Homing in on an international degree
The near impossible competition for admission to prestigious schools forces many students to look overseas. And barring the lucky few who manage full scholarships, most of them have to pay through their noses to study abroad. Some pointers to choose the best institution and avoid astronomical fees.
Understand why do you want to go abroad.To get a job? To expand your business? Or like an ambitious father once said: "An MBA from UK increases my son's value threefold in the marriage market!" Selection of country and course should be your main objective.
University recognition and reputation
Ignore non-accredited institutions. Obtain a comprehensive list of alumni. Look for the university's research rankings, like RAE for Britain. The higher the ranking, higher the industry interest and placement prospects. For Tier-II institutions, consider rankings over a few years for a better perspective.
Chances of selection
Realistically assess your chances before you short-list any institute. The institute website will give you a fair idea of the scores the institute demands. There is an element of chance and admissions are not 100% guaranteed. So spread your net wide.
Parvathi, who worked in one such agency, confesses: "We are here primarily to earn business for our principals." So, while using them as supplements, rely upon your own research. Prefer government-sponsored agencies to private ones and keep agents who represent a university as the last choice. But should you be desperate, they are the best.
Counselling and guidance
You will invariably go through this. Counselling is a time consuming affair. Choose someone who charges more, but assures you attention. Never go through assembly-line application factories. Admission Directors can smell them out from a mile.
Finances/ Part-time jobs
Education abroad is expensive. A masters programme in the UK will cost at least 1.5 million rupees if no more. Look for the maximum funding possible and identify all sources of finance. Remember loan scholarships are a double-edged sword and unless they fund you substantially, avoid them. Look for part time jobs in the university. If it has a large under-graduate section, jobs as tutors will be aplenty. If located in a thriving town, again jobs will be easier to find.
Fellowships and university bursaries
This is the best option. There are very few who are awarded Dorothy Hodgkins Fellows or Rhodes Scholars. Identify not-so-popular fellowships. Tie up two or three resources. If you can identify two partial fellowships, the University normally funds the rest through a bursary. So, diligent research is most important and it always helps if the institute you applied for has good funding schemes. A country like Germany, which normally charges no fees, is better than the UK where fees are high.
Visa/ Work permit
Rules vary across countries and programmes. Identify one with a post-education work permit. Remember you might take almost a year to settle down on a job. And if you have taken a loan to fund your education, itÂ's imperative that you work abroad.