International students play a fundamental role in the character of higher education in the UK. With 436,585 international students studying in UK universities in 2014-15, the UK is the second most popular destination in the world for international students. They contribute to a rich learning environment, and universities take a strong international student experience very seriously. This pays off, as international students themselves enjoy the opportunity to learn with and from people with a wide variety of perspectives.
It is excellent to see that outstanding satisfaction rates from international students acknowledge the universities’ efforts. At all levels of study and in all aspects (arrival, living, support and learning), international students’ satisfaction rates are extremely high: 89% for postgraduate taught students, 90% for postgraduate research students and 91% for undergraduate students.
Even more heart-warming for me was the realization that international students also actively recommend UK higher education more than other English-speaking destinations – Canada, USA, Australia and New Zealand.
Their responses to our research using i-graduate’s International Student Barometer (ISB) clearly indicated the top decision-making factors are institutional reputation, the specific course of study and the quality of research.
There are a number of reasons why this continent such a popularly preferred destination for education. One reason is the freedom of movement between 26 countries of the European Union if the non-EU student has a Schengen visa. With the exception of UK and Ireland who have opted out of the EU, students can travel anywhere and there is a minimum hindrance in currency exchange as 19 countries have adopted the Euro. The ability of freedom of travel without restrictive visa conditions or long queues is most liberating.
Studying in Europe also brings the advantage of exposure to multiple old-world cultures and languages of each country. Students gain an insight of the distinctive development of Europe set against a background of history with all the religious, political and ideological variables that have impacted the region and the world.
One fantastic aspect of the higher education system is the introduction of the ECTS – European Credit System — which brought together the stakeholders and ensured the recognition of degrees at all levels. This includes bachelors, masters and research levels between EU countries and their institutions.
Most European universities teach programs enabling students the option to be in another country during their course at all levels including research. These options include study abroad year or semester and at times even a few weeks, research collaborations, and also for internships.
Europe recognizes the need of skills shortages for the future and hence has a policy through its institutions to attract the best talent. Many public funded universities offer programs at extremely low fees while some even offer courses for free. Scholarships are available but students generally need to cover their living costs of approximately Euros 10,000 (Rs 8 lakhs) per annum. Private universities in many of the European countries are substantially lower than those in UK and USA and offer a very competitive high standard of education.
A large number of the European countries allow students to work during the course of their study programs; some are more generous than others. Netherlands offer 10 hours per week whereas most of the others are 15-20 per week, whereas this is unrestricted in Sweden, but all are subject to seeking permissions. Most allow full time during the holidays.
There are a large number of countries that welcome students to join their workforce in the key skill shortage areas. These being in the areas of Engineering, Healthcare, Pharmaceutical Sciences and Cybersecurity among others. Many countries offer students the opportunity to work for a period of 1 and 2 years after their course completion, including Holland, France, and Germany. Switzerland and Belgium on the other hand do not. Hence it is important to verify these facts before finalizing your decision.
- Course and university selection
- Academic profile evaluation
- Submission of admission applications
- Visa application assistance, visa-counselling and mock-interviews
- IELTS/TOEFL training
- Pre-departure guidance and assistance in terms of private accommodation recommendations in select countries.