United States of America

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United States of America as a Study Destination

United States of America, the greenest shore for studying abroad, offers a vast number of academic options and it is always possible to find the one program that is a perfect match for your interests. In 2012-2013 session, 819,644 students were in the US for their education. Of these the second biggest share was of Indian students, a whopping total of 194,029. With vast number of academic options, a student can focus on a rather narrow area of a discipline or study a varied group of subjects – as per one’s requirements. The variety, flexibility and quality of an American education are the factors that draw students to the US in large numbers from everywhere.

Also, keep in mind that not all universities are good. Go through university ranking on US News, Times Higher Education or The Guardian. And always find out about the university’s credentials from its website or the educational counsellor. Sourcing information from reliable sources is cru­cial, as both money and life can be at stake. Also check certain reliable search engines for college search such as College Board, etc

Types of Educational Institutions in the US – There are nearly 6,000 postsecondary career and technical schools, and about 4,000 degree-granting institutions of higher education in the United States. To keep matters simple, we have classified them according to the highest degree/diploma they award.

Community and Junior Colleges

Community colleges provide a variety of educational services, ranging from adult and community education services, through post secondary career and technical education, to academic and professional studies at the university level permitting transfer to higher level studies such as the bachelor’s degree. Most such colleges offer Associate degrees. Almost all of them have transfer arrangements with local public and private colleges and universities (called articulation agreements) that permit students who have completed approved courses of study to transfer to bachelor’s level studies with up to 2 years of academic credit. Of late, some community colleges have begun to offer accredited bachelor’s degree programs as well.

Colleges and Universities

Institutions that offer the bachelor’s and higher degrees are often called ‘senior’ colleges or universities. These may be single campus institutions, multi-cam­pus institutions or systems comprising several independent institutions.

The academic calendar in the US begins normally in August or September. It is generally divided into 2 semesters:  Fall semester – August/September through December.

      Spring or Winter Semester – January through May.

May through August is the time when colleges close for summer. In this period also, students are able to take classes as they are offered in many schools. Each academic semester is of generally 14 weeks’ duration. The more selective programs offer admission only once a year, i.e., at the start of the academic year – the Fall semester! Often scholar­ship and funding decisions are also made in Fall for the entire year.

LEVELS OF EDUCATION

The United States offers the following types of degrees.

The Associate Degree

The Associate degree is the first aca­demic or professional degree that can be awarded in US post secondary educa­tion. Holders of this degree may apply to enter higher degree programmes at the Bachelor’s level, but are not qualified to apply directly for advanced (graduate) studies programmes. This degree is an award that requires the completion of an organized program of study of at least 2 but less than 4 years of full-time academic study. Most associate degrees earned in academic programs are Associate of Arts (AA) or Science (AS) degrees; those earned in professional, technical or terminal programs are frequently called Associate of Applied Science (AAS) degrees.

Bachelor’s Degrees

The Bachelor’s degree in the US requires the completion of four to five years of full-time equivalent college level work. However, many degrees take longer to complete, including those in architec­ture and other fields; and given the struc­ture of academic programs of study, a bachelor’s degree may be achieved in less than 4 years by highly qualified and motivated students.

The undergraduate degree pro­grams usually include requirements for breadth as well as depth of study, and students will fulfill what are called liberal or general studies requirements for introductory knowledge in several subjects as well as a concentration in one or more subjects, called a “major.”

Master’s Degree

The Master’s Degree is the first gradu­ate-level qualification in the US higher education system. These degrees gen­erally take two years to complete, but the time period may be shorter or long­er depending on how the degree program is structured (12-month versus 9-month academic years, for example), whether the student is enrolled full-time or part-time, the degree requirements and the prior preparation of the student

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and its equivalent titles, represent the highest academic qualification in the US educa­tion system. The degree is awarded after the student has fulfilled the preliminary advanced study that leads to doctoral candidacy and successfully completed and defended the independent research presented in the form of the doctoral dissertation (thesis).

International students in the US from 2001/02 through 2008/09

In 2000/01 there was a surge in enrol­ments from India, with an increase of 30%, followed by two more years of strong growth (12% in 2002/03 and 7% in 2003/04). The increases tapered off in 2004/05 and then decreased slightly in 2005/06, before resuming much larg­er in 2006/07 and for the next two years. In 2009/10, the increases leveled off, and China became the top sender and remains in that position. Students from India make up approximately 13.1% of the total foreign student population in the United States. In the 2011/12 academic year, 100,270 students from India were studying in the United States (down 3.5% from the previous year). India is the second lead­ing place of origin for students coming to the United States.

Academic Qualifications needed for admission

For admission to postgraduate programs, : Universities expect students to hold undergraduate degree that would admit you to higher education in your own country plus scores on an aptitude test – GRE or GMAT.

Postgraduate (MS) admissions criteria

The post-graduate admissions process relies on a number of factors but the basic criteria used to evaluate students are:

  • Academic potential and performance – as evidenced by the student’s GPA, class rank and marks, the rigor of the program pursued and the reputation of the school.
  • Strengths and weaknesses as represented by the applicant’s participation in extra-curricular activities
  • Inclination and potential for higher studies, academics and research.
  • Performance in standardized admissions tests administered to students globally

The first three factors are rather subjective as they represent great diversity – courses and grading standards vary from university to university and region to region.

Standardized Tests required for admission

Often it is the scores on standardized tests (GRE) that help colleges compare the aca­demic achievements of students from different schools in different educational systems; many US schools use these test scores to sift through the thousands of applications and then start reviewing applications in detail. Hence, it is very important to score very well in these standardized tests. In some schools, the scores are also used after the admissions process to place students in classes.

Indian students are ESL (English as Secondary Language) students, so they need prove their ability in English language and have to take English proficiency tests such as TOEFL, IELTS and PTEA. However, there are schools that may accept other indicators of your English and analytical proficiency, such as certain scores on the:

English Language Proficiency Test (ELPT)

Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE)

Certificate in Advanced English (CAE)

Michigan English Language Assess­ment Battery (MELAB)

Advanced Placement International English Language test (APIEL)

At times, some schools may even waive the need for English proficiency tests, if you ask them for a waiver because you have done all your education with English as the medium for instruction in school.

What do colleges in the US look for in an applicant?

Specific colleges in the US may have dif­ferent admissions criteria but they are all ultimately seeking the same thing – a well-rounded, capable student – who will contribute to the university through his academic career in the university.

The first thing to know is that most US programs have a deadline by which you have to make your application for admission and generally, this deadline is at almost 10 months to a year before you hope to join the program. You are expected to have completed all testing requirements by the time your applica­tions are submitted. Hence, if desirous of a good US education start your prepara­tion at least two years ahead.

Keep in mind that your application is your marketing tool, so presentation is very important. You will not get the opportunity to convey your strengths in person. Hence, make the best impres­sion through excellently packaged infor­mation that highlights your strengths and camouflages your weaknesses.

There is no single most important cri­terion for admission. The decision is made on the basis of your entire packet – previous academic background, test scores, work experience and essays, all of which together are meant to give the admissions committee an overview of your capabilities, interest, and accom­plishments. While requirements vary from university to university, organization of thought, legibility and vocabulary are very important.

General components of an appli­cation package:

  1. Cover letter
  2. Checklist of documents
  3. Application fee – DD/Bank check for Application fee (If you have not paid the application fee online)
  4. Application form: Most schools require an online application now. While your application can be sub­mitted online instantaneously, you need to have send the rest of the documents like transcripts, letters of recommendation etc. through cou­rier. The timing has to be such that they receive the packet and applica­tion before the deadline.
  5. Résumé
  6. SOP (Statement of Purpose): This is a very important part of your application as it gives you the opportunity to write whatever you wish. An SOP is to be used to convince the admission committee that if you are selected then both , you and the university will be benefitted. So be judicious! Strictly adhere to the given topic and keep it simple. Don’t repeat information from other parts of your application. Repetitions are indeed boring! Keep in mind that bad English prose and grammatical errors put readers off. Stick to the word limit.
  7. Transcripts: Applicants are required to submit official records from each academic institution attended. Offi­cial records are original documents issued by the institution that bear the actual signature of the registrar in ink and the seal of the issuing insti­tution. Certified copies and nota­rized documents are not acceptable. To be considered as official transcripts, some schools request that these docu­ments be sent directly to them from the issuing institution. Grades must not be converted to a US scale. Some MS programs do not require transcripts immediately but ask for them later.
  8. GRE Test scores
  9. Letters of recommendation: Recom­mendations are used to support and reinforce the rest of your applica­tion. This information from your recommendation needs to match up with the information you have pro­vided. Negative recommendations can invalidate your claim. Do not take letters of recommendation from a relative or a friend. Take it from someone like a teacher or supervisor who can comment on your potential and highlight your achievements.
  10. WES Evaluation(If the university requires) World Education Service (WES) is an agency which evaluated foreign credentials to match with US 4 point grading system. This article talks about Documents required for WES Evaluation, process and fee details.
  11. Proof of finance: Affidavit of Support from sponsor and Bank Statement

Costs associated with Studying in the US

The cost is divided into tuition and living expenses. A US education is rather expensive and there is great variation in the costs between different schools. Also, there are only a few scholarships avail­able. Since the competition to get into top schools is immense, there are almost no scholarships (which are merit-based) available for international students. The top and many other schools allow you to apply for financial aid which is need-based.

Need-based aid is of two types – apply­ing for one does adversely impact your chances of admission if you are an inter­national student. Stanford states clearly that if you are an international student and are applying for financial aid, it will have no impact on your admission. Then there are a few, read very few, schools which are said to be need-blind. Har­vard and MIT fall in this category. Your request for aid is treated separately and hence your admission decision is based totally on the credentials you present and your competition.

But there’s tough competition for all types of financial aid. The student should request financial aid information from the university at the initial stage of the application. One has to read very carefully the instructions and informa­tion related to financial aid. The student has to make it clear to the university that he/she is applying for financial aid while filling out the application forms for admission. The criteria for select­ing applicants for the different forms of financial aid vary

Working while studying

The student visa does not allow students to work except for very limited hours on campus. Students are allowed to work 20 hours a week The minimum wage is between $ 7 to 8 an hour which isn’t enough to manage living expenses, as the cost of living is anywhere between $10,000-30,000 a year, approximately $ 840 – 2,500 a month. However, places such as Texas, Ohio, Georgia, Iowa are comparatively cheaper places to live in. But you cannot work off campus unlike in other countries such as the UK, Cana­da and Australia. But there is a provision for Curricular Practical Training (CPT) for some students.

CPT is an employment option avail­able to F-1 students (academic students) where the practical training employ­ment is considered to be an integral part of the curriculum or academic pro­gram. According to the immigration regulations, this employment may be an internship, cooperative education job, or any other work experience that is either required for the degree (as defined in the course catalogue) or for which academic credit is awarded.

Many US universities offer partial to full funding to outstanding students. Need-based schol­arships, merit-based scholarships and sports scholarships would be some of the options for undergraduate students.

Employment opportunities after studies

Students completing degree pro­grams can go for Optional Practical Training (OPT) for 12 months. OPT has been increased from 12 to 29 months for qualified F-1 non-immigrant students in the field of Science, Technology, Engi­neering, or Mathematics. But if you are a History student then chances of getting an OPT are few. And, of course, there’s no denying that companies across the globe recognize a US college degree.

VISA REQUIREMENTS

Foreign citizens who wish to study or participate in an exchange program in the US need to apply for a non-immi­grant visa. The offer of admission to an accredited program in the US does not guarantee a student visa! The dread­ed visa interview has to be taken.

A non-immigrant is someone admit­ted to the US temporarily for a specific purpose; who fully intends to return to the host country upon completion of that purpose.

The United States issues different types of visas to non-immigrants. Stu­dents heading to the United States to pursue full-time academic studies are usually admitted in the F-1 category that includes academic students in colleges, universities, seminaries, conservatories, academic high schools, other academic institutions, and in language training. People who will be participating in an exchange visitor programme in the United States need to apply for the F1 visa. Students, who want to study or train at nonacademic institutions such as vocational schools, need to apply for an M-visa. The F-1 visa is the focus of this article.

As per the Immigration and National­ity Act, US law requires consular offic­ers to view every visa applicant as an intended immigrant until the applicant proves otherwise. The onus of proving that you are a bona fide student and plan to return to your country upon com­pletion of the program lies on you during the interview. All F-1 applicants have to appear for an interview as they are required to submit two electronic fingerprint impressions.

The Immigration and Nationality Act defines the F-1 non-immigrant alien as one who has not abandoned his resi­dence in a foreign country and who is a bona fide student coming temporarily and solely to the United States to pursue a course of study at a recognized institu­tion of education.

You are not allowed to take anyone with you for the interview. The officer who interviews you is highly trained and has at his or her disposal only the facts that you furnish. No one can read your mind or guess your intent so it is criti­cal that you be alert and answer ques­tions with confidence and support your assertions with appropriate documents. However, it is not the documents that will get you a visa. More emphasis is paid on what and how you answer questions rather than any papers that you are car­rying. Documents are to support your statements. During the interview, you must be prepared to demonstrate:

Academic preparation for the pro­gram of your choice. This is dem­onstrated by the relevance of your preparation to the course you would be pursuing in the US and by taking the tests that different US academic programs require. You may be asked questions on why you selected a particular college, comparison with other colleges where you have been selected, have  you talked to alumni, present students, teachers, etc.

Your financial capability to pay for your academic and other expenses in the US for the entire length of the proposed study. The consular officer requires credible documentary evi­dence of readily available funds to defray all expenses. A US education is rather expensive so you must be prepared to explain how you will pay for the same.

Evidence of English Proficiency. This is mostly done by taking the TOEFL. However, of late, many institutions have started waiving this requirement for Indian students who demonstrate this proficiency through their marks.

Your ties (professional, financial, social) to India; your long-term career goals and how education in the United States will help you in pursuing the same, will help in establishing cre­dentials. You will generally be spend­ing a lot of money for this education especially in comparison to pursuing the same degree in India. You will be required to justify why this education is so critical.

Also, because each student’s personal and academic situation is different; two students applying for same visa may be asked different questions and for differ­ent documents. Your visa interview will typically last for five minutes but can go up to 15 minutes! Be forthcoming in the interview. Don’t try to give evasive answers, which will only help to hurt your chances.

May, June, July, and August are the busiest months in most consular sec­tions. So begin early and be prepared.

HOW DO I APPLY FOR A STUDENT VISA?

VFS Global manages the administrative function of the visa application process and the first step is to log into their web-site at https://www.vfs-usa.co.in/.

Decide on the school you wish to attend and ask the school to issue an USCIS Form 1-20. An admission let­ter cannot be substituted for the 1-20.

Determine your consular district where you need to take your interview

Obtain a photo that can be uploaded and meets form specifications.

Access the form DS-160 and complete this application online. Save often to your desktop!

Print the DS-160 barcode confirma­tion sheet at the end of the DS-160 application on a laser printer.

Pay the SEWS fee

Pay the visa application fee at an approved HDFC bank. Make your appointment online using your bar-code number and fee receipt. Then, download and print your VFS appointment letter. Report for your interview at the United States Embas­sy or Consulate fifteen minutes before your appointment.

WHAT DOCUMENTS DO I NEED FOR THE VISA INTERVIEW?

Your passport (and your old passports)

Your application photo

The DS-160 barcode page (you will not need the full application)

Form 1-120

The HDFC visa application fee receipts and SEWS fee receipt

VFS appointment letter +

United Kingdom as a Study Destination

Each year, thousands of inter­national students visit the UK , for higher studies where a huge number of degree courses are available. Studying for a Brit­ish qualification is a sound, long-term investment. There is great value in liv­ing and studying there. You can use it to improve career prospects, get a job right there and make new friends and contacts.

If you are an graduate, there are scores of courses you can choose from. Or you might prefer to study for a UK degree in your own country, as some twinning programs are available here. Half the joy of studying is the chance to meet and mix with fellow students. So, here you can find out about student life, how much it costs and whether you will be able to work to support yourself.

The UK education system

It’s important to understand the system properly. In the UK after completing secondary education, the student begins with higher education, which is classi­fied into two ‑ Non-University level or post second­ary studies and University level studies. Non-University level leads to diploma and vocational qualifications. There are about 30 educational bodies that offer diploma and vocational degrees to the students. At University-level studies, there are four stages namely, University-level first stage, second stage, third stage and fourth stage.

  1. The first stage has Bachelor’s degree in Arts, Science and Technology, Law etc. It lasts for three or four years.
  2. The second stage consists of two years and students pursue Master’s Degree program after completing a Bachelor’s.
  3. The third stage has two years and it is an extended study of Master’s program like M.Phil degree.
  4. The fourth stage of the UK education system includes PhD degree where candidates present thesis on their subject.

Undergraduate study and degrees

The broad range and flexible approach of the British education system means that you’re free to choose exactly what you want to study. You can enroll in a Bachelor’s degree from the beginning, or you can start by taking a two-year HND or founda­tion degree and then top up to a degree afterwards. You can study a single honors degree and focus entirely on one subject, or study two subjects in a joint honors or combined honors degree – You just have to choose an option you like. Find out about the sorts of things you will need to know before you embark on a course in the United Kingdom.

Full-time undergraduate courses in the UK vary from one year to four years depending on the type of course you choose:

HNC: one year

HND, Foundation degree,

Dip HE: two years; three with a year in industry/overseas

Bachelor’s degree: three years (four in Scotland); four with a year in industry

Master’s degree (where these are awarded as a first degree): four years.

The courses:

Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Diploma (HND)

Higher national certificates and diplo­mas are one- and two-year career-relat­ed higher education courses, equivalent to the first stages of a degree. They are available in many areas including Engi­neering, Sports studies, Art and Design, Media and Communications and Music Technology. On successful completion you can enter a career at junior manage­ment level or can choose to ‘top-up’ to a degree by transferring to the second or third year of the degree course. Look for HNC/HND courses in the course finder.

Foundation Degrees (FdA, FdSc, etc.)

Foundation degrees are two-year career-related higher education courses, which are equivalent to the first stages of a degree. They are available in areas including Art and Design, Media and Communications, Engineering and Hospitality Management. They can be used as a good foundation for a career or as a basis to progress on to a degree course.

Diplomas of Higher Education

Diplomas of Higher Education are two-year courses in subject areas usually related to the Social Sciences, such as Education, Theology, Communication Studies and Social Work. They are ideal for students hoping to progress to a career in these areas and also provide a foundation for higher education courses in the same subject area.

Degrees

Degrees are the most popular under­graduate qualification in the UK. They are academic courses, usually studied over three years in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, or four years in Scot­land (where the title master’s degree may be awarded). Some degree courses may be extended for a year to enable students to spend time in industry or overseas.

University International Founda­tion Year

University International Foundation Year courses help to bridge any gaps between qualifications you hold already and the ones you need to begin a degree course at a UK university. This could be because you need to develop your English language skills, improve on your academic qualifications, or both.

Entry requirements

There are many different entry requirements depending on your chosen type of UK study. The great thing about studying in the United Kingdom is that even if you don’t meet the requirements for one course, you can choose another at a different level and work your way up. The country offers a range of flexible study options to suit international students at all levels. Find out how to apply on the Education UK website, which includes information about courses at all univer­sities in the UK.

For undergraduate study

The qualifications you need depend on the course you want to study. You should have completed at least 13 years of edu­cation in your own country or in the UK, and have taken pre-university qualifica­tions equivalent to UK A-levels, Scottish Highers or National Diplomas. If you haven’t got these qualifications yet don’t worry – you can still study in the UK. Examples of qualifications required:

  • Higher National Diploma (HND) – qualifications equivalent to one or two UK A-levels, two Scottish Highers or a Higher National Certificate or BTEC National Diploma; or an international foundation year. Plus IELTS 5.5-6.0
  • Foundation Degree – qualifications equivalent to one or two UK A-lev­els, one or two Scottish Highers or a National Diploma; or an international foundation year. Plus IELTS 5.5-6.0
  • Diploma of Higher Education – quali­fications equivalent to one or two UK A-levels, two or three Scottish High­ers or a National Diploma; or an inter­national foundation year. Plus IELTS 5.5-6.0
  • Degree – qualifications equivalent to two or three UK A-levels, three or four Scottish Highers, an HND or Diploma, or BTEC National Diploma; or an international foundation year. Plus IELTS 6.0-6.5

For UK independent schools

To apply to an independent school, you’ll need to have a good standard of education from your own country. You won’t be expected to have passed formal qualifications but may be asked to sit the school’s own entrance exam in sub­jects such as English and maths. Some schools may ask students to sit entrance exams in both the subjects. The com­mon entrance exam is also used by many schools for students who enter at the age of 13.

For career-based and pre-univer­sity study

The qualifications you’ll need will depend on the course you want to study. Some qualifications (such as A-levels Scottish Highers and BTEC National Diplomas) are below university level and lead directly on to higher education. Others (such as HNDs and foundation degrees) are university-level qualifica­tions that enable you to join a degree course in the second or third year.

Qualifications required:

  • BTEC National Diploma – good gen­eral high school education equiva­lent to four GCSEs grades A -C, plus IELTS 4.5-5.0
  • AS/A-levels – good general high school education equivalent to five GCSEs grades A -C, plus IELTS 4.5- 5.0
  • Scottish Highers/Advanced Highers – Good general high school equivalent to six Standard Grade qualifications grades 1-3, plus IELTS 4.5-5.0
  • International Foundation Year twelve years of school education or equivalent in your own country, plus IELTS 4.5-5.0
  • HND – qualifications equivalent to one or two UK A-levels, two or three Scottish Highers or a BTEC National Diploma or an international founda­tion year, plus IELTS 5.5-6.0
  • Foundation Degree – qualifications equivalent to one or two UK A-levels, two or three Scottish Highers or a BTEC National Diploma or an inter­national foundation year, plus IELTS 5.5-6.0

Improving your English language skills

You will need a good understanding of English before you can study at most fur­ther and higher education institutions in the UK. Studying an English lan­guage course in the UK, such as English for academic purposes (EAP) or a pre-sessional course, will prepare you for further study. You can search for these and other English language courses in the course finder.

Another option is to take an English test such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) in your home country before you come to the UK. The IELTS is the world’s leading English test of its kind, testing the four language skills: listening, read­ing, writing and speaking. Over 1,000 UK institutions recognize the IELTS and it is available in over 125 different countries.

You can find out where your nearest IELTS test centre is at the IELTS web-site. You could also take the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Aca­demic), which is administered online at Pearson testing centers. The test is recognized by more than 100 institu­tions in the UK and accurately measures the English language listening, reading, speaking and writing abilities of non­native speakers. You can find out more and prepare for the test at the PTE Aca­demic website.

Tuition and cost of living

‘Studying in the UK can cost less than you think. The course fees you pay include all the benefits that UK study brings – better English, work experi¬ence, developing career-relevant skills, living in a culturally diverse society, and making new friends and contacts. A UK education is a unique experience that you can’t put a price on.

The accommodation or living cost in UK would cost you £6,600 per year. This is the minimum fund you require to study in the UK for the first year.

It also includes your other bills and food etc. There are various options available for accommodation for international students. Most of the Uni­versities give rooms for rent to interna­tional students or you could also take a private accommodation. You can opt to share a room with a British family or share a flat with your fellow students. Generally students prefer to share an apartment with other international stu­dents; it costs them cheaper and is more convenient.

International student course fees vary depending on what you are going to study in the UK and for how long.

We’ve put together some information on the average cost for each type of UK course (please note: these are indicative costs only – you should check with institutions directly for their exact fees):

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Your UK course fees don’t just cover lectures, seminars and practicals. You’ll also have access to: college libraries and data archives extensive research resources modern computer facilities science and practical laboratories workshops equipped with state-of-the-art equipment fantastic sports facilities personal tutors and experienced, pro­fessional support services leading thinkers, practitioners, academics and researchers music rooms, film and drama studios, animation suites and other creative facilities

Working while you are studying in the UK

If you are allowed to work during your time at university, you can easily find out about part-time jobs by consulting notice boards around campus, looking in local newspapers and job centres, or going along to your college or university careers office. Many universities have their own job centres which put up part-time and holiday vacancies.

Your university or college careers ser­vice can also provide you with infor­mation and advice about employment, training and further study, and help you with job-hunting and making applications. ‘You can make your UK study experi­ence work even harder for your future by gaining some valuable work experience. Getting a job while you study in the UK can improve your language skills and enhance your CV. Your future employer will be looking for smart, creative, team-orientated people – working and study­ing in the UK could make you the perfect candidate. Before taking on a job, you need to check whether are entitled to work and how many hours you can work each week. For more information, visit the UKBA website.

Your place of study in the UK will have a careers service to help connect you to the world of work. They will provide a wide range of help and support. They include:

  • access to job adverts
  • help with writing CVs and job applica­tions
  • tips on preparing for job interviews
  • Information about what it’s like to work in the UK.

They will also help you get firsthand experience of the workplace, consider career choices and make professional contacts. Many UK institutions also have partnerships with local employers who want students to work for them – so they understand that you’ll need flexibil­ity to work around your studies.

Financial assistance

There are many sources of funding available to you for studying in the UK – particularly if you are a postgraduate student. The British government and other UK organizations offer a range of international student scholarships and awards. We’ve put together some infor­mation below on the main UK schol­arship schemes for international post­graduate study – you can also search and apply for scholarships in the scholarship finder.

Some of the most popular financial awards are:

British Chevening Scholarships

The British Chevening Scholarship scheme aims to bring future leaders, decision-makers and opinion-formers to the UK for a period of postgraduate study. To be eligible, you should have a proven record of success and have the potential to rise to a position of power and influence in your chosen career. Chevening awards are given annually to students from a wide variety of coun­tries. They cover all or part of the cost of a one-year postgraduate course in the UK. Once you have completed the course, you will be expected to return to your home country.

Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan (CSFP)

The CSFP is aimed at Commonwealth citizens who can make a significant con­tribution to their home country after studying in the UK. If you are from a developing country in the Common­wealth, your chosen area of work is expected to contribute directly to devel­opment objectives. If you are from a developed Commonwealth country, you should have the potential to become a leader in your chosen profession. CSFP Scholarships are usually for between one and three years. They cover the cost of travel to and from the UK, tuition fees and living expenses. In some cases an allowance is paid to help with the cost of maintaining your spouse and family in the UK.

Professional Fellowship awards are typically for three months. They pro­vide opportunities for people working in developing Commonwealth countries to spend a short period of professional updating in the UK. Academic Staff Fel­lowships offer opportunities for a six-month period of postdoctoral research. These are available to Commonwealth citizens holding or returning to a teach­ing appointment in a university in the developing Commonwealth nation. Information on these and other fund­ing opportunities is available at the CSFP website.

The Commonwealth Shared Scholar­ship Scheme assists students from devel­oping Commonwealth countries who would benefit from higher education in the UK. If you are unable to study in the UK for financial constraints being the reasons and are outside the scope of other British government support schemes, you may be eligible.

Royal Society Fellowships

The Royal Society offers incoming fel­lowships for researchers from North America and Asia. The main aim is to attract outstanding postdoctoral scien­tists to undertake high-quality research at UK’s research laboratories. The fellowships are available for up to two years for postdoctoral researchers in the United States and Canada. And if you are from Asia, you are eligible up to one year. Indian students are also eligible to apply. The research pursued must relate to a subject under the ambit of natural sciences. Awards are not granted in the sphere of the social sciences or clinical medical research.

Scotland’s Saltire Scholarships

Under Scotland’s Saltire Scholarships scheme, 200 awards are available to postgraduate master’s students from Canada, China, India and the USA. This is part of the Scottish government’s con­tinuing support for the ‘brightest and best’ students to come and study in Scot­land.

The Saltire Scholarship scheme high­lights academic excellence in the Scot­tish university sector.

Visa Regulations

The fundamental thing to begin with your education abroad is applying for a visa. There are different digits-1types of visa, depending on age, and on the length and level of the course that you want to pursue.

To know more about applying for a stu­dent visitor, child visitor or prospective student visa, please visit the UK Border Agency (UKBA) website.

For adult and child student visas, the UK has a points-based visa system which is designed to be objective and transparent. To apply, you need to gain 40 points. This includes 30 points for a “confirmation of acceptance for studies” from the university, college or school where you want to study.

The place you select to study must be on the “register of sponsors” kept by the UKBA. This register gives you an assur­ance that the institute you are applying to is a bonafide study centre. Rest of the 10 points comes from dem­onstrating that you can afford to cover your fee and living cost at UK fully or at least partially. This has been put in place to help you to overcome any financial difficulties that might hamper your abil­ity to complete your studies in a foreign nation.

Important Tier 4 rule changes:

With effect from 12 August 2010, the United Kingdom Border Agency brought into force secure English lan­guage tests for students under Tier 4 (General) of the points-based system.

Under Tier-4 while a student applies for entry clearance, s/he is required to pass a points-based assessment and score 40 points in order to qualify for entry to study. The 40 points are split as follows:

  • 30 points for a Visa Letter issued by a licensed sponsor
  • 10 points for maintenance (money to cover fees and living expenses)

As far as the monetary requirements are concerned, the student must show a substantial fund to cover his or her first year’s tuition fees and monthly living expenditure for the first nine months’ stay. It is noteworthy that the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) rec­ognises that a student has to show one year’s tuition fee and living expenses for nine months, which is fixed. If it is in London, it is 7,200 pounds (approx Rs 5,73,000) and if it is outside London it is 5,400 pounds (approx Rs 4,29,624).

Under Tier 4, student visas are being granted to enable the student to enter the United Kingdom for the purposes of completing a course at a specified insti­tution. Transition from one course to another becomes a cakewalk for students without any alterations in the establish­ments and that too on the same applica­tion. However, changing the sponsor will require a fresh application. Also, student should have an unconditional offer from an institution in the UK, where s/he has secured an admission.

In addition to these measures, only the highly trusted sponsor category can provide higher risk courses at NQF level 3 and equivalent and work placement courses below degree level. This cat­egory of sponsors have been introduced recently. Chances of fraudulently issued offers can be curbed now once the visa letter has been replaced by an electronic facility called the Certificate of Accept­ance of Studies (CAS).

Canada as a Study Destination

Canada is most famous for its natural beauty. To many people in other countries, the word ‘Canada’ evokes images of wide-open spaces, dramatic mountains, pristine forests and majestic lakes. Canada is known as a modern, progressive nation with an open and tolerant society. It has a multicultural society with two official languages – English and French – and Canadians are proud of their diverse origins and ethnic diversity.

Canada is known as a modern, progres­sive nation with an open and tolerant society. It has a multicultural society with two official languages – English and French – and Canadians are proud of their diverse origins and ethnic diversity.

Canadians are widely regarded as hon­est, friendly, polite, well-educated, inter­esting and healthy. They enjoy a very high standard of living. In fact, Canada consistently ranks in the top three in the United Nations’ list of the best countries in which to live – having held the top spot eight times (UN Human Development Index, 1990- 2009).

Education System

In Canada, there is no federal or national department of education. Each province and territory has exclusive responsibil­ity for elementary, secondary and post­secondary education within its borders. Nonetheless, the Canadian education system is comprehensive and recognised internationally for its quality.

Colleges and Technical Institutes

University colleges also offer academi­cally-oriented undergraduate degrees as well as more practically oriented college degrees or diplomas. These institutions are very similar to TAFE colleges in Australia and generally tend to focus heavily on training and skills develop­ment through hands-on experience.

Some colleges offer transfer pro­grammes that enable participants to complete courses through the college and then later transfer to a university or university college, sometimes with credit towards their university degrees.

Canadian universities consistently appear in rankings of world class institu­tions. The Times 2010 World University Ranking placed 9 Canadian universi­ties in the top 200. Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s prestigious 2010 Academic Ranking of World Universities placed four Canadian institutions in its top 100.

Working while studying in Canada

Under certain conditions, you may be able to work in Canada. Students who do not have a study permit are not eligible to work in Canada.

Provided you hold a study permit, you can work on the campus of any publicly funded, degree granting institution that you are attending (no separate work permit is required). The employer can be the institution, the faculty, a student organisation, a private business or a pri­vate contractor providing services to the campus. This provision also allows for working as a graduate, research or teach­ing assistant at an ‘off campus site’ that has a formal affiliation with the institu­tion (e.g. teaching hospitals, clinics or research institutes).

Some full-time students who have obtained a study permit may also be eligible to apply for an off-campus work permit that allows them to work for any employer. They can work for up to 20 hours per week during the term, and full-time during holidays.

The following students are ineligible for off-campus work:

  • part-time students
  • visiting or exchange students
  • students who come to Canada under the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan or under the Govern­ment of Canada Awards Program
  • students enrolled in English as a Sec­ond Language or French as a Second Language programmes
  • students receiving funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA)
  • Students who have previously held an off-campus work permit and failed to maintain their eligibility or comply with the conditions of their work or study permit.
  • If you are a full-time student at a sec­ondary (high) school, you cannot work with a study permit.

For more information on working in Canada refer to :

  • cic.gc.ca/english/study/ work.asp
  • cic.gc.ca

Financial Assistance and Scholarships

There are a variety of programmes and funding available to non-Canadians looking to study in Canada. The first place to look for information is the International Scholarships web site – www.scholarships.gc.ca

For more information pertaining to specific scholarships, we encourage to contact the nearest Canadian embassy.The majority of Canadian universities offer some form of financial assistance for international students studying at the graduate level. This assistance may be in the form of:

  • teaching/department assistantships
  • research funds
  • university graduate scholarships
  • external scholarships
  • bursaries

The value of these awards will vary significantly and may differ by depart­ment as well as institution. For more information contact the institution you plan to attend. International students may also be eli­gible for Canadian government finan­cial assistance or external scholarships. Here are some specific examples:

Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar­ships: These doctoral scholarships are given to exceptional students. The scholar­ships are valued at C$50,000 per year for three years. This prestigious scholarship is on par with Rhodes and Fullbright Scholar­ships. For more info visit: www.vanier­cgs-bes.gc.ca

Banting Scholarships Program

Sauve Scholars Program

A unique, non-award, 8-month lead­ership programme based at McGill University in Montreal. The program provides access to all McGill courses, weekly seminars by leaders in politics, journalism, the arts, etc., as well as group excursions and a stipend of C$30,000. Applicants must be under 30 years of age, have demonstrated leadership potential and hold an undergraduate degree (in any discipline). www.sauvescholars.org

A listing of scholarships, bursaries and awards for students (not specifically for international students). www.scholarshipscanada.com or wvvvv.schoolfinder.com

For additional details about studying in Canada, consult these helpful online resources

www.accc.ca

www.destineducation.ca

www.scholarships.gc.ca

Take care of these warnings :

  1. Fake & Unaccredited Universities – Degrees or other qualifications from unaccredited institutions may not be accepted by civil service or other employers. Some unaccredited institutions have formal legal authorization to enroll students or issue degrees, but in some jurisdictions (notably including the United States) legal authorization to operate is not the same as educational accreditation. institutions (for example, some Bible colleges and seminaries) choose not to participate in the accreditation process because they view it as an infringement of their religious, academic, or political freedom. Some government jurisdictions exempt religious institutions from accreditation or other forms of government oversight. Still other institutions are not required to have accreditation. An institution may not maintain accreditation for one of several reasons. A new institution may not yet have attained accreditation, while a long-established institution may have lost accreditation due to financial difficulties or other factors.

Some unaccredited institutions are fraudulent diploma mills. Several unaccredited universities have names that are similar to those of accredited institutions or that falsely imply that an entity is a public university. For example, York University, California (Claims accreditation from World Association of Universities and Colleges, which is not recognized by the US Department of Education), but students may confuse York University with New York University as the names are pretty similar.

  1. Spurious Consultants – Fee-based consultants, some available entirely online, can be hired to help a student gain admission to the so-called right schools, although there are some free programs to help underprivileged youth learn how to fill out applications, write essays, get ready for tests, and work on interviews.Consultants can help a student select schools to apply to, counsel them on test taking strategies, review scores, help with essay preparation (but not writing), review applications, conduct mock interviews, provide logistical planning, and collaborate with others such as athletic coaches. Consultants try to keep a low profile; however, one admissions dean explained that she can “sniff out when there has been some adult involved in the process.” Assistance by consultants or other adults can go to extremes, particularly with hard-to-check variables such as the college essays; according to one view, plagiarism on admissions essays has been a “serious problem,” particularly on applications to private universities and colleges. There is the possibility that hiring a professional admissions consultant can make an application appear artificial; for example, admissions personnel may suspect adult coaching when one part of an application is polished, while other parts aren’t, such as varying quality regarding writing samples. Another risk in hiring a consultant, which can happen if parents become too involved in the process, is over-packaging: the applicant appears so smooth and perfect that admissions officers suspect the person is not real but a marketing creation. Generally, when hiring a college admissions counselor, parents and students try to understand the counselor’s philosophy, learn what services are provided, and whether any help will be offered regarding advice about financial aid or scholarships. It is improper for an admissions counselor to tamper with a student’s “authentic self.” According to their view, ideal counselors have experience with college admissions, meet regularly with college admissions officers, visit campuses regularly, and belong to professional affiliations.
  1. Actual Financial Requirements- The general pattern is that most colleges and universities, particularly private ones, have an artificially high and unreliable while charging most students a discounted price that varies considerably. Its much like “airline tickets” since “everybody pays a different fare”. Another report agreed: “Sticker price is the full price colleges list in their digits
  2.  brochures and on their websites. Net price is the price students actually pay. Net price accounts  for the fact that many students receive grants or scholarships. So it can be considerably lower than sticker price. ” Colleges use high sticker prices because it allows them wide latitude in how to use funds to attract the best students, as well as entice students with special skills or increase its overall racial or ethnic diversity. The most sought-after students can be enticed by high discounts while marginal students can be charged full freight. Further, the high sticker price is a marketing tool to suggest the overall worth of a college education, along the lines of encouraging people to think that “schools that cost more must provide a better education. Check the table to get a better idea of costs involved.

 

  1. The Program, The College, The University, The City , The Country – When you do your college search, keep in mind that you actually need to search and synchronize 5 things – Decide on merits and demerits of programs, colleges, universities, cities and countries before you zero in on a set of 10 to 15 matches and then you decide.
  1. Law of the Land – Respect the law of the land and actively seek more about it. Ask a senior from your country or some responsible school authority for things that you need to absolutely take care of.
  1. Passport – The golden two rules for your passport are “Don’t loose it” and “Keep it updated”. You can land into a lot of trouble in a foreign land if your passport is not in order or it does a disappearing act.

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