India


Students worry about cost and isolation when studying abroad

by Ray Clancy on September 14, 2015

More British students would like to spend some time studying abroad but they worry about the cost, being lonely and say there is a lack of information on overseas opportunities.

Many believe that spending time abroad will increase their employability, academic success and personal development, new research has found.

While the benefits of studying abroad  are well-known, students worry about the costs

But they often don’t know where to go to find out more despite being highly motivated to spend some time in another country.

The principal motivations to go abroad, whether studying, working or volunteering, were a desire for an enjoyable experience and to enhance employability and career prospects but key factors in the decision to go abroad were the availability of funding, personal safety and security and perceived quality of host and location.

Services and information offered by institutions such as help completing an application were considered the most valuable in decision making, especially for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

While students are motivated by the experiences and opinions of other students when making a decision, the encouragement of academic tutors was also found to be a significant factor.

Students considering a period abroad voiced concerns about isolation, insufficient funding, lack of knowledge of available opportunities, lack of language skills and potential impact on degree length as barriers. Funding and lack of knowledge opportunities were also key concerns for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Vivienne Stern, director of the UK HE International Unit, believes there needs to be more understanding of student needs. “We need to better understand what motivates them to go abroad, what they perceive to be the barriers as well as the perceived impact on their personal, academic and career development,” she said.

“This research provides valuable intelligence for institutions that are implementing or developing a student mobility strategy. It also demonstrates how important it is that students have access to all the relevant information and funding opportunities as well as the encouragement and support of their tutors to make the most of this life changing experience,” she added.

Kevin Van Cauter, senior higher education advisor for the British Council, said that while more and more UK students are enjoying the benefits of going abroad to study, work or volunteer, it is important to see that short periods away can still have a big impact, because that reduces the barriers for some people who want to have this valuable experience.

“We know that between 2007/2013 the number of UK students going to Europe through Erasmus grew by 115 per cent. What’s really exciting is that the British Council’s new Generation UK India programme saw almost 4,000 applications for the first 400 places this year,” he explained.

“Giving British students a short immersion experience in an Indian company or education institution—this suggests young people in the UK are eager for many different types of opportunities.The challenge now is for the sector and government to come up with ways to satisfy this desire to explore the world,” he pointed out.

“The British Council’s Study Work Create campaign provides a gateway to thousands of funded international opportunities and expert advice about overseas experiences but we want to offer even more,” he added.

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