Thinking about studying overseas?

Things to consider when considering studying abroad.

Thinking about studying overseas?

The appeal of overseas study may seem obvious – travel and adventure, new cultures and friends, exciting foods and experiences, independence and, perhaps most importantly, a huge choice of schools and universities to choose from.

Before you rush in and book your flights, first ask yourself: ‘why do I want to study abroad in the first place?’

The expression ‘the grass is always greener on the other side’ can apply to overseas study – if you can find the same course in your home country, why go far away to study and spend more money to do so? While that’s no reason not to study abroad – maybe you want the overseas life experience – it helps to be honest with yourself, to trust your motivations.

Whatever the reason you choose to study overseas, there are a few things to consider first.

Think before you fly!

Choosing where to go need not be daunting or any different from how you would choose a school at home, says Will Breare-Hall, student recruitment and study abroad manager at the London School of Economics and Political Science. ‘Many of the considerations remain the same – for instance, location (campus or city centre); size; academic courses; style of teaching and assessment; cost/financial support; social life; and graduate opportunities.

'The additional factors to weigh in the decision-making process are language requirements, cultural challenges, distance from home (friends and family), and the recognition of an overseas qualification in their home country or elsewhere.’

ACCA real story

Maria Metheniti FCCA is a financial control and reporting manager at NatWest Group in Edinburgh, Scotland. She had left Greece to study in Edinburgh 10 years previously when we interviewed her. She had studied an MSc in Accounting and Finance and the things she considered when choosing an institution included: business school rankings; cost of tuition fees; IELTS and other English verification certificates (ie Proficiency of English by the University of Cambridge); the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMTA), which is required by some business schools; exchange rates; and availability of rooms at the university’s halls of residence.

‘I also considered an admin and research planning horizon of around 18–24 months, as you normally need to apply roughly one year prior to the commencement of the academic degree to secure a place,’ she says. ‘I considered budget constraints for years of study, including tuition fees, accommodation fees and basic costs of living.’

Lastly, and perhaps more excitingly, she considered the natural beauty and safety of a city. ‘My final choice was studying either in Manchester or Edinburgh,’ she says. ‘I chose Edinburgh, the Athens of the North.’

‘As students are rarely in a position to visit all the institutions they are considering, it is advisable that they do as much research about the location, the institution and the academic content of their choices as possible,’ says Breare-Hall. ‘University websites are a great source of information, but this should be supplemented by reference to third-party organisations, such as the British Council, and by conversations with alumni. While the first weeks and months that a student spends at an institution overseas are frequently daunting, the process of acclimatisation can be made much easier if they arrive well informed and with their eyes open.’

ACCA real story

Uche Adiele ACCA, originally from Nigeria, is now a manager for financial planning and analysis at Aurinia Pharmaceuticals and adjunct lecturer at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary. He graduated from the 2021 Master of Management Analytics (MMA) programme at Smith School of Business at Queen’s University in Toronto. When researching the course, his primary focus was the relevance of the programme to his career path and the modern world of business.

‘It didn't make much sense to do a master's in finance or accounting after achieving ACCA and the Canadian CPA,’ he says. ‘I explored my options and noted the overwhelming need for analytics and that there are few people with a finance background who have such skills. So I chose the MMA.

‘My advice is to do your research and check for viable programmes that will make you relevant in the next decade. Also, check the viability of the programme in the country where you reside or plan to reside afterwards. Studying is an investment (both cash and time), so you must be confident of eventual return before taking the plunge.’

students sitting on grass studying

Do your research

Thanks to the internet there’s a lot of research that can be done from home – e.g. relevant qualifications, locations and schools. This will be invaluable, as visiting prospective overseas institutions can be unaffordable and impractical for most.

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