Is it still worth studying abroad?

Students have been urged to take up the opportunity to study abroad as it not only introduces a new sense of liberty and independency but will also familiarise them with new cultures and life experiences. Such an experience will also enrich their education, allowing students to widen their perspectives, voice their opinions and discuss with new people. However, the education system was also affected by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, with universities closing their classrooms and lecture halls and taking them online, to minimise the spread of the virus. Therefore, it is important to ask whether the move to study abroad is still worth it – is it still worth all that investment.

There is no fixed cost as to studying abroad, with the amount varying depending on the country, the university, the course being read and its duration. Apart from university costs, you will need to cover other expenses, including food and accommodation. Research carried by the International Institute of Education showed that a semester at foreign universities cost an average of £13,000, whereas studying in the UK may cost between £6,000 and £15,000. Returning to the previous question, given that the academic experience within the university is taken away from the students, due to the pandemic, is it still worth putting all that money in?

Studying at home

Staying home has several advantages to it. Firstly, students don’t need to worry about flights and accommodation – they’re already there! Sure, studnets will have some costs to cover, but studying abroad is often more expensive than studying at your home university. Housing, groceries, tuition may also be cheaper than abroad. If they’re away, students may want to immerse themselves and get the full experience, and perhaps go out more than they would back home. Therefore, staying at home could be a good move to save money. In addition, staying at home will help avoid any insecurities as they will be already familiar with the place and most likely even the people. Students don’t need to adapt to a new educational system or to new cultures. They won’t need to go through the process of making new friends as they’ll still be close to them.

It goes without saying that choosing to stay home, students have homecooked food most of the days, and no one’s complaining about that! Pupils here won’t only be saving money by not buying the products but will also be enjoying a mouth-watering meal! So far, we’ve assumed that they still be living with the parents, however it’s not always the case. If the choice was not to move abroad, they will have the chance to choose whether to live with the parents or move into a student accommodation. Yes, it will add more costs, but it will still give a certain feel of independency. The bonus of such a decision is that the family will still be living close by.

Studying abroad

In contrast, studying abroad is likely to influence the education as it will offer a new style of learning – different from what they’re used to. After all, education is central to the move – it is the main reason for the move abroad. This could be an opportunity to study at one of the most prestige colleges in the world, so it’s not an opportunity to be missed. Stepping out from the comfort zone will help make the student a stronger person. It’s not just about studying in a foreign university, but it’s important to look at it holistically: it’s also a challenge – one that they can overcome and benefit from. Living in a new land could also lead to learning new languages, apart from learning more about different cultures, hence, conveying that there is so much more hidden curriculum behind such an experience. Moreover, studying abroad may boost your CV when you’re looking for a job. Some universities also offer work experiences to their students, which is something that they may also benefit from.

Still worth it?

Having briefly gone through aspects of both studying abroad and staying home, we can have a better say on whether the move to study abroad is still a worthy one. Having lessons online is definitely safer – the students are not a threat or threatened by the virus or crowded places. A survey by global education network QS highlighted that students postponed their study abroad by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, hinting at the main feeling towards the big investment. The United States, United Kingdom, China, Canada and Australia have the most sought schools in the world, but a number of the 5.3 million students who are interested in studying abroad are holding back. Ahead of the move, universities make contact with the interested students for online tours and webinars.

The general consensus was that online learning is as rewarding as in-class learning. Students need to pay attention and do more work on their own – but that isn’t much different from studying on campus. The previously discussed points showed that there is much more than learning to studying abroad. Professor Hamish Coates, from Tsinghua University’s Institute of Education noted, “Online learning is very functional. It can help students access materials, but some students behave very differently online than they do in the classroom. And it doesn’t necessarily lead to those really important forms of transformation and development that we expect, particularly at the very top end of our professional fields, and that’s where higher education is most special.”

In addition, QS CEO, Nunzio Quacquarelli explained, “The reality is that delivering a really high quality and engaging online education isn’t necessarily much cheaper than the cost of delivering a campus-based programme.” He continued, “The issue isn’t so much the price of higher education because by any measure, even when it’s completely overpriced, it returns enormous value to the person who partakes in it.” Universities have responded to this by creating incentives to encourage students to enrol to their programmes. A number of Australian universities are offering scholarships up of 20%-30% of the entire tuition fees to attract more foreign students take up their online classes. Whether to study abroad or not will remain to be your decision, but as Boston University’s Humphrey Fellowship program director of Strategic Communications, Melody Stratton advised, “Don’t be afraid of the external circumstances surrounding you. This teaches resilience. Despite the COVID situation, despite the program not being in person as I would have wanted, you still need to be able to glean what you want from it. This is a chance to readapt and to see a new perspective.”

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