With the introduction of tuition fees and the costs of higher education rising in the UK, more and more people are looking at their university and further education options with fresh eyes.
While still in a minority, experts predict that within the next decade a significant number of UK students will be undertaking their undergraduate and postgraduate study overseas.
So if you are considering studying abroad, what considerations should you bear in mind and what do you need to know in order to help make your decisions about where, when and how to study?
Quality of education
Studying abroad may be a positive career move but you need to be sure that the university and course you choose are up to par with your options back at home. Choose wisely however, and you could be setting yourself up for a quick flight up the career ladder, with a world-renowned education, big budgets and a ready-made network of high-calibre contacts to help you on your way.
Whether you are studying for an undergraduate degree or a postgraduate qualification, employers will be impressed at your get up and go if you can demonstrate that you have successfully relocated, adjusted and achieved in an unfamiliar environment, possibly even in a foreign language.
Language is of course an interesting consideration when looking at courses abroad. Increasing numbers of universities are now offering a number of degree and postgraduate courses in core subjects in the English language. It is important to assess the suitability of these courses however, in relation to your proposed career. Check whether they are considered to be of the same standard as the equivalent degree course in your home country or another degree course from the university in the language of that country.
Given the levels of immersion required to relocate and live in a foreign country, it is possible to achieve a high degree of fluency quickly, so if you have an aptitude for languages do not rule out the possibility of studying in a foreign language, particularly if it is one that you already have some level of proficiency in. That said, it would of course be less stressful from the outset to study in your own language, so universities in other English-speaking countries are an exciting option.
Where to study
The US has long been a sought-after destination for bright graduates and undergraduates from the UK, but increasingly Australia and New Zealand are featuring on the wish lists of youngsters looking for broader study opportunities than are offered at UK universities. Australia and New Zealand are dynamic countries with growing economies and a positive future outlook. Their universities are enjoying increasingly strong reputations both for tuition and research and with a high quality of life at lower costs than the UK, studying on the other side of the world makes for a compelling proposition.
Studying in Australia
The Australian higher education system is pretty much in line with the UK’s in terms of course length, quality of tuition and course structure. Most undergraduate degrees take three years and most Masters degrees one year of full time study. There is also a wide range of MPhils, PHDs and other postgraduate courses lasting anything from six months to four years. Qualifications from Australian universities are widely recognised and held in high esteem from employers all over the world.
There are many universities located in each of the state capitals and other cities and regional centres all over the country. On line research will provide a full list, however the core universities to look out for as a foreign student will be the Go8, or Group of Eight, which is a collective of Australia’s oldest and most established study centres, comprising the universities of Adelaide, Australian National, Melbourne, Monash, New South Wales, Queensland, Sydney and Western Australia. Consider these equivalent to the UK’s Russell Group universities or the US Ivy League, with many of them featuring regularly in lists of global leading universities.
Entry requirements will vary from course to course so check them carefully before beginning the application process to maximise your chances of success.
Fees for international students are not cheap, however with increasing tuition fees in the UK they are now roughly comparable whilst providing some key life skills and experiences in the process. The Australian government runs a scholarship programme for overseas students, with information available online or directly from the universities, as well as a number of exchange programmes.
Studying in New Zealand
Like Australia, New Zealand’s universities are increasingly well regarded and offer a wide range of programmes from undergraduate degrees and diplomas to postgraduate study for Masters degrees, Doctorates and so on. The academic year begins in late February and runs until late November.
There are eight universities and a number of polytechnics and institutes of technology in New Zealand. The leading institutions are Auckland University of Technology, Lincoln University, Massey University, The University of Auckland, University of Canterbury, University of Otago, University of Waikato and Victoria University of Wellington.
Details on specific courses and funding opportunities are published by each university, so in-depth web research is vital, as is as much direct contact as possible with the institutions that are of interest to you. The Association of Commonwealth Universities is a useful resource for anyone thinking of studying in Australia or New Zealand and makes a good starting point for finding out about the opportunities available to you.
Making your application
It is important to make your application as early as possible in order to leave plenty of time to organise your visa, make travel and living arrangements and to generally acclimatise yourself to the prospect of relocating. Applications are usually made by September of the preceding year for February entry, and often even earlier for the most oversubscribed courses.
If you have a sense of adventure, a broad outlook and are keen to give yourself a competitive edge when it comes to building your future career, studying abroad could be for you. Start your research today and who knows what the future may bring?