Many takers for a foreign degree

EDUCATION EXHIBITION

DESTINATION ABROAD A counsellor answer’s a student’s queries at the Education UK Exhibition organised by the British Council in Bangalore.

Assaults, scams and now radio collars - the risks of studying abroad are mounting in grave and at times bizarre ways.

But for thousands of young people in Bangalore, the news of Indian students being forced to wear tags in the United States hasn’t put them off setting their sights overseas. During the past week, big crowds attended several international education fairs.

The United States remains the top destination for many students despite the troubles at Tri-Valley University.

“Generally, we think the US is the most awesome,” says Varun Poojary, who is looking at engineering programmes there and in Australia.

Amir Hussain and Muteeb Hamed, friends who are applying together for MBA courses in the US and Britain, agree.

“My first preference is the US,” Hussain says. “That’s going pretty well, but there’s a lot of competition.”

It is not just fashion that attracts students to the US. Its schools are ranked high and many consider its education to be the best.

But difficulties include the US’s different schooling system and its hard-to-understand application processes. It can come down to an admissions officer to decide whether you get in or not - and it often feels like a matter of chance.

In contrast, Britain and Australia have transparent points-based systems. In many cases, a test score over a specified cut-off is enough to get into a university; getting a visa then comes down to having enough money in the bank. Authorities say this relieves students of uncertainty, and its simplicity reduces scams.

Harsha U N wants to study Engineering in Britain, drawn to what he says are its superior facilities, infrastructure and quality of education.

“But I’m worried about the job prospects,” he says, referring to the gloomy economic climate in Europe. A seminar at the Education UK Exhibition, conducted by the British Council, also warned that finding a job in Britain - both during studies and after graduation - could be tough.

Bushan Shet has nevertheless picked Britain after finding that its schools do a specialised course in Marine Policy and Law. And because he knows the exact requirements to get in, he says he feels comfortable with a year left here in school.

The British Government has certified all schools accepting foreign students and its High Commission inspects all visa applications, but Hussain and his friends have still come across trouble. He says there are agents offering to print fake test scores and financial documents.

Meanwhile in Australia, safety concerns linger after a series of assaults on Indian students during the past three years.

Poojary says many of his friends won’t look at studying in Australia because of the attacks.

“It’s one of the things that I was actually scared of,” he says.
“Quite a few of my friends outright rejected Australia because of the racial discrimination. But the truth isn’t always out there. My friends in Australia told me it was mostly alright.”
Tanya Lawrence toured Australia last year and did not experience any trouble. She has decided she wants to study Accounting in Brisbane, saying the racism in Australia is no worse than anywhere else.

“It’s all about how you manage their culture and behave in a way they want you to behave,” Lawrence says.

She liked the sense of order in Australia, which she thinks will help give her direction, she says.

“Everything is so organised, everything is in control. Here, nobody has control over anything. In Australia, you can go in one direction and know where you’re going.”
Foreign universities, for their part, praised the students in Bangalore as mature, qualified and well-prepared.

“We always get high quality students from Bangalore,” says University of Exeter international office assistant director Robin Rhodes.

“It’s an informed population,” agrees Griffith University South Asia marketing manager Ashini Malhotra. “Students here are very, very focused.”

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