When Jyoti Lalwani, 23, decided she wanted to pursue a PR and digital marketing course abroad, the only reason she had in mind was the chance to live independently, and experience a new way of life in a foreign country. But there’s much more to a foreign education than that — becoming self-reliant is just one of them. Pratibha Jain, an education counsellor, says, “There are many points that make foreign education a worthwhile investment. One of the main points is that a student should look at studying abroad for the diversity of living and learning that comes with such an education. One spends time with students from around the world and this is the greatest form of learning.”
Ways of teaching, learning and assessment
There is a fundamental difference between foreign and Indian universities with regard to education. In India, greater emphasis is given to theory than practical knowledge. Agrees Jain, “At universities abroad, students are taught how to use theories in solving real world problems, unlike in India where emphasis is given to rote learning.” And this is not just limited to teaching, but also extends to the manner of assessments. “Universities abroad have continuous assessment and not just one exam, like in India, where the candidate’s future depends completely on it,” she adds. Assessment tools are different too. Marks are attached to quizzes, projects, class assignments, and students are encouraged to come up with new ideas and add a perspective to what they learn.
Cutting-edge research and sophisticated infrastructure
Universities in the west have always been known for their cutting-edge research facilities and a high level of infrastructure and this is one of the prime reasons for students opting for a foreign education. Akhil Daswani, a graduate of Northwestern University, with BA in Economics, swears by the infrastructure in his university. “Besides the brilliant research infrastructure available to us, we also had a fantastic campus of about 300 acres, the gymnasium inside the university was almost the size of a regular college in India, and even our lectures were technology driven in that we had a software interface, for instance, which would enable us to virtually attend classes we missed, and access facilities through the net etc.”
Global employment opportunities
Globalisation has enabled students to transcend boundaries and bag employment opportunities in various countries. “Having a stamp of foreign education on your resume makes a lot of difference, as you then get a chance to do internships and work full-time with multi- national companies,” says Daswani. MNCs, as has been observed, prefer hiring students who have moved out of their homes and had a foreign exposure and there are many reasons for this. Says Kanika Marwaha, India representative, University of Warwick, “Today all opportunities are global in nature and students can now be global citizens. They get to be recruited by global companies as they graduate with skills that make them employable in almost any part of the world.”
Independence teaches you self-reliance
Studying in a foreign location, all on your own, with nobody to do your vessels and cleaning, can get quite daunting at times, but it also teaches you some very important lessons and makes you self reliant. “I had a really tough time when I went to the UK for further studies, as I had to do everything on my own, from shopping for groceries and handling my finances to making food, but I quickly adapted to that lifestyle and now I’m much more independent and feel like I’ve grown up,” says Lalwani who graduated from University of Westminster, last year.
Cultural exchange with friends across the world
One of the advantages of a foreign education is that you meet a variety of people from different cultural backgrounds. This not only widens your horizons but also gives you a world view. Of course, this also means you can always visit them in their home countries after you graduate. Agrees Lalwani, “I would interact with students from countries such as Uganda, Kenya, USA, Germany, etc and we are still in touch.”
Higher salaries from leading companies
An individual who has a foreign exposure coupled with a degree from a well- known university abroad, is sure to get a enviable package from leading companies internationally, given that he is also good at his work, says Daswani. “If your resume says you’ve studied at a reputed foreign university and have worked at a well known MNC for sometime, your package increases substantially in comparison to your peers,” he adds. However, Marwaha begs to differ, “If a foreign educated student applies for work in India, there are little chances that he will earn more than his peers. I think the drawback of a foreign education is that the Indian market doesn’t significantly pay higher salaries.” However, often, the salary package is specific to the area of wok one chooses. Agrees Lalwani, “Some of my foreign educated friends who are in the media field, have got excellent starting salaries.”