Tibetan children settle into their classroom in a school at a Tibetan refugee camp in Kathmandu. The Room to Read educational charity runs special educational programmes aimed at supporting girls who would otherwise have no option but to discontinue their studies because of economic and social considerations. Image Credit: AP

"Over the 15 years I have spent in the international education sector I have come to learn the important role information plays in people's lives. I've seen people make excellent choices when they had access to help and resources and I've seen people make the worst choices when they lacked access to information and support. I believe education is an area where we cannot afford to make such mistakes. It is an integral part of our lives and we should not leave it to lady luck or last-minute calls.

While education is one of the most important facets of life it is equally important to remember that it is not purely limited to academic learning. It involves learning to grasp and understand the world around us through exposure to different cultures, interaction with people from different walks of life and gaining the most out of every experience. Studying in a multinational, multicultural community provides you with the opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and experience the world at large. It helps remove barriers and prejudices from both ends of the spectrum giving rise to better understanding between people from different backgrounds.

It is our endeavour that through this column we make access to international education a reality for all and offer the best possible advice and information to people to make an informed decision in the never ending maze of college searches and application processes.

This weekly column is aimed not only at students and parents but everyone who's interested in international education. We'll cover diverse topics ranging from country of study, choice of programme, cost of education, work prospects, visa issues, the application process, importance of rankings, the availability of scholarships and most importantly how universities select students. We'll talk about public universities vs private colleges, liberal arts colleges, community colleges and other options available. We will also endeavour to answer all queries you may have on education and related fields.

To set the ball rolling, this week we shall discuss a question that is frequently asked: Is there a difference between opting for higher studies in the UK and the US?

Both countries have excellent institutions and an ethos for education and it is no surprise that all world rankings will normally have the top five places shared between them. In absolute terms the USA has the largest number of international students but it still forms less than four per cent of the total student population. The international student community is more significant in the UK and most universities are well geared up to accommodate the diverse demands of international students.

While tuition fees in the USA range from $5,000 (Dh18,364) to $35,000 per annum in the UK it tends to be around £9,000 (Dh52,545)-£15,000 per annum for regular courses. Do not discount the importance of factors like distance, the weather, and support of family in making the final decision.

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Verma began his career with Ernst & Young before moving on to set up the Gulf operations of IDP Education Pty. He now leads Intelligent Partners in Dubai developing a wide range of solutions in areas of international education.

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