The number of students studying abroad is rising at an exponential rate. In fact, statistics released by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) reveal that as of 2009 an astonishing 3.7 million students worldwide were studying abroad – a rise of 77% from 2000.
Second behind only the United States in the list of most popular countries that foreign students choose to study is the United Kingdom. In the academic year 2011/12, 30,000 from the total of just over 300,000 foreign students were from India. And although the introduction of stricter rules regarding the application of visa has contributed to this number being significantly less than in previous years, India is still one of the leading countries for providing the UK with its influx of foreign students.
The reasons are obvious: the courses and the qualifications available are some of the most diverse, conclusive and well-respected to be found globally, whilst being home to some of the most established and prestigious institutions in the world. But with over 140 universities to choose from in the UK, how are you to decide which is the best one for you?
Study University websites
Universities are only too keenly aware that their websites now act as a brochure to be used for attracting potential students from both home and abroad. Therefore, they now serve as a portal for information and a valuable resource for foreign students to conduct vital research and download prospectuses
that that will influence their decisions and allow them to gauge the all-important ‘feel’ of a potential university- such as this example provided by Solent University
In addition to university web pages, websites such as the British Council, Hotcourses India and Which University provides tools with which to search the plethora of courses available to students.
Because there is no substitution for word-of-mouth when it comes to recommendations; platforms such as like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can play an increasingly important role when influencing the choices of potential foreign students. This is because sites of this nature allow the access of photos, blogs and videos that provide personal accounts and experiences of current students that can be pivotal in shaping decisions.
For Indian students, rankings are vitally important for influencing decisions based on where to study. There are a whole range of publications and websites that publish rankings which take the form of league tables that are determined through criteria such as student satisfaction and employment prospects for graduates. The latter, in particular, should be of interest to Indians choosing a UK university
because of recent rule changes regarding visas.
Now, if Indian students want to continue working in the UK after their university course has finished, they will need to apply for a visa
which includes tier 2 immigration status. The main requisite of this is that international students find graduate level jobs that will earn them an annual salary of at least £20,000.
Cost of living
Although as international students Indians do have the opportunity to apply for grants and scholarships, places are limited and therefore the competition is high. This means that for a lot of Indians coming to study in the UK the cost of living is a major consideration. In London, for example, The UK Border Agency (UKBA) requires you to have a budget of a £1000 a month in order to cover the high rent and living costs required to study in the nation’s capital.
To help calculate all the different costs that studying in the UK involves, this online tool provided by the International Student Calculator
provides a rough guide to help plan for the amount of money needed.
Now in the digital age with all the sources of information available online it is possible to conduct thorough research into all the 140 universities in the UK. University websites, social media and other sites such the British council all provide fantastic tools for doing this. However, due to changes in visa applications -whichmean international students have to secure graduate level jobs if they want to work in the UK after their degree- rankings and the employment prospects universities provide should be a major factor in influencing decisions. Cost of living is important, too, and though London has fantastic universities and a vibrant culture, it is also the most expensive place to live and study so it might make financial sense to study elsewhere in the UK.
If you are a student that has originated from India and have any advice to share on how you choose a UK university to study at, please share your thoughts in the comments section below.