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Henesh is a seasoned educational counselor with a penchant for being the most patient advisor and an instant hit with confused students seeking education abroad. In the last 6 years of her career, Henesh has helped thousands of candidates choose the right institute. He is well acquainted with higher education colleges and systems in the UK, USA, and New Zealand.
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As per the reports (July 2018) of the Ministry of External Affairs India, over 7,00,000 Indian students were studying abroad. Statistics represented in the report clearly indicated that Indian students opted USACanadaAustraliaGermany, UK, UAE to pursue their higher education. An estimation for the given number revealed that roughly three in four students opt the top three leading study abroad destinations- USA (211,703), Canada (124,000), and Australia (87,115). Apart from some conventional study abroad destinations like Germany, UK, etc, countries like the UAE (50,000), Saudi Arabia (70,800) have also seen a drastic rise in the number of Indian students enrolling in these countries. 

Out of the total number of Indian students studying abroad (2018), a whopping 69.5% decided to choose among the nations mentioned above. The total expenditure on tuition and hostel fees made by Indian students studying in foreign countries increased rapidly by 44 percent from $1.9 billion in 2013-14 to $2.8 billion in 2017-18.

As the world tackles the COVID-19 pandemic, it was expected that due to changed immigration and mobility statuses, the number of students planning to study abroad would go down. Contrary to the theory, it is found out that over 80% of Indian students still want to pursue or continue their education abroad. One of the contributing factors to these statistics in post-COVID world is the trusted international healthcare systems. Countries like Canada offer students with free healthcare at mere health insurance charges.

Why Study Abroad?

According to the Economic Times, since 2005, the total number of international students opting to study abroad has globally risen from 28,00,000 to 41,00,000. In 2018, 50,00,000 international students were studying in foreign countries, out of which, around 7,00,000 were from India.

There are innumerable reasons which encourage both students and their parents to opt for global education. Some of them are discussed below:-

  • Globally-Renowned Education:- The most significant reason for international students to study abroad is the first-class quality of education. No matter which field students decide to pursue, studying in a foreign country offers them a large number of outstanding opportunities in terms of learning, skill-building, and professional knowledge.
  • Great Career Opportunities:- From a wide range of internships to working part-time, international students are exposed to unlimited opportunities and experiences which are valuable for their careers and growth. After the completion of their studies abroad, students possess a high chance of securing better and more fulfilling working opportunities.
  • Cultural Exposure:- Studying overseas offers international students a lifetime opportunity to live in an entirely new country and familiarise themselves with its culture, traditions, people, lifestyles, etc.
  • Discover Yourself:- For many students, studying abroad might be the first time when they will be living on their own. This could be their only chance to re-discover their interests and passions. Also, it involves a lot of responsibilities which can make them into a more independent and self-sufficient individual.
  • Linguistics:- Students studying in foreign countries like the USA, UK, France, Sweden, and Germany need to be fluent in their native languages. Knowing a foreign language is always an added benefit in resumes as well as in personal lives.

What to study abroad?

International students can decide to study abroad at any level of their education, from a few weeks long summer programs to full-fledged degree courses. Some of the most commonly-opted academic programs are:-

Foundation and Pathways Programs: These are the post-secondary academic programs students choose to fill the gap between the current level of their education and knowledge & skills required to pursue a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree at an international university. These programs assist in language proficiency and familiarize students with the education system of a particular country. Foundation Programs generally target both domestic as well as international students.

Associate Degrees: Associate Degrees are the academic programs chosen by students at the undergraduate level. These programs provide a foundation of technical and academic knowledge necessary to go further in a particular choice of study. The duration of these programs is usually two years.

Associate degrees are most commonly offered by US universities, however, students can also find them in several other countries such as Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, and the Netherlands.

Bachelor’s Degrees: Pursuing a bachelor’s degree is one of the most common reasons why international students study abroad. These degrees are standard programs that are recognized globally as ‘undergraduate programs’ and usually spans for 3-4 years. Students are advised to consider this option when a particular program is not offered in their home country. This is as the cost of pursuing a bachelor’s degree is extremely high when considering foreign universities as compared to the home country. Additionally, a master’s degree from international universities has better weightage as compared to a bachelor’s from international universities

Master’s Degrees: Even if one has completed a bachelor’s degree in their home country, they can always explore master’s degree programs around the world. Depending on their field of study, pursuing postgraduate studies from abroad could be highly beneficial for students’ career and growth. A master’s from abroad colleges will help you get a salary hike of around 29% on your previous salary. Not only does an international masters improve your job prospects it also gives you an ace if you wish to pursue doctorate courses abroad. 

Certificates and Diplomas: Certificate courses and diploma programs are short-term pathways to pursue a career or a passion. Students who are looking to gain a very specific skill within a short period of time must consider this option. There is an abundance of such short-term courses in Canada, which makes Canada the leading country to pursue short-term courses among Indian students.  

Doctoral Programs (Ph.D.): Doctoral programs are considered the highest level of education. Since getting admission into Ph.D. programs are quite competitive and selective, pursuing doctoral programs from foreign countries can open various doors for students.

Language Courses: Knowing a foreign language is always an added advantage for students’ resumes and careers. Therefore, it is always a better option to master a new language by interacting with locals instead of self-teaching at home. Also, most universities from the USA, UK, Germany, Canada, and Australia make it compulsory for their international students to be proficient in the native languages.

Where to Study Abroad?

After deciding the study, the next step is to figure out where. Traditionally, the USA dominates this chart with over one lakh Indian students studying in US universities. However, as of August 2018, Australia is also emerging as one of the favorite educational destinations with over 68,000 Indian students studying in renowned Australian universities.

The QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings highlights the countries with the world’s strongest higher education systems. The rankings tabulated below are based on four main criteria, system strength, access, flagship institution performance, and economic context.

Top Countries Rankings to Study Abroad (QS Rankings)

RanksCountries Overall ScoresNo. of Top Ranking Universities*No. of Indian Students (as per MoEA 2018)
1United States100151211,703
2United Kingdom98.68416,550
16New Zealand73.7830,000
18Hong Kong71.24500

The number of top universities in the respective country is given as per QS World University 2021 Rankings

How to Study Abroad?

The decision to study in a foreign country may appear a bit overwhelming. However, if planned accordingly, this process can be simplified into the following steps:-

Choose a Program to Study

Before we begin, the first main step is to finalize the choice of study students want to pursue for their future. There are a lot of programs offered at the associate, bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate levels in a wide variety of professional fields such as Business & Finance, Medicine, Engineering & Technology, Education, History, Literature, Visual & Performing Arts, Politics, etc. Detailed below are some of the most opted programs among Indian students studying abroad. 

Most-Coveted Programs Offered in Germany

Most-Coveted Programs Offered in U.S.A

Most-Coveted Programs offered in United Kingdom

Most-Coveted Programs Offered in Australia

Choose the University/ College

After deciding which program to study, the next step is to target the prospective universities. There is a huge number of universities to study abroad and to choose from the lot can be tedious. This decision should be based on various factors like costs & expenses, academic quality, and structure, faculty, admission requirements, deadlines, post-degree career opportunities, etc.

Tests to Take

There are two types of tests international students must take before starting with the application process. These are Language Proficiency Tests (IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, etc) and Standardized Tests (SAT, ACT, GMAT, GRE, etc). Different countries have different preferences for one test over another. For instance:-

  • IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and PTE (Pearson Tests of English) exams are the most preferred language exams in the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.
  • TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is widely accepted by the USA and Canadian universities.
  • Cambridge English Proficiency Tests (CAE & CPE) are given a huge preference by British universities.
  • SAT and/or ACT scores are widely accepted by countries for undergraduate programs.
  • GMAT/ GRE scores are globally accepted by the universities for graduate programs.


Every university has its own application process and its guidelines. For instance, many US universities accept applications via Common Application Portal whereas universities based in the United Kingdom invites applications via UCAS (The Universities and Colleges Admission Service), Admission to Canadian Universities is invited through some provincial application portals like ApplyAlberta or OUAC. Usually, there is also a non-refundable application fee to be paid.

Necessary Documents

To be considered for admission at a university, international students must submit all the necessary documents along with a completed online/ offline application. These documents play an important role in the evaluation process and the admission decision. Here’s a list of the general documents required to complete an admission application:-

  • Official Transcripts of all the colleges and universities previously attended.
  • Copies of the transcripts translated in the native language
  • Standardized Test Scores (SAT, ACT, GRE, GMAT, LSAT, etc)
  • Proof of Language Proficiency
  • Letters of Recommendation/ References
  • Letters of Motivation/ Personal Statement
  • Resume/ Curriculum Vitae (Updated Version)
  • Samples of Written Work
  • Interview

Student Visa for Study Abroad

International students who are enrolled in qualified educational institutions in foreign countries must obtain a student visa. A student visa is an official travel document issued by the government of a particular country. Students must have a thorough knowledge of all the aspects related to the visa application process and its requirements. Some of them are discussed below:-

When should one apply for a student visa?

The most important factor in studying abroad is to plan efficiently. International students are always advised to begin with their preparation according to the university’s deadlines. Generally, they need to wait for the confirmation letter sent from the university before they apply for a student visa. For smooth application processing without any hassle, students should apply at least 3-4 months in advance.

What type of visa is required?

Different countries have different visa requirements. For instance, students choosing to study in the U.S universities will need to obtain an F-1 Student Visa, whereas, for universities based in the United Kingdom, students must apply for TIer-4 Visa. Given below are the details of how can you get a student visa to study abroad for various countries. 

Countries VisasVisa Application FeesCost in INR (approx.)
United StatesF-1, J-1Sevis Fee: F-1: $350 J-1: $180 25,400
United KingdomTier-4£34833,900
CanadaCandian Study PermitCAD 1608,900
GermanyResidence Permit€1109,500
AustraliaStudent VisaAUD 57530,900

Note: The INR cost approximations are given as per the exchange rate on Sept 1, 2020. 

How to Apply for Student Visa?

Generally, the process of applying for a student visa begins with the university offering a letter of acceptance to the admitted international students. Every country is governed by its own immigration laws and regulations. Therefore, the visa process and its requirements may vary.

However, the general visa process applicable to all study abroad aspirants is given below:-

  • Choose the Visa Type: As mentioned above, international students studying in different countries will require different types of visas. Hence, it is important to have sufficient knowledge about the type of visa which is suitable for a particular student.
  • Apply: International students can apply for their visa via two methods, Online and Offline. Online Visa Application Process is considered far more convenient and requires applicants to create a student profile and attach all the necessary forms. Applicants opting for Offline Visa Application Process need to download the application form, fill all the necessary details and submit it to the official authorities.
  • Visa Application Fee: The next crucial step is to pay the required visa application fee. Students must note that this fee is non-refundable if they decide to cancel the interview appointment or their application gets rejected.
  • Schedule the Visa Interview: International students are advised to schedule an interview appointment with the concerned consulate/ embassy as soon as possible. This is a cautionary step as there is a high chance that the authorities might have a high workload and the waiting time might range from days to weeks.
  • Attend the Interview: The last and the final step is to appear for the interview. Students must show up on time along with all the supporting documents. The official interviewer will ask questions about students’ backgrounds, goals and achievements and students must answer the same in a well-behaved manner.

After attending the visa interview, all that is left is to wait for the application to be processed. After some time, students will be notified about the decision if their applications have been approved or rejected. It is highly recommended to make travel arrangements only after receiving the final confirmation from the visa authorities to avoid the loss of money.

What are the documents required to obtain a student visa?

Every country has its own specific list of documents international students must submit. However, there are a few documents that are generic and applicable to almost all the countries’ requirements.

  • Valid Passport: This is the primary requirement of the visa process. International students must secure their passport with a minimum validity of six months after the end of the studies abroad. Also, students must ensure that they have at least two blank pages in their passports for stamping for a visa.
  • Proof of Funding: Almost all countries require evidence to ensure that their prospective students are financially capable of funding their education in a particular university. The amount includes tuition fees, college expenses, living costs, room & board, electricity, transport, etc. Financial lucidity can be proved by submitting the necessary documents such as Bank Account Statements, Loan Approval/ Disbursement Letter, Scholarships Letters, Affidavit of Support, Loan Capability Certificate etc.
  • Proof of Language Proficiency: Another important criterion of the visa process is to ensure that international students are well capable of communicating in the native language. For English speaking countries, students must be well-versed in the English language and submit the test scores of TOEFL, IELTS or PTE. Students opting for German universities must prove their proficiency in German language by providing TestDaF, DSH, telc, or Goethe Certificate.
  • Proof of Acceptance: While applying for a student visa, international students may be asked to submit a letter of acceptance from the university they have secured admission to.
  • Medical Examination Report: Many countries such as Canada and Australia require international students to undergo a thorough medical examination and submit the reports along with other documents.

How much does it cost to study abroad?

Every parent dreams of providing their children with the best-quality education and resources in the world. As a result, many of them start planning and saving for it since the day their children are born. Unfortunately, higher education is a costly affair, especially in a foreign country.

Therefore, it is one of the most important factors to keep in mind while deciding to study abroad. Apart from tuition fees, the cost of living also plays an important role. Since these costs vary from country to country, we have provided a tabular representation of the tuition fees as well as the average cost of living of the most-coveted countries.

CountriesTuition fees (UG)Tuition fees (PG)Living Costs
USA$26,290$16,757$11,140- $12,680
United Kingdom£10,000- £38,000£11,000- £32,000 £12,180- £15,180
CanadaCA$27,159CA$16,497 CA$15,000
AustraliaAU$30,840AU$20,000- AU$37,000AU$20,290
GermanyNil€20,000- €30,000€10,200

Study Abroad with Scholarships

The enormous costs of living aboard and ever-increasing fees for international students are good enough reasons to scare anyone. Especially when there is always a common misconception among students that there are no scholarships available for international students.

However, students are duly informed that governments and universities all around the world offer an unlimited number of financial opportunities in the form of grants and scholarships. These are designed to attract the brightest minds in their country.

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