Beware: Not all universities are good
Starting September students and their parents begin to crowd airport terminals. As parents wave goodbye, they wonder what awaits their children in an unknown land, whether they would cope well and when they would see them again.
But it’s also a sigh of relief as applying and getting admission in a foreign university is a long drawn out 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 FD, 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 India, students still continue to go abroad. There are reasons for this. First, high-quality institutions are fewer in number in the country. Hence, many students fail to enter institutes of their choice, or miss getting the course of their choice as competition is intense and seats are few. Then, of late, a large number of private Indian institutes have started charging international fees. In the same fee, or with a bit more, a student can study in a good foreign university. And the last, of course, is the opportunity to settle abroad.
Over the years, because of economy and migration laws, foreign education has got 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. As there’s shortage of skilled manpower in these countries, it’s easier for Asians to join their workforce.
This has led to a PR racket where local agents, for huge sums, 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 website 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.
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 Universities’ websites furnish all eligibility criteria and required tests. So follow those sites.
In case, you aren’t a scholarship holder, 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’s home-stay, which is 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 get 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 offers. The selection is based on their popularity with Indian students.