Planning to Study Abroad? - Know the Top Destinations
Updated on Jan 15, 2014 - 11:59 a.m. IST by Sudipta Mishra
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With the number of international students increasing year by year, the Study Abroad sector is one of the leading sources of economy for countries across the globe. It has been observed that despite the soaring university fees, the Percentage of International Students at Top Universities across the world has increased, particularly for countries like the USA which is the leading Study Abroad Destination. The contribution by international students to its economy has been as high as $24.7 billion. What drives the Study Abroad sector is the superior quality of education, high career prospects attached and the prestige factor associated with the Top Study Abroad Destinations.

Looking at the other side of the coin, Asian countries remain the Top Origin of International Students. Whereas until recently, India was the Top Sender of International Students, currently China leads the list. India is a strong second in the list of Top Source Countries for International Students. A growing number of high school graduates whose families can support foreign education and who look for quality education which is missing in their home-country are the major reasons behind this trend.


We present you an account of the Top 6 Study Abroad Destinations for international students and some important facts you ought to know about them.



With 6 out of the top 10 universities hailing from the USA, it is no surprise then that it tops the list of the  Most Popular Study Abroad Destination contenders. The variety and number of universities and courses available are the contributing factors. Some of the most popular courses in the USA universities are business and management, engineering, computer science and mathematics. The states which are more popular with international students are New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and the Bay Area and Los Angeles.

One fact which might also be leveraging USA’s position as a Top Study Abroad Destination is that its universities do not generally differentiate between domestic and international students in terms of fees. Also international students have access to a large number of grants, funds, scholarships, bursaries and discounts.


International students in the USA for a full-time academic programme need to apply for F-1 non-immigrant visa. For this candidates require to schedule an interview at the local US embassy. The decision of the consular officer is on the basis of whether you can financially support yourself, prove that you want to return home after graduating and submit your academic results to date. You must have an approved I-20 issued by the school or sponsoring organization in the United States. You may not apply for your visa more than 120 days before the programme start date on your Form I-20. You cannot actually enter the country until 30 days before the beginning of your course, unless you have a visitor visa. This last stipulation also applies to those who would normally not require a visa for short stays in the USA.



The next Most Popular Study Abroad Location is the UK. Home to a number of prestigious universities like Oxford, Cambridge and University College London, to name a few, it is no wonder then that UK universities are so sought after.

In order to Study in the UK as an adult student, you will need to acquire a Tier 4 visa. If your confirmation letter is still awaited from a university, then you will need a prospective student visa, and if the duration of your stay will be less than six months, then you should apply for a Student Visitor visa. UK student visa applications are processed within 15 working days of the completed application being lodged.

As per the rules which came into effect in 2011, only overseas students sponsored by a higher education institution on a course of more than one year, or foreign students who are government sponsored for a course no longer than six months will be allowed to bring their children or partners to the UK.



Apart from being the third Most Popular Study Destination, Australia also comes third after only the USA and UK for having the most number of universities in the top 100 list of the QS world university rankings. Apart from the quality of education, a good lifestyle has made Australia popular in spite of it being one of the costliest options. Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide are some of the top location choices in Australia for international students.

Recognizing the dependency of its higher education sector on international students, the Australian government has relaxed its student visa requirements in the recent past.

For international students intending for a bachelor or associate degree, a graduate certificate or graduate diploma, a higher education diploma or advanced diploma, or master’s coursework at an Australian University, the visa required is Higher Education Sector Visa (subclass 573). For a master’s degree by research or a doctoral programme, Postgraduate Research Sector Visa (subclass 574) is required.



Friendly visa policies and several initiatives taken by the Canadian Government have made Canada one of the Most Desirable Study Abroad Destinations. Apart from this, Canada boasts of a number of high quality educational institutions and universities. The processing time of a student visa for Canada varies from two to three weeks depending on the application and place of applying. International students are permitted to work while studying. While students wanting to work on-campus don’t need a work permit, those who are willing for an off-campus job, require a work permit.



The location of Germany in Europe and its important participation in the world economy has made Germany an emerging Top Study Abroad Destination. The comparatively lower cost of studying at a German university is an added feature.

International students need to apply for the student visa in person at least 3 months prior to their departure. The visa processing may take 6 - 12 weeks as all the applications have to be referred to the local German authorities. Simultaneous applications for short term visas and long term visas cannot be entertained. It is important to note that short term visas cannot be converted into residence permits after arrival in Germany. The documents required for application of student visa for Germany are:

  • Application form

  • Passport

  • 2 photographs

  • Demand draft for visa fees

  • Letter of Admission from the corresponding German university

  • Mark-sheets and certificates

  • Proof of English Language proficiency

  • Proof of German Language proficiency, if applicable

  • Proof of financial means

  • Declaration of authenticity of documents submitted



Being closer to home, comparatively affordable and renowned for universities like NUS and Nanyang has made Singapore quite popular among Indian students.

An International student in a Singapore university is required to apply for a Student's Pass if he/she has been accepted by an educational institution to pursue full-time studies in Singapore, unless he/she has a:

  • Dependant's Pass  and is studying in a Government/ Government-Aided/ Independent school/ Foreign System School/ Kindergarten registered with MOE or Childcare centre licensed by MSF; or

  • Immigration Exemption Order holder; or

  • Visitor who has been granted a short term Visit Pass at the Singapore Checkpoint and wish to attend a short course that can be completed within the validity of the initial Visit Pass granted to him/her at the Singapore Checkpoint or 30 days, whichever is shorter. The course must:

    • Be a complete module and stand-alone module of its own. Courses with multiple programme modules are excluded from this Student's Pass exemption scheme; and
    • Not involve hands-on practical occupational training and/or industrial attachment which have interaction with walk-in customers or be conducted at premises that are also places of business.

Depending on the type of educational institution that an international student is intending to study at, the requirements and procedures for applying for a Student's Pass will differ.

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