The basics
Study abroad : Applying to University

Roundtable discussion: Applying to study abroad


We like to think that we offer the best products and service in international education partly because our team have been through the process themselves. So what better group of people to speak to about applying to study abroad than our own digital marketing team who look after our local sites?

We all sat down and chatted about our respective routes to study abroad – see all the different routes there are!


When researching study abroad, did you read any translated materials online or in person? If so, were they memorable enough for you to consider that institution?

Cansu [Turkey]: Although I read some of the study abroad forums online when considering to study in UK, my mind was already made up on some universities so they weren't the reason I planned to enrol at my university.

Ji-Hyung [Korea]: I saw paper prospectuses both in English and in Korean. I thought those institutes which had translated materials into Korean were more memorable than others. It gave me the impression that those institutes are better organised and more popular among international students.

Wilson [Malaysia]: I was here initially on a Holiday Working Visa. Then I decided to pursue my Master degree in order to be able to work in the country with a UK degree. I did research online mainly looking for reputable institutions that offered the course that I wanted.

Hien [Vietnam]: I would go for the university with information in my language because I believe they “care” more about students coming from my country; thus, services for international students are likely to be better.

Joyce [Thailand]: I read both online & the published prospectus I collected from the study abroad event and agency. Most of the information was in English, just few were in Thai. The translated documents were not so comprehensive with rather general information. However what I actually looked for was the course syllabus and detail of the courses structure.  


Were the replies to your enquiries tailored for you or just an automatic/general response back? Were you happy with the response you received?

Cansu: I emailed and called universities and I was really happy with the answers; they were general responses but helpful ones.

Ji-Hyung: I have felt really appreciated when I got the personalised replies from the institutes. On the other hand, I found that there was a lot of unnecessary information in the automatic replies and I felt that it was not really helpful.

Wilson: I applied straight away through the official website, and the answer was tailored to me.

Hien: Yes, the university answered my questions, not general response feedback. I was happy with response from the International Students Office but not from the Accommodation Office.


How easy was it to find programme information for schools?

Cansu: I looked at their website but there wasn't much info so I had to call/email the department for more information.

Ji-Hyung: It was not that easy to find course information by myself as I needed to visit each institution’s website to see the course details, and most of their websites are in English. Therefore, I asked an agent for help to find programme information.

Hien: Not too difficult as I visited the website and found the information in the university website.

Oxana [Russia]: I went to King’s College London and at that time they did not have a fancy website. There was a short description of the program and course modules. Obviously there was not enough information. 


Did you end up attending the institution you intended to when you began? Or did you discover a new one during your search process?

Cansu: Yes, I applied to the university in mind and attended that one.

Ji-Hyung: I had several universities that I was interested in. However I discovered a new university while I searched for courses and finally I ended up studying there. 

Wilson: I got two offer letters, and I picked the one with better ranking and location.

Hien: Yes, I ended up attending the institution I intended to when I began. But I did send few applications.

Joyce: Yes, I did.  


Did most universities have a dedicated international student page?

Cansu: Some of the universities I researched didn't have a resourceful section for international students; however my university was an international university so they had a great international student page.

Ji-Hyung: Yes, they have but most of them are in English, not in local languages.

Wilson: Yes, as far as I am aware.


How important were student reviews during your search process?

Cansu: They were really important as you get ideas and information from people with firsthand experience.

Ji-Hyung: In my opinion, it had quite a huge effect on me as reviews from other students seem more reliable and honest information.

Wilson: I didn’t pay much attention. Ranking was more important to me.

Hien:  Super duper important! When I first started choosing a school, I searched on student forums first to find out which schools in the UK were good for the subject I intended to study and what students were saying about those schools. Then after narrowing down a few institutions, I started looking for their reviews (also on student forums).

Oxana: Before I applied to King’s College I’d spoken with several students. They were raving about this university.

Joyce: It is important and even more significant if the review is from a student of the same nationality or background.


What factors were most important for your parents during your search process?  Were they the same as your own?

Cansu: My parents wanted to make sure that the university and the programme were the perfect fit for my career plans. Scholarship options, tuition and also accommodation were other important factors to consider too.

Ji-Hyung: I think my parents cared about the university’s reputation, like place in university rankings, the most.

Wilson: My parents were not involved at all.

Hien: My parents did not get involved very much in my search process – they respected my decision.


How important were financial packages and scholarships during your search process?

Cansu: They were highly important as studying abroad can cost a lot of money, and these costs are not limited to tuition. Schools with scholarships and lower tuition fees were considered as long as they fitted my career plan.

Ji-Hyung: I think my parents cared about the university’s reputation, like place in university rankings, the most.

Wilson: Not important, my studies were self-funded.

Hien: Very important. Because my university provided quite a good range of scholarships, I was very keen to apply. Even though I failed to get one, the fact that I applied and was accepted did make me think seriously about enrolment. My suggestion to universities: Vietnamese students are very keen on scholarships, and any amount counts. This is an important factor that encourages them to apply with the hope to get a scholarship; but even if they don’t get it, they will still consider the institution because they will have already applied and got accepted.


Did the presence of any international organisations on campus have any influence on which university you choose to study at?

Ji-Hyung: To be honest, I don’t think it has an effect on my decision to choose the university.

Wilson: Not really. I didn’t really have time for it as I was studying full-time and working part-time.

Joyce: I did not have a chance to see the actual university earlier. I judged it from the website, pictures on the internet and word of mouth. The actual university was quite different.  It was old and small from my perception when I was in my home country.


During your search process, did you consider post-study plans when deciding where to study? Was a school’s career services department important to you at that time?

Cansu: Yes, the most important thing to consider was my post study plans. The programme and university I picked would affect my future plans greatly. The mentors at my school explained my career options including positions and sectors I could apply to, post-study.

Ji-Hyung: I hadn’t really considered my post-study plans during my search process, so the school’s careers services weren’t an important factor to make me decide where to study.  

Wilson: Yes, my university did provide career services and advice.  It was very important to know that they were there to help when you needed it.

Hien: I did consider post-study plans but they weren’t my priority. The career services department was important, but not one of my main reason to choose the institution.



The team have all studied abroad..... and now they work abroad too in our London office! This could be YOU one day!

Search now! Marketing, International Relations and Advertising are just some of the subjects which the team studied, but see what else is available too!

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About Author

Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.

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