If you’re choosing an English-speaking study destination, you’re probably considering one of the Big Four: the USA, the United Kingdom, Canada or Australia. But which of these countries will suit you best? Which country offers the best opportunities for study, and for work when you graduate? Which is easiest to get into? Which is the most affordable?
In this post, we look at eight key criteria for choosing the best place for. So read on to find out which country is the best for your international education
- Reputation and quality
- Employment opportunities
- Style of education
- English education
- Ease of entry
- Value for money
- Reputation and quality
All three countries say they have a good reputation for quality higher education. But what does that really mean in practice?
The USA has more universities than any other country in the world. And it also has more in the top ten of the Times Higher Education Supplement than any other country in the world. This alone is enough to make it the number one choice for international students.
In reality, there is a diverse range of places to study in the US, all governed by separate state laws. From famous ivy-league schools like Harvard and Stanford to excellent community colleges such as Santa Barbara City College – with an equally diverse range of tuition fees. With a higher proportion of privately-owned colleges, a US education means access to the latest resources, technology and equipment – and some of the best academic teachers in the world.
In the UK, an historic reputation for academic excellence (Oxford, Cambridge, LSE) combines with high-tech modern university teaching at some of the newest campuses in the world, such as Brunel University. It also has an outstanding reputation for research, making it attractive for post-graduate students from around the world.
And even though Australia has a small population of just 20 million, it has a relatively large number of world-class universities and colleges. With a clear framework of recognised qualifications and a reputation for effective teaching and research, an Australian degree is highly portable around the world.
Most of you want to study abroad to improve your career options in the future. So which country offers the best post-graduate career outcomes?
An American education is highly-regarded by employers around the world. But it’s harder to find employment in America once you graduate, mainly because the work visas are heavily restricted.
You also need to think about your subject choice – attending medical school or law school in America may be a long-held dream, but may also limit the countries where you can practice.
The UK, on the other hand, makes it much easier for students to stay and work once they graduate. You can work for up to 20 hours per week while you study, and when you graduate apply for a Post Study Work Visa. Manu courses also offer work experience or internships as part of the curriculum. This provides you with the chance to put your studies into practice – and add valuable experience to your CV.
In Australia, you are also able to work for up to 20 hours per week while you study, and apply for a work visa when you graduate. The ease of getting this visa depends to some extent on your course and results. Australia also has lower unemployment rate (at present) than the US and UK, making it easier to find part-time or graduate employment.
Style of education
In the USA, you have quite possibly the widest choice of subjects available in the world, and almost infinite flexibility on how you put together your studies. It’s also relatively easy to change your mind, and switch classes, courses or even institutions.
Many international students find it easier to start their American studies at a smaller college, and then transfer to a larger University for the last two years of their program. This gives you time to adapt to life in the US, improve your English, and learn the basic elements of your study in a supportive environment.
In the UK, you are expected to be more independent when it comes to learning. Rory, a UK liberal arts student who spent a year at California State University, puts it like this; “In the US it is compulsory to go to all your classes and read every inch of the set texts, but mot much outside of this. In the UK it’s almost the complete opposite. Undergraduates are pointed in the right direction by their professors, but then left to their own devices to find the right resources and produce their own analysis.”
Australia offers a combination of these two extremes, with lectures and smaller tutorials, group work and individual exams and essays. In Australia you are expected to think creatively and independently, and hands on experience is actively encouraged.
All three countries teach in English… but American English is quite different to UK English. All four countries offer English as a Second Language studies, but the USA favours TOEFL as a qualification and the UK and Australia lean towards IELTS.
EASE OF ENTRY
It is incredibly difficult to get into the world’s best universities, no matter where they are. But it is even harder to get into the best American schools. There is a lot of competitive for places on the top courses, and a low acceptance rate for international students. Tough student visa requirements add to the time and energy you need to pursue your dream of an American education.
The UK and Australia have streamlined application and visa processes that make it much easier – but on the flipside this means there is a large proportion of international students on many courses, which may affect your learning experience… or offer you more global friendship opportunities, depending on your point of view!
Australia is regarded as one of the safest and friendliest study destinations in the world, although recent isolated incidents have put this claim in some doubt. No country is completely safe, and it’s important to be careful wherever you are. Parts of the US have higher crime rates than others, parts of the UK are safer than others
This is where these three countries really offer something unique. Looking for sunshine, amazing natural wonders and wildlife, sports and the chance to relax when you’re not studying? Australia has all that and more.
Or if you’d like to discover history and culture, shop ‘til you drop, roam gentle green countryside, study in the UK and explore all of Europe on your doorstep.
The US has something for everyone, with a climate that ranges from ski and snow to sun and surf, big bustling cities and easy-living suburbs.
All three countries are multi-cultural melting pots with the food you may be missing from home, and people who speak your language. And all three provide great student support and services to help you feel at home and make new friends.
VALUE FOR MONEY
For many students, the decision ultimately comes down to cost.
A US education doesn’t have to be expensive (it’s usually less expensive to study at a college first and then transfer) but limited part-time work options and increased competition for scholarships make it harder to support your cost of living.
In the UK, the cost of living may be slightly more expensive (especially in London) but tuition fees are lower. Plus, you can complete a Masters program in less time than in the US, which makes it more affordable still – an MBA is usually a one-year program in the UK. Medical care is also usually available free of charge to students in the UK – one less thing to worry about.
Australia combines a lower cost of living with lower tuition fees – plus you can work part-time. But remember to factor in the cost of getting there, and of travelling around this vast country, as airfares can be expensive. You’ll also need to pay for mandatory Overseas Student Health Cover (health insurance).
So, which study destination really is best? It comes down to what you hope to achieve. Think about the following checklist when you make your decision:
Does it help you on your career path?
Will it provide a recognised qualification in your own country?
Are you happy with the style of teaching and assessment methods?
Will you be near friends or relatives?
Can you afford the course fees and cost of living?
Will you meet the entry and visa requirements?
For more information about studying in these destinations you can visit their directory pages here: UK, USA, Australia.