unable to extend your visa.

Some other FAQs

We have listed out each country’s frequently asked questions to help you make this decision to study overseas easier.

United Kingdom

United States

Europe

South Africa

Australia

New Zealand

Image source:  Jupiterimages from Photo Images Free for Canva Pro

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About the Author

Cheryl Christopher

Cheryl Christopher is a mum, a working professional and a writer by passion. She was featured in a published anthology by Scholastic India, published a book in 2019 and writes for several online writing communities. read more...

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