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The best countries to study abroad as an Indian student

Studying overseas is becoming more and more popular with Indian students, and it’s not hard to see why. There are so many fantastic benefits to studying abroad - not just getting a world-class education, but experiencing a new culture, and boosting your future job prospects.

One of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make if you’re planning to study abroad is which destination is right for you. There are plenty of countries in every corner of the world you can choose from, so finding your perfect location can be tricky.

Here are some of the countries that could be the ideal option for you as an Indian student.

The USA

Higher education system

The USA is one of the most popular destinations for international students, including Indian pupils. Most universities and colleges in the US follow the liberal arts model, and you’ll study over four years as an undergraduate to complete a bachelor’s degree.

Typically you’ll spend the first two years of your studies developing a broad knowledge base, before focussing on your major subject in the final two years.

One of the big benefits of the US system is its flexibility. You can change your major after one or two years, and you’ll have opportunities to study other ‘minor’ subjects to broaden your knowledge.

Cost

The USA is one of the most expensive countries for international students, with annual tuition fees typically varying between $25,000 and $35,000.

Living costs can also be much higher than you’re used to in India. For example, groceries are nearly three times more expensive in New York compared to Delhi, and rent is an eye-watering 1000% higher.

Tuition and living costs will vary based on things like the state and city you want to study in, and the size and quality of university you choose.

Indian community

The USA has a vibrant Indian American population. There are more than four million Indian Americans living in the US, making up just over one percent of the population.

If you want to live in an area with a strong Indian community to help you feel more at home, here are the top five states:

State Indian American population
1. California 815,000
2. Texas 475,000
3. New Jersey 387,000
4. New York 380,000
5. Illinois 256,000

Job prospects

The USA is known as the land of opportunity, and job opportunities in nearly every sector can be found somewhere. However, the process of finding a job is more tricky when you’re an international student.

If you have an F-1 study visa, you’ll be able to work on-campus during your studies. You can work for up to 20 hours per week during term time or full time during the holidays.

After graduation, you’re able to do one year of practical training under your F-1 visa. If you’re looking for full-time employment in the USA, you’ll need a work visa.

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Australia

Higher education system

University courses in Australia follow a similar system to many other countries. Bachelor’s programs usually last three years, with the option of a fourth ‘honors’ year. Master’s programs are one or two years in length and can be coursework or research-based.

The academic year is split into two ‘sessions’, and the year starts in February or early March. The end of the school year is usually in December before the Christmas break.

Cost

University tuition fees in Australia can vary a lot depending on where you choose to study. You can expect to pay between AU$20,000 and AU$40,000 a year for an undergraduate degree, or up to AU$50,000 for a master’s program.

Living costs can be high in Australia, and a lot more than you’re probably used to in India. If you want to study in one of the major cities like Sydney or Brisbane, you will need to budget around AU$15,000 per year for things like accommodation, food, and living expenses.

Indian community

There are nearly 620,000 people living in Australia of Indian origin, which is nearly 3% of the total population. So if you’re looking to study in an area with a large Indian community in Australia, you’ll have plenty to choose from.

The states with the largest number of Indian born residents include:

  • New South Wales
  • Victoria
  • Western Australia

Job prospects

Australia has countless fantastic career opportunities, but there’s a lot of competition for the top jobs. By studying in the country you’ll be in a good position to find work after graduation, but you’ll still need the right visa.

You’ll need a subclass-500 visa to study in Australia, and this also allows you to work for up to 40 hours a fortnight during term time. After graduation, you’ll need at least a temporary graduate visa (subclass-485) to start looking for jobs, however these are not always easy to get.

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Canada

Higher education system

Canada is a bilingual country, with French and English are widely spoken across the country and in universities. That means it’s possible to study in French as well as English, and by studying in Canada you’ll get the chance to improve your skills in two languages.

The higher education system follows a familiar structure, with most universities offering programs at bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral levels. It’s also possible to study shorter courses like diploma and certificate programs.

Cost

For international students, the average annual cost of tuition at universities in Canada is around CA$30,000, but it is possible to study for less. On the whole, studying in Canada can be cheaper than in the USA or the UK.

Living costs vary across Canada, but again you can expect to spend more on things like accommodation, food, and entertainment than at home in India. For example, the cost of groceries in Vancouver is 60% more expensive than Mumbai.

Indian community

Canadians with Indian ancestry, often known as Indo-Canadians, are common across the country. As of 2016, the Indo-Canadian population was nearly 1.4 million.

If you’d like to study in a Canadian city that has a healthy Indian population and community, here are the top five destinations:

City % Indo-Canadian population
1. Abbotsford 18.9%
2. Toronto 10.4%
3. Vancouver 10%
4. Calgary 6.5%
5. Edmonton 5.5%

Job prospects

Under the terms of your Canadian student visa, you’ll be able to work for up to 20 hours per week during term, or full time during the holidays.

If you want to take advantage of Canada’s incredible job opportunities, you can get a temporary post-graduation work permit to gain valuable work experience. If you’re looking to immigrate to Canada permanently, you’ll need to apply for Express Entry.

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The UK

Higher education system

The UK has one of the world’s most famous higher education systems and is home to some of the best universities.

In the UK you can study pretty much any subject you can think of, at a range of levels including diploma, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral. Undergraduate degrees can take between one and four years to complete, master’s usually take one or two years, and a PhD can last up to six years.

Cost

In the UK, all domestic students pay the same tuition, no matter the university, however, international student fees can vary quite a bit.

At undergraduate level, annual fees can range from around £10,000 to more than £30,000. Postgraduate degrees can be more affordable, but some can rise to more than £35,000 per year.

How much you’ll need for living costs will depend on where you choose to study. London, for example, is one the world’s most expensive cities, but areas further north in the country can be considerably cheaper.

Indian community

British Indians are the single largest visible ethnic minority in the UK, with a population of 1.4 million. There are plenty of towns and cities in the UK with vibrant Indian communities - here are five you might consider:

  • London
  • Leicester
  • Wolverhampton
  • Slough

Job prospects

If you’re looking for a career after graduation, the UK has a lot to offer. Major cities like London, Manchester, and Birmingham are hotbeds for a range of industries.

As an international student you’ll be able to work during your studies for 20 hours per week under your Tier 4 student visa. This includes paid and voluntary work, but you can work full time during the holidays.

With a graduate route visa, you’ll be able to remain in the UK for up to two years after graduation. You won’t need a sponsor to get this visa, which means you can apply before you get your first job.

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