Starved for opportunities

Why do our students prefer to pursue higher studies abroad?

Foreign countries have always fascinated people. Some people want to go on trips, while others desire to settle down, and some go there to pursue higher education in foreign countries. While at one time, only students from the upper class had the choice to study abroad, at present, students from middle class backgrounds also dream, and are even financially capable, of studying abroad. 

That is the reason why, day by day, the number of Bangladeshi students is increasing, whether it's in the US, the UK, Canada, or Europe. Bangladesh is a developing country and is trying its best to develop in every sector. Due to Covid-19, the educational minister announced the shutting down of educational institutions -- not only because it is an infectious disease, but also because they care about the students. Ultimately, these students will one day lead and represent the country. 

For a developing nation like Bangladesh, it was hard to arrange online classes, but private universities in our country took the initiative. Just like the developed countries' institutions, our private universities also successfully continued to hold online classes in the face of this pandemic. Public universities are also now doing the same.  

There are several reasons for students to go abroad and study. After all, it is not easy for someone to live without a family in a foreign country, especially when you are just going there for the sake of higher studies. Unfortunately, most students cannot find their desired subject at a university to study in our country, which causes them to be anxious about their career choice. They feel clueless and empty inside. 

Here, we cannot find any subjects, and if you look at any university abroad, you will be confused about which subject to choose, which means they offer various subjects. As a result, there are no constraints on selecting a career path. You can be what you want to be.

While universities like BRAC and North South publish and invest a fair amount in research, if we started to compare it with other countries, we would see that we are still lagging far behind. In addition, educational institutions don't provide funding for students to publish their research papers, and it’s difficult to find a publisher as well. Whereas in foreign countries, students are able to manage funding for publishing their papers. 

Besides, many universities abroad provide 100% scholarships based on their research, CGPA, and extracurricular merit. Interestingly, some students also leave their undergraduate studies incomplete here and then continue it through transferring credit, and some even like to start from the beginning if they get a chance to study abroad. It’s not only because they are getting chances in overseas institutions. It’s about them getting a chance to learn a new curriculum that will help them in the future. 

As we all know, technology is causing the world to move faster. Technology is present in each and every aspect of our lives, from personal to professional. When it comes to in-person classes, we choose to teach students using the traditional techniques in our country, whereas foreign academic institutions set up powerful projectors, laptops, gadgets, and everything else in the classroom to assist students to learn new things and be more digitally advanced. 

For example, while global demand for digital marketing is growing, we continue to teach traditional marketing to our students in the classroom. For this reason, when students reach the corporate sector, they suffer problems owing to a lack of expertise, whereas international students do not face this problem because they have adequate knowledge.

On the other hand, part-time jobs are also available to assist students in covering their living expenses abroad, and most importantly, foreign cultures do not denigrate or discourage students from working in any position. This actually helps them be self reliant.

Although the passing rate is getting higher day by day in our country, which is definitely a good thing, some still can't afford to get a job due to the high competition and lack of work experience. In overseas countries, people prefer talent over experience, but in our country, the scenario is different. Due to the high competition, recent graduates have started to believe that obtaining a foreign degree, and also working there in a part-time position, would somehow help them be recruited by their desired organization in our country, which is to some extent true. For instance, to be a faculty member at most reputed universities in Bangladesh, it's important to hold a Master's degree from abroad. 

It is unfortunate that, even after so many years, the QS ranking still shows how far behind our higher educational institutions are, as not even a single university in our country can get a position in the top 500. This is another reason why we, as a country, prefer employees who attend foreign universities.

For all the reasons stated above, students prefer to go abroad to pursue higher studies as they think this is an opportunity for them to learn something new and up-to-date. They get a feeling of shining brighter in life and the option of having a successful career only if they can get a degree from a foreign country.

Nafia Haque is a freelance contributor.