This week Rouham Manzoor answers questions from students who are looking for higher education opportunities abroad.
There are many different reasons why a student should consider studying overseas.
Shortage of seats: The number of university seats available in Bangladesh is much lower than the number of students passing secondary education.
Availability of world class facilities: While there are many great quality educational institutions in Bangladesh, a lot of times these institutions fall behind in terms of resources available to them. This makes it less likely for our researchers to do world class research.
Independence: While studying abroad, a student has to pay his own bills, go to classes on time and do their own homework, as well as part-time jobs. There are often no parents or relatives to assist them. This makes them more independent and confident - skills which are very important for becoming successful.
Exposure: In today’s global world, studying in multi-cultural environments can provide a greater outlook of the world for students making them better equipped.
What are the main things to look out for when pursuing a foreign degree or choosing a university or a country to go to?
Reputation: Usually the rankings/league tables are a good tool for measuring a university’s reputation.
Costs: Costs may widely vary from country to country. It may also depend on the quality of education and the ranking of the university. The costs to attend universities may be as low as $5,000 to $60,000 per year
UK: GBP 8,000 – GBP 17,000
USA: USD 12,000 – USD 60,000
Malaysia: USD 5,000 – USD 12,000
Canada: CAD 15,000 – CAD 30,000
Japan: USD 10,000 to USD12,000
Australia: AUD 15,000 to AUD35,000
3. Scholarships: While the above are the absolute tuition fees, some universities offer a lot of scholarships to students making it substantially more affordable.
4. Location: Taking the location into consideration is very important as well. Each location comes with a set of pros and cons, so one needs to research thoroughly before deciding where to apply.
Could you elaborate a little more on why location in an important factor in choosing a university?
There are several reasons why location is important.
Post study work: Education abroad is a big investment. Whenever there is the question of investment the returns become important. A lot of times the expectation is that after completing their studies a student will be able to work in the country for a couple of years to gain some experience and also earn some of the funds they spent while studying. Destinations like USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and some other European countries offer students opportunities to stay back and seek employment within the country. A lot of times this leads to immigration opportunities if the student wants to migrate.
Costs: As mentioned before some locations are more expensive than others. Studying in London can be more expensive than studying in Coventry, which is only 70 minutes away.
Weather: While this does not seem like much, weather can be a major issue when settling in a new country. Some countries have beautiful sunny weather and some countries can be cold, while others can be unpredictable. If a student does not like the cold, studying in Northern Canada can be quite depressing. Similarly if someone doesn't like the rain, London may not be the best destination for them. Having said that, every country or location will be different from your own; A little time is all it takes to get adjusted.
Big city vs small town: Each of us are different and therefore each of us have a preferred location. A big city like New York or London can offer lots in terms of social life, amenities, and luxuries. At the same time it might be more expensive and it is possible to become lonely in a busy environment. A small town will give students the opportunity to study peacefully in a serene environment and can be much cheaper than its big city counterparts, however some students may find it a bit boring and quiet.
How can students prepare themselves before applying to universities?
English: This can be done by reading (especially newspapers) and watching news.
Extra curricular activities: It is becoming more and more competitive out there. In order to stand out just academics is not enough. Besides excellent academics, one needs to develop hobbies and passions. Take up photography, join the student parliament or the model UN, do some volunteering, etc. They look very impressive to admission officers.
Which education programmes and fields are in demand at the moment?
Professions like IT, Engineering, Law, Business are always in demand. However we don't believe that a student should choose a profession based on demand. Everyone is different and they have different skill sets. Students should try to find out about themselves to figure out what kind of personality they have and what they enjoy. Based on that they should determine what kind of profession would be ideal for them. Personality tests like Myers & Briggs can help a lot.
Life is too short to pursue a career one is not suited for. If one can pursue their passion they will be happier and will also be more successful in that field. It is possible to find success in almost any profession provided one has the passion for it
Why should a student go to an agency to apply to universities?
This is a very good question and one that requires reflection. It is not necessary at all to go to an agency to apply to universities. It is possible to select universities by oneself and all information is available online. Having said that, there are a few benefits of taking an agency's assistance.
An agency which deals with a lot of universities will have their entire information in one place. If a student identifies their choice of subject, preferred country, affordability, academic background, it is possible to narrow down their choice of universities to a handful making the decision-making process incredibly easy.
A good agency is experienced with the application process, entry requirements and visa requirements. The student can just provide their documents and the agency can take care of the rest.
Visa support: Visa is a big concern for students. Each country has its own philosophy behind granting entry clearance and visas, and this may be very confusing. A good agency will be able to guide students in this regard from the beginning. Questions like how much money to show, medical requirements, source of funds, etc, will be tackled earlier.
Be aware of agencies that help you in procuring fake documentation or promise too much. All information should be independently verified online so that one can avoid being cheated.
Rouham Manzoor is the managing partner of MACES, one of the leading education consultancy firms in Bangladesh. More information can be found by visiting www.macesbd.com.