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Education Across the Seas


What countries should I consider? In the recent past, Indian students have explored undergraduate options mainly in the US, Canada, UK, Australia and Singapore. (Of these, Australia is no more as popular owing to the reported anti-Indian sentiment in the country). Each country’s education system comes with its own advantages, and also requires a different kind of preparation. In this article, we review the systems in the US, UK and Singapore. The system in Canada is quite similar to that in the US.

The undergraduate programme in the US typically lasts four years. Students can choose from a large number of universities and can also experiment with several subject combinations during the course of their studies. The application process involves filling out a form online, writing a statement of purpose and getting recommendation letters from teachers. There is no guarantee of admission even if your application is complete and submitted by the deadline. The evaluation comprises a comprehensive review of all materials submitted, and students hear from the university by email or post.

Some US colleges offer an option for students to apply ahead of the normal deadline. This is called “Early Admissions”. If the deadline for most colleges is end December, you would apply by around end-October if you apply early. If you secure an admission through this route, it is sometimes binding.

US’ neighbour Canada has a fair number of universities and colleges, some of which are quite reputed. Undergraduate programmes can be for three or four years. Canada is considered to be one of the safest countries in the world. Cost of education in Canada is lower than in the US. Average undergraduate university tuition for international students in Canada ranges from just under $4,000 to almost $19,000 a year.

Considering its colonial legacy, the Indian system maps quite closely with the system in the UK—the selection tends to focus more on academic performance. There are fewer colleges in the UK; some of the more prestigious ones are the Oxford and Cambridge Universities, Imperial College and the London School of Economics. One key attraction of studying in the UK is that the undergraduate programme is three years long, which means your child finishes his/her studies earlier, and your financial outlay may also be lower.

Closer home, Singapore is fast growing to be an Asian hub for higher education. It has three reputed public universities – National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University and the Singapore Management University (modelled after Wharton), as well as a growing number of specialist institutes and private universities. The Singapore universities have also established exchange programmes with US institutions, so students can get the best of both worlds. Here again, unsurprisingly, academic performance is critical for admissions and the courses are also reported to be quite rigorous.

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