Date:09/05/2011 URL: http://www.thehindu.com/thehindu/edu/2011/05/09/stories/2011050950330100.htm
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The magic of a foreign master's

B ARAVIND KUMAR & AMUTHA KANNAN

One trend that emerged at The Hindu Education Plus International Education Fair'11 was that master's courses turned out to be the chief motivation for students to study abroad.

Photo: R. Ravindran

A FAVOURITE CHOICE:The traditional domains of engineering and management continued to attract students despite diverse options at The Hindu Education Plus International Education Fair 2011, in Chennai.

Students came with limited ideas but were taken in by the diverse options available to them. The diversity did not stop with courses, but extended to the number of countries.

The Hindu Education Plus International Education Fair 2011 at Chennai and Coimbatore had institutions from the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, The Netherlands, Dubai, Germany, Canada, Russia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Australia, France and other European countries. The government representatives presented the dos and don'ts for aspiring students in seminar sessions at the fair, and consultants to universities were eagerly explaining the uniqueness of the courses offered.

Most of the students were looking at pursuing master's degree programmes. The number of students aspiring for undergraduation and doctoral programmes were limited. In spite of the plethora of courses, students and parents showed interest in the traditional domains of engineering and management. Enquiries for medicine were also quite good.

“The number of students looking abroad for UG has increased by five per cent. Still, the preference is for master's degree,” says Gigeo Sakkaryas, director, IMTP Consultancy Services. Students were looking to go abroad due to the mismatch in demand and supply of quality institutions of higher education in India. Students with an 80 per cent rank could get seats in universities abroad as seats were limited in top institutions, such as management courses in IIMs, he says.

Apart from the U.S. and the U.K., Australia, Canada, Singapore and Netherlands turned out to be hotspots for life sciences, technical and engineering courses. The U.S., with over one lakh Indian students, continues to draw attention. The USIEF sessions in Chennai were jam-packed on both the days.

At the seminar sessions, the educational experts from USIEF, British Council, German Academic Exchange and Australian Trade Commission, all insisted that the students be self-motivated in finding the right courses and right universities on their own by browsing through the university websites, faculty profiles, career options and getting in touch with alumni of institutions where they wanted to pursue higher education through social networking sites.

For U.S. universities, the website is www.educationusa.state.gov. For U.K., it is www.educationuk-in.org. For courses taught in English in Germany, students can refer to www.daad.de/international-programmes. All details about higher education in Australia is available at www.studyinaustralia.gov.in. To know about universities in the Netherlands, the website is www.studyinholland.nl.

It was made evident that the students were required to spend long hours on the Internet researching on the programmes offered and interact with faculty with whom they were planning to have guidance during their study period. Students were also encouraged to walk into USIEF, British Council, German Academic Exchange and meet education promotion officers of other countries in Chennai with prior appointment to know about universities, admission procedures and visa applications in detail.

While higher education in the U.S. and U.K. could be costlier, Canada, Germany and Netherlands collect relatively lower fee at about Rs. 10 lakh to 15 lakh per year as the governments fund the universities. Studying medicine in Russia is still cheaper at Rs. 2 lakh a year. Apart from the traditional universities, there were institutes promoting management education, hotel management and gaming. “The fee will be Rs. 10 lakh per term, including living expenses. Students can opt for a bachelor's degree or PG Diploma in Hotel Institute Montreux,” says Peter Reimer of Swiss Education Group.

Frankfurt School of Finance & Management offers management programmes with a tuition fee of about 30,000 Euro, said Sumit Rai, the school's Indian representative. DigiPen Institute of Technology, in association with Ubisoft, offers continuing education and training in game programming, game art and game design apart from modular courses in its campus in Singapore, says Jasmine Wong, Admissions Officer.

Of late, Canada is emerging as an education destination for its cost-effectiveness and safe learning environment. “The most preferred courses are automotive engineering and management courses related to automotives. A large number of students from south India, especially Chennai and Coimbatore, prefer these courses because both are automotive hubs,” says Prof. Ram Balachandar, University of Windsor, Canada. “The Netherlands too is attracting foreign students due to promotional activities for the past two years. And the number of Indian students studying there had increased five-fold in two years,” says Sudha Sudeep, Education Promotion Officer of The Netherlands Business Support Office, Chennai.

To enable students get information about the educational loans that were on offer for those studying abroad, the State Bank of India has various options on hand. “SBI ranks number one in providing educational loans. We give up to Rs. 20 lakh for students aspiring to go abroad for higher education,” said C.R. Cauvery, DGM, SBI.

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