Canada, Australia and the UK top the list for UAE students for overseas study destinations Image Credit: Shutterstock

Studying abroad offers a barrage of benefits and is the perfect way to learn about new cultures while gaining a qualification. Students could even get a residency in the country too. Therefore, it’s not surprising that many students from the UAE are heading to different continents to pursue a variety of programmes.

Global opportunities

Some of the popular courses for UAE students are medicine, engineering, artificial intelligence, robotics, media and design and psychology, while Canada, Australia and the UK top their list for overseas study destinations. Demand for higher studies in European nations such as Germany, Czech Republic, France and Sweden are also gaining traction.

“We are seeing increased interest in traditional courses along with interests in creative fields such as digital media, product design and visual arts,” says Vandana Mahajan, Director, Futures Abroad.

Where students choose to study mainly depends upon their intention, whether they wish to settle down in the country or return home, points out Midhun Chayanani, Senior Lawyer and Consultant, The Migration Firm.

“If the students are looking for the option to settle down abroad, then Canada has the highest demand as it awards high points for Canadian education and experience while applying for the permanent residence. Australia and New Zealand have been attracting international students for many years and this has become one of the main revenues for the governments. Many students from China, India, Pakistan and the UAE have moved to these countries on student visas and some of them were able to settle down permanently by completing their studies and accepting relevant job offers,” explains Chayanani.

Cost of overseas degrees

Certainly, the goal of studying abroad are the future prospects and it’s never too early to start earning, especially when studying in a foreign country doesn’t come cheap.

“In general, tuition fees in universities abroad range between $15,000 (Dh55,000) and $30,000 and students have to provision for another $15,000 per year for the accommodation and other expenses,” suggests Nirbhay Kataria, Branch Manager, DM Consultants.

Therefore, many students choose to work while they study and, depending on where a student is located, it might be possible to work while on a student visa. “In most of the favourite destinations like the UK, the US, and Canada, students are allowed to work part-time. They are usually allowed to work 20 hours per week,” says Jorawar Singh, Managing Director, Stratix Consultants.

Work and residency permit

Once the studies are over, work is the end goal, and depending on the country of study, students can get a work permit for a relatively short period.

“Some countries grant you a work permit after completing the programme,” says Mahajan. “Canada, for example, grants you a three-year work permit, the UK has now introduced a two-year work permit, and some countries in Europe offer a 1.5 years permit.

“Furthermore, upon successfully getting a job in the country, the student is eligible to apply for permanent residency first and then citizenship after completing certain number of days, which varies in each country. Canada, at the moment, is offering the quickest and most flexible option of getting citizenship.”

Ace the IELTS

For those who are tempted by the lucrative prospects of studying abroad, it’s important to be well prepared and the road to success normally begins with the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) proficiency test. “IELTS is an integral step for any student pursuing higher education in most institutions abroad,” says Deep Adhikari, Director, Exams, the British Council, Gulf South.

Lead British Council
Deep Adhikari, Director, Exams, the British Council, Gulf South Image Credit: Supplied

“IELTS could be required for a visa by the government, even if it is not a requisite by the institution. Hence, taking an IELTS test is highly recommended for studying overseas.”

For anyone partaking in the IELTS, preparation is the key to success.

“The student should plan for enough time to prepare for IELTS even if they have engaged with the English language throughout their schooling,” explains Adhikari.

“A lot of IELTS test takers have to re-take their tests not because of their lack of language proficiency but because of their lack of preparation. The IELTS test assesses a student on two creative aspects, writing and speaking, and two receptive areas, listening and reading. Most test takers make the mistake of not giving enough attention to understanding the formats of the test and pacing themselves through adequate practice.”