According to Sable International Study Abroad managing director Brent Morris, there are tremendous benefits to obtaining your qualifications internationally, ranging from experiencing new countries and cultures to obtaining a globally recognised qualification, and becoming more employable in other countries.
“Living and studying overseas, you develop an understanding and appreciation of people from other countries, which increases your self-confidence and independence. Certain countries also offer post-study visas that enable you to potentially immigrate,” said Morris.
According to Morris, here are 5 things young South Africans need to know if they plan to study overseas.
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Choosing the right study destination
With so many options out there, it can be difficult choosing where to go.
“When looking at studying at a university abroad, the first thing you should do is to choose the country you want to study in, considering factors such as the costs of study, safety, teaching language and study environment.
“There are other key factors such as what research and post-study opportunities are available, and the earning potential for the career path you intend to study towards should you decide to relocate to the country permanently,” he said.
Morris said it’s also important to find out if your career path is on a long-term skilled shortage list in the country should you decide to relocate to the country permanently.
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“Once you have chosen your desired discipline, you need to find an institution that is known for offering a high standard of education in that particular specialisation. Then, evaluate the institution’s track record and read testimonials from other international students,” said Morris.
He recommends that you research the teaching style and educational philosophy to see if it matches how you like to learn.
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“Work opportunities must also be considered – what job opportunities that would be available to you and can the school assist with work placement or practical career experience? What partnerships does the institution have with local businesses and experts,” he said.
The application process
Morris added that once you’ve decided on your international education destination, you can start the application process as this process differs depending on the country and university you have chosen.
“You will have to prepare and submit all the necessary supporting documents and possibly take a language test to check your proficiency,” said Morris.
Morris said that once you’ve been accepted into an international university or college, the next step is to make sure that you have the right to study in that country, which will often mean applying for a study visa.
“One thing you will need when applying for your visa is a statement of purpose. This is personal to you and intended to reflect your own situation and may include your motivation for studying and your knowledge of your university of choice,” said Morris.
He revealed that applying for a student visa is a complex process, and immigration experts can be an invaluable resource and will help you work through the checklist of requirements, so to process a visa you will need your university application, a range of supporting documents, and a letter of intent and prepare for the possibility of a visa interview.
And finally, Morris said that after you have been granted a visa, you need to prepare for your departure.
“This includes booking flights and arranging accommodation. Search for accommodation as soon as you have confirmation of where you’ll be studying, so this doesn’t become a last-minute stressor,” he said.
Many universities offer on-campus accommodation, which is a great option that allows you time to get familiar with your new city. Think of overseas study as an adventure and an opportunity to experience a different environment and gain international experience.