According to a 2009 UNESCO report, 2.8 million students were pursuing higher education courses outside their home countries. UNESCO predicts that the number will rise to 8 million by 2020, with many experts seeing such students as part of a global circulation of knowledge through universities that brings benefits to all countries. So what prompts millions of students to leave their home nations to live in a country they may never have seen before? And how do students and parents deal with the potentially frightening challenge of choosing a foreign university, a decision that could shape a student’s whole life?
As with other migrants, one of the main factors driving students abroad is the search for a better life. They believe that getting a degree from a foreign university boosts their chances of getting a good job. And then there is also the advantage of gaining a qualification in English, the largely spoken language in the world. But there is so much more beyond the formal qualification.
Studying abroad gives the students the much needed confidence and real life experience. For example, in the UK, that could include experiencing life in cosmopolitan, historic and dynamic cities such as London, Manchester or Edinburgh, or the more traditional life of a smaller town. Or it could be about British food and sampling varieties of delicacies. After all, there could be an opportunity to start a career in your adopted country, or return home with a qualification that makes you stand out from your peers.
But how do students and their parents choose a university that will live up to their expectations? Because there are a number of smaller institutions where the gullible students get admission without knowing whether they are registered with the concerned authorities or not. The students feel cheated once they return home armed with a degree which has no value at all.
Here it should be recalled that the Times Higher Education World University Rankings come to the rescue of students which ranks universities across the world according to different parameters. These rankings help undergraduate and postgraduate students around the world in choosing their university. Teaching accounts for 30 percent of a university’s score. The scores are also given to universities according to staff-student ratio and the number of foreign teachers as well as students.
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