By Team Asia Education Review

The Evolution of Studying Abroad

  • In an exclusive interview with Asia Education Review magazine, Monica Kapadia Mehta, Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Leap Scholar, shares her views on factors that students should take into account when studying abroad, methods that would be most effective in a distance learning setting, challenges of studying abroad, and more.

    What are the primary factors that students should take into account when studying abroad, and why is this topic growing in importance?

    The Major or the Field of Specialization: It is important to figure out which field you wish to specialize in because that will often determine the country and university. STEM degrees are the most popular choices, including Computer Science, AI, ML, Cyber Security, Computer Engineering, MBA, Data Sciences, Finance and more.

    Top Countries/Universities for Your Field/Major/Programmed: Your field of specialization will often determine which countries and/or universities across the world are well-known and offer subjects/programs that you aspire to pursue. For example, while the USA is highly regarded for its technology and MBA degrees, Germany is known to offer some of the best programs in engineering and Italy/France offers great programs in fashion design.

    Standardized Tests and Eligibility Criteria: What are the standardized tests you need to take and the minimum scores required in the country of your choice? Are you required to take language proficiency tests? These are important questions to answer.

    The Cost and Financing of your Education Abroad: The overall cost of an education abroad, which includes tuition fees, student living expenses and other incidentals like insurance is an important consideration while choosing a country for overseas education. The cost can vary largely depending on the country, program and university.

    There are various means of financing your education abroad, including but not limited to loans, personal savings, scholarships, assistantships, etc. It is important to think of your budget and choose your country and university accordingly. Some students choose European countries like Germany as they offer no-cost or very affordable education. Some universities in the USA offer high scholarship amounts for deserving students (merit-based scholarships).

    What are the study methods that would be most effective in a distance learning setting?

    The most effective study methods for learning through distance education are the following:

    Personalized Learning: Personalized learning is an effective educational approach that aims to customize learning for each student's strengths, needs, skills, and interests. It is essential for distance learning to be beneficial and successful. In this method, first learner profiles are understood, and then customized learning paths are created wherein each student gets a learning plan that's based on what they know and how they learn best. Finally, proficiency-based progress is measured.

    For hybrid learning to be successful, it requires a focus on what may best be done on campus, such as face-to-face instruction, and what may best be done online, such as providing flexibility and wide access to resources and experts.

    Increased student control, choice, and independence: Distance learning must offer students flexibility in learning resources, pace of learning, contribution to online discussions and timing of assessments to provide them with complete control over their learning experience as well as make they're studying more effective.

    What challenges do students face if they want to study abroad? Why do they believe that education abroad is superior to that in India?

    Lifestyle & Culture: One of the most difficult challenges for students to face when they study abroad is making the decision of which country is best suited for one to live, study, and work. One must thoroughly learn about the country’s lifestyle, culture, climate, spoken language, etc. Some countries require you to have knowledge of the local language to study and work. Also, living expenses can vary widely from country to country. Hence, an analysis of these aspects is essential and is a big hurdle to overcome when you make the decision to study abroad.

    Career opportunities and work visa post-graduation: You need to carry out in-depth research and make yourself aware of the career opportunities available in the country after the completion of your course. You must also carry out research about your specific industry and the current market conditions for hiring as that will have a significant impact on your decision. Also, one must find out how the prospective university can help you seek graduate employment.

    One must also take into consideration work visa laws for graduates in the country that you seek to study in. If the intention is to stay back in the country and work for a few years, the market conditions and the work visa laws will play an important role in making the decision. This is another challenge that students face when making the decision to study abroad.

    One of the major reasons that many Indian students prefer an education abroad is that international degrees and qualifications help them attain better job prospects and much higher salaries, especially if they choose to stay back in a foreign country and work. It also helps to build their resume over time such that if they decide to come back to India and work, their work experience abroad is held in high esteem and fetches those better positions and compensation.

    What major trends can we expect in the study abroad industry in future?

    The emergence of new programs: Over the next few years, Indian students will increasingly move from familiar degrees like computer science and engineering to degrees that are more in line with the future of work such as Healthcare, AL/ML, Biotechnology and Humanities (Psychology, Mass Communication, Linguistics)

    Tier 2 and 3 Cities: More and more students from Tier 2 & 3 cities in India are aspiring to experience a foreign education - there will be a large increase in students heading overseas for a degree from the smaller cities and towns.

     Hybrid learning and pathway programs: More students will partake in the opportunity that hybrid learning and pathway programs present. They enable Indian students to pursue a degree abroad at a much lower cost with greater flexibility and yet with the same result of getting a foreign degree and a post-study work visa in the country of their choice.

    Artificial Intelligence in Classroom Discussions & Global Citizenship: Students will be learning Artificial Intelligence as a part of their curriculum - it will be embedded in their learning. A global mindset will also be critical in the next few years and an important ingredient for success. Students will become more familiar with various cultures and will have access to other students and trainers from around the world through blended learning.

    Student financing: More and more financial institutions are showing a keen interest in helping students achieve their dreams through various innovative financial products, offered by both Indian as well as international financial institutions. Access to funds is increasingly being made easier for students. Over the years, the loan penetration has seen an upward trend.