Studying for a degree abroad: Student World

This is the talk about general information about studying abroad, just making sure that you’re all at the right talk. ‘Where in the world do you want to study?’ is kind of our motto and where we’re coming from and what we’re doing.

The Student World is aiming to be an institution that kind of like your first stop to go to if you want to find out more about studying abroad. Is it right for me, or not? What are the things to keep in mind, where can you find out more information about specific information?

My name is Anna, I’ve done it myself, I studied in three different countries, I studied in Germany, the UK, and the US, so I can tell you a bit more about that, and I do hope that you can all gain some information about the who, the why, the where, and the how to go about studying abroad with me.

Who goes to study abroad? About 4.1 million students have decided to leave their home county and go to another country to get a degree. Whether it’s a bachelor, a masters, or a PhD degree. I don’t have a number directly from Jersey, I only have number from the UK and in the UK it’s about 23,000 students
that decided to do that.

That’s not even 1% of all the students from around the world that have decided to leave their home country from the UK going out. So we are hoping that more and more students are doing that. I think in Jersey there’s already a bit of a higher percentage if you’re looking at it. If you compare that number to the overall number of students internationally coming to study in the UK, that’s about 10 times that.

There’s about 10 times more students coming into the country than going, and that’s quite common for English language countries, so Australia, there’s about 13% even, and the US is similar to that. So it’s quite normal, but we do think that there’s potential to increase that number quite drastically.

Why do students study abroad? We think there are three reasons. There are differences on a personal level that they’re seeking, there are different academic programs, and different financial elements to it as well. I do think it’s really important to keep it in that order, if it’s not right for you on a personal level, it doesn’t matter that it might be a cheaper option to study somewhere

If the program isn’t right for what you want to do, because your career doesn’t
really need an international experience, then again that doesn’t really make a point. So it isn’t for everybody. So, on a personal level I could talk aboutthat for about an hour, but I don’t have that much time. Simply because to me it was definitely an experience of a lifetime to have gained that international experience and studied abroad.

For most students, when they looked at it, some of the reasons are just gaining a different kind of experience, being in a different kind of environment, maybe adding a language skill if you have already learned a language, you want to add that or perfect that might be an option. Going into different cultures, immersing yourself into something that is different from what you’ve been doing.

Maybe different kind of foods with that I always like to point out if there are any parents here and your sons or daughters are thinking about studying abroad, there’s nothing better than a care package with their favourite sweets and food coming from home. That’s something to keep in mind, there will always be something that you really desperately miss.

And then the same when you’re coming back, missing whatever you had in the other country will be quite common. Different kind of environment. You already live on a beautiful island so maybe you don’t necessarily want to go somewhere else, but you could be studying somewhere where it’s about 40 degrees all year round, or where you’ve got the mountains to go skiing.

There are different kinds of settings where you could be. You could be in a major capital city, or in a small village. Those are all different options that you could be. And last but not least, to me friends were quite an important factor It was an important factor when I was thought about going away. Will I be okay with missing my friends from home? Will I still be in touch with them, and I could say yes definitely I’m still in touch with them, but what was actually much more important in my life now looking back were the friends that I made whilst studying abroad. Because I ended up meeting students from so many different other countries that were all going through the same process of being in a different country and learning a new environment, maybe even learning a new language for many of them, and that kind of was a binding moment.

Now, I have friends from about 60 different countries, and if I look through my Facebook list it’s probably a bit more than that even that have all a really close connection to me. And I’ve noticed that this year particularly when the demonstrations were happening in Istanbul, I actually found out about those demonstrations through my friends Facebook feed, posting about it, and two hours later checked on the news to find out what was going on and there it was.

The world has become quite a bit different for me, through my international
experiences and through the people that I met along the way. Some questions to ask yourself, and there are many more, but are you the person who can adapt easily to a new environment? Are you curious? Are you open to new ideas? If you are very set with one idea, those set mindsets will be questioned by meeting those different people. Are you okay with making new friends? How happy are you with being away from your friends and family? How far away do you want to be? Do you have that maturity and independence that it takes to go into a place completely by yourself sometimes? Do you speak another language? If you don’t speak it, do you at least understand it? If you don’t understand it, can you speak with your hands and feet to make yourself understood? Can you live without your favourite food?

Just some ideas, but there’s so many more questions that you need to ask yourself to find out whether it’s right or not for you to study abroad. On an academic level, some of the things to keep in mind are that you might find programs that you can find here or in the UK are also offered abroad and offered in English many cases. Sometimes they might have a very different title to what you would be looking for in the UK, or the same title might have very different content. So that’s something to look out for.

Different university systems there are different settings, you might find really big universities or small universities, you might find some universities are requiring internships or periods throughout the year where you actually have to work in a company.

There are different lengths of programs, you will find that a lot of programs offer four year bachelors rather than three year bachelors, two year rather than one year masters. So again that’s something to look at. Different teaching and evaluation styles, there are some countries where the teaching is not so
much about the contact that you have from the professor, there’s others where actually that teacher-student contact is very highly valued. You might have institutions, for example in Germany, where the old system is still quite so much that you have a professor talking to you and about 800 other students, and you’re taking notes and there’s one exam at the end and that’s what it’s all based on. Whereas you have other institutions where there is a lot of hands on experience, you will be tested continuously on how you’re doing and
how you’re keeping up.

Again asking the questions ‘How will I be taught?’, ‘How much teacher contact will I have?’, ‘How will I be evaluated?’, ‘How will I be tested?’ are things to keep in mind. Accreditation is another important point. The majority of universities are accredited which means that they have a stamp of approval that means that the degree that you get from that institution is valid all around the world pretty much, and that that degree can also be taken onto the next level, so if you’re doing a bachelor degree that will be accepted by most other universities to then study a masters there.

There are however some black sheep out there that do not have that so it is good to double check that, specifically with private institutions and specifically with private universities that offer you the sun, the moon, and stars. There might be some dodgy things about that. Employability. There are many factors that make studying abroad quite interesting. If you’re looking for a career with an international touch then having that international experience is a big plus. But even if you’re looking for careers where it’s not necessarily a needed element, it can bring you that extra edge. It can also open new job markets, you don’t necessarily have to come back to work here, you could be going to the country you studied in and stay there, or onto yet another place.

Those are things to keep in mind as well. Admissions process. That again is something that varies quite drastically from country to country, and sometimes from institution to institution, and sometimes even from program to program. The main points to keep in mind is that it varies and you need to ask ‘What actually do I need to apply?’, ‘When are the deadlines?’, ‘Is it just my grades or are they looking for extra curricular activities that I need to prove?’, ‘Are there extra tests that I need to take?’, ‘Are there interviews that I need to consider?’, those are the main points to keep in mind when looking at the admissions process.

Those are the kind of main points on an academic level. So again, ask yourself what kind of career are you aiming for. There are some careers where it might be a bit more complicated, there’s somebody here that helps with studying medicine abroad for example. You can do that abroad but it might mean that
you have to jump through a couple of hoops when coming back, same for law or teaching or nursing, those are the kind of degrees where often the government has a huge influence.

Again – ‘Does it make sense to have that international experience for the career that I’m aiming at? Do I want to improve a language? How do I learn? How am I taught best? Do I like small groups or big groups? Do I need support? What kind of setting do I want to be in? A major capital? Somewhere in the middle of a cornfield in the US? A sporty college? A political college?’ The same as you have here, they all have their own identity. Again, finding what you’re truly looking for in a university will help you answer finding that right place. Are you happy to do a fourth year, that is often a requirement.

‘Do you want to gain practical experience- is that offered within the institution that you’re looking at? How important are rankings and networking opportunities?’ There are world ranking universities, if you’re looking in the top 100, yes the UK is quite often on the top there, but there is another 95 institutions around the world that might be even better for the particular program that you’re looking at as well.

Financially, now that’s the big one. I normally get ‘I heard it’s completely free to study abroad’, or ‘It costs too much I can’t do it’. Those are the two extremes I get. There is a bit of truth involved in both of them. You will find countries where there is no tuition whatsoever, Scandinavia, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, do not charge tuition in you have an EU passport. However the living
expenses are really an important factor for those countries and they tend to be quite expensive to live, to go out, to move around.

All those factors need to be considered when studying abroad. Then there are other countries where then the costs increase, other continental European countries, the Netherlands is about €1,500 for example, Germany is around €800, France depends on which institution you’re looking at, and then it gets more expensive going into Asia, it’s a bit more expensive there. And then it grows exponentially to Canada, the US, Australia, and New Zealand, in order of how much it will cost.

The US, however, has a very good support system for international students and scholarships and financial support. Australia not so much, but you’ve got two great examples that can help you with finding out more about that and ask more questions about that as well. As well as for Canada some support there. So what are the main support systems? You will find that a lot of universities have their own student loans and their own scholarships.

There is also some governmental support that you can get, either from Jersey directly or from the country that you’re going into, the Netherlands for example, offers, if you have a EU passport, the same student loan system that they give to Dutch students. So that’s something to keep in mind. Grants is basically money that is often project based, or financial needs based. So that’s something that you can apply for, but it might only cover a small percentage or only one particular project of your degree. Scholarships are set often directly from the universities. If they don’t offer scholarships, or if they know of additional scholarships, they are also the number one source to find out more about general scholarships opportunities. Scholarships can be based on just purely academic, to that ‘one Jersey student applying this year wanting to study Engineering at an institution that also offers sports that he’s really good at’. It can be as specific as that. And then working as a student, there are some places where it is quite easy and straight forward, obviously all over Europe you can work whilst studying.

When you’re looking at the U.S. it is possible but there might be restrictions to only working on the campus for example. So asking with your visa, if you needed one, what are the allowances and how much you can work, And also If you don’t speak the language, how easily can you find a job? What kind of job will it be, probably not serving in a restaurant but washing the dishes. Are you happy to do that?

Some of the questions you need to ask yourself. Can you or your family
fund yourself? We normally advise people to have at least the money for the first year, so that you know that you can fall back onto that if needed. And do you qualify for scholarships? Do you have a different citizenship status and therefore qualify for additional or less support, or different kinds of tuition fees that you need to pay? Do you want to work to support your studies? Are you allowed to work? What kind of jobs? Really get an overview of all the costs, not just tuition but also living expenses and all of those extra elements.

Health insurance is another often quite important cost factor to keep in mind. So where do students go? This is the top 10 destinations from those 4.1 million students. So the U.K. is quite popular, and you will find that most of the English Language countries are there, but even countries like Germany, Russia, and Japan, are also popular destinations for them. Again, I don’t have a Jersey specific map from the UK. The darker the map gets, it’s not really a good map but, the more students have gone to. So again you see that the majority of students will go to in particular US, Canada, Australia, continental Europe, but also Russia, Middle East, and Brazil are more and more popular destinations for students to go to.

I’ve got some examples of where you could be going to. The US is often a very popular destination. There’s over 4,000 universities and colleges in the US. Just to give you a reference, there’s about 330 in the UK. So more than ten times more. So the choices and the options are manifold and so are the different options and how you go about it and how you go about applying. They have a more or less standardised system that most of them hold to, which often requires standardised tests, but it is something that can vary quite specifically.

The one thing to keep in mind with the US is in general their education system is quite broad in the first and the second year of a four year program, and then it starts specialising more and more as you go in. Not so much one subject, but more general education before specialising. If you know exactly what you want to do and you can’t be bothered to do any biology classes ever again, you might not want to go to the US because it might part of your curriculum.

In general four year programs at undergraduate, one year master programs. Afterwards, costs can vary drastically from institution to institution, the state universities tend to be cheaper than the private universities. The private universities however are the ones that often give more financial support for international students. The one thing to keep in mind is that the price tag in the US is never actually the amount of money that you will be paying at the end, that’s very rare.

There will always be financial support, scholarships, and other things that can reduce that cost quite drastically. To give you an idea, Harvard gives away about six scholarships each year that cover the full tuition, living expenses, and even flights home at Christmas. So you’re studying four years for free. That could be a potential in the US. Six, right, don’t go crazy.

Those are the things to keep in mind when you’re looking at the US. The number one resource for the US is the Fulbright Commission. They have a London office and they help with general support, how to apply, and how to look for the right institutions. There’s some really good content on their website, so it’s worth having a look at if you’re looking for the US. Canada I’m not going into too much detail because we’ve got the expert out there, High Commission Canada, who can tell you much more about it. Again, quite a range of universities. The differences between the big universities and then the colleges, which often have the more applied programs. Obviously you can also do some French courses if you go into the Quebec area. Quite a safe environment.

You can also once you graduate there, live and work in Canada for several years. In the US you need to actually have a contract written and have a sponsor from an employer for you to stay after you graduated there. Canada allows that afterwards as well. And they cost a bit less than the US, and there is some funding there again. Canada International, well that’s basically her website from Alison out there from the High Commission can help you with much more information on that.

And going into Europe is just some general information. I always think is an interesting aspect, I do this presentation a lot in the UK which is why this pops up here. It costs much less to study in Ireland if you have a British Passport, you’re looking at around €2,000 fees there, that’s about £1,600, and similar living expenses, similar lifestyle, similar programs offered, similar level of education. There’s some really good institutions in Ireland as well so it’s definitely worth having a look at if you’re looking for a cheaper option.

The Netherlands is a very popular destination also. The Netherlands has around 1,500 programs offered in the English language, so that’s why more and more international students are flocking to the Netherlands. They have 14 big research universities, some of which also have what is called a university college, which is an international program running independently from the university, but is part of the university, that often has the more international focused programs. And then it has 35+ universities of applied sciences, which again also offer English taught programs.

You can also after that get a masters degree, but you wouldn’t be able to get a PhD at those kind of institutions. So that’s the difference there. Most of them are three year programs, some of them are four year programs, often those are the ones that require an internship as part of the degree. Living expenses depends on which city you go into. Between €800 to €1,100 a month. Tuition fees however are the same no matter where you go.

You’re looking at around €1,500 per year. However if you don’t have a British passport or EU passport that can go up to €6,000, so that’s something to keep in mind, if you don’t fall into that element. So generally speaking they say as an EU student you’re paying overall per year around €9,000 to cover all of your costs per year. So the Netherlands is definitely a cheaper option with quite a variety of programs available. Middle East just as an idea, many of the programs are actually taught in Arabic or French, but you will find there is actually quite a number of universities offering campuses in the Middle East. So you find for example Nottingham Trent have a campus out there.

New York University has a campus in Qatar. So more and more institutions
have a campus out there that offers programs in English, so it might be worth having a look at those kind of options for a completely different lifestyle as well. Cost can vary completely, it can be more expensive than the home based campus, it can be cheaper than the home based campus. Living expenses again vary with Beirut being cheaper than Dubai obviously. So worth having a look at as well.

And then going into China. Often a cheaper option, you’re looking at around £1,300- £1,500 tuition. There’s not that many English taught programs out there yet, most of them will prepare you to learn one of the Asian languages or looking into international relations or business, those are kind of like more popular programs offered in English. Completely different lifestyle, completely different setting. So for the brave ones out there those are some good options. And living expenses can also be generally cheaper than over here as well. And then last but not least, New Zealand, EAustralia. Again we’ve got the experts out there so I’m just going to point you over to Study Options for some more in depth information. Generally speaking 3-4 year programs.

Just general advice, Australia has more of the universities, more of the research kind of focus, whereas New Zealand tends to have more colleges and applied programs there. So that’s just general advice, but you will find both at either place. Generally speaking you don’t have that much financial support when going to Australia, so that is something to keep in mind and find out more about.

Study Options out there is a great resource for that. So again, some questions. How far do you want To go? How far also from access to home and time differences? You can go all the way to South Africa and only have an hour difference, or all the way to Australia and have to wait until late so that your mum wakes up. Things to keep in mind. What climate do you want to be in? What culture do you feel happy in? What are the general expenses that you need to consider for that country? What is the political, economical, and religious situation? Would you be happy to be in a country where they do call for prayer a couple of times a day? Do you qualify?

There might be restrictions for certain student visas to keep in mind. And also for certain degrees there are certain things you can’t do. For example, studying to become a teacher in Germany, you just don’t want to do it. So that’s just to give you an idea. I’m not going to go into the details but you don’t want to do it. So some of the things to keep in mind for that as well. So basically, how do you go about it? You have to do your research. Find out more, ask a lot of questions and don’t take things for granted, don’t assume that it might be just the same as it is here. Figure out where to apply, narrow it down, asking friends and family, using social media if you can’t go, if you can go, go and visit the campuses, there is nothing better than doing that. It’s worth spending a couple of hundred pound to visit a campus and then find out that you hate it rather than spending four years at a campus that you’re absolutely not liking.

Apply again, figure out early, we advise students about 18 months before they end their schooling to look into when are the deadlines, what is required, what are the things I need to keep in mind? And then also is there a visa process that I need to keep in mind, so again, those points are important to keep in mind for the application process. Then preparing yourself, figuring out how to open a bank account, how to cover health insurance, where will you be living, does the university provide support on all those different kind of things so am I on my own and where do I find that information? And then the actual moving process,
getting your stuff to wherever it needs to be, and then last and not least enjoy your time as a student hopefully. So that’s basically the process you have at any university, but it just needs a bit more in depth steps to it. And if you want to do much more research and find out more, the institution that I work for, which is called The Student World, host three fairs next spring, they’re going to be in London, Leeds and in Dublin.

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