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Study abroad: key advantages of foreign degree

With diverse courses to choose from offering hands-on practical learning that equips students with unique skill sets, international qualifications provide an edge to students aspiring to study abroad.

According to UNESCO, out of the five million international students studying worldwide in 2018, 750,000 were Indian. However, in the aftermath of the pandemic, approximately 40 percent of students decided to postpone their plans to study abroad.

The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE)-one of the largest state departments in the US sponsoring inbound foreign students-operated across 65 centers in 40 countries before the pandemic. However, after the virus struck, the nonprofit organization was forced to suspend operations in 33 locations.

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The shift from physical to hybrid learning:

The switch to online learning was yet another crucial factor in the decision-making process for students who planned to pursue studies abroad. Given the closing of international borders at the height of the pandemic last year, and academicians and students unable to physically attend classes, most schools and colleges moved to online classes.

This benefited students who were forced to cancel or postpone plans of studying abroad as well, offering them a vast choice of courses from multiple universities to choose from, all from the comfort of their home screens.

With the ease and immersive experience that online learning offers, it is likely that the demand for online learning will continue even after the pandemic passes. A recent KPMG report projected that the growth of the online education market in India will reach USD1.96 billion in 2021.

A number of global universities have recently adopted hybrid learning, combining online instruction with shorter physical programmes. However, while the variety and number of international courses have increased, the skill requirements for students applying to foreign universities have also correspondingly risen. Students with international qualifications have a competitive edge over their peers, which significantly increases their options to study abroad.

International qualifications equal better study-abroad prospects:

Although Covid-19 has forced Indian students to resort to online learning, a new survey suggests that 91% of Indian students are still interested in studying abroad as soon as they are permitted to do so.

Even for those who are keen to pursue online courses from foreign universities, international qualifications, awarded by social partner organizations or multinational companies, as well as EdTech companies which offer internationally recognised vocational courses, are rapidly gaining popularity.

For example qualification like BTEC opens new doors into rewarding careers in sectors such as applied science, art and design, learning and development, ICT and engineering, construction, hospitality management, travel and tourism, hair and beauty, sports, performance and creative arts, environmental conservation, and financial services, among others, that can provide added leverage to students wishing to study and work abroad.

Here are some of the key advantages of international qualifications include:

1. Opening doors to international higher education:

With international qualifications, students can avail of an all-around competitive edge which offers them a greater variety of courses to choose from as well as entry into universities of their choice which may currently have restrictions on the number of admissions due to Covid-19.

International qualifications can also aid those wanting to pursue international studies later in life, after working for a few years. Moreover, for those students who are not academically inclined, international qualifications can help them gain acceptance to universities offering vocational courses of their choice. These qualifications can also aid them in impressing potential employers with their specialized skill set.

2. Practical learning:

With international qualifications, students are offered a chance to immediately put into practice what they learn due to instruction and assignments based on real-life scenarios, as opposed to more theoretical learning in traditional courses. Assessments are also unique in terms of testing practical application to learning, thus helping students develop the appropriate skill sets required to get into the industry of their choice.

3. Employment prospects:

Today, employers are increasingly looking for candidates with diverse skill sets and varied educational qualifications, so that they bring more value to the table and add to the company’s portfolio. This also reduces the amount of investment and time by organizations in training freshers, since they are already equipped with the requisite skill sets suited for that particular industry. International qualifications thus give students an edge over their peers when it comes to being hired.

4. Career-oriented skill development:

Given the wide variety of subjects that international qualifications cover, students, get a chance to hone their skills according to the industry they wish to ultimately gain entry into. Thus, international qualifications help increase the employability potential of students, in the career of their choice.

5. Diverse set of courses to choose from:

Whether a student wishes to pursue international qualifications part-time alongside academic qualifications like GCSE or A level, or take up these courses independently as vocational courses, international qualifications promise variety covering a broad range of subjects and skill development that provides students with lucrative options to study abroad, while also opening doors to employment in diverse sectors.

6. NEP and international qualifications:

The National Education Policy (NEP) is also focused on the need for youth to be trained in new and internationally competitive skills, especially with regard to K12 and STEM education, as well as vocational training and non-academic education.

Moreover, the implementation of the Higher Education Commission of India is expected to oversee the introduction of academic programs in various educational institutions, while also encouraging vocational and professional skills training for the youth, which can help them become more employable and compete with peers at an international level.

This bodes well for international qualifications which offer hands-on training and skill development enhancing the employability of students across sectors, whilst arming them with life skills to compete and stay ahead. It also gives students aspiring to study abroad that extra edge that foreign universities are looking for, increasing their chances of gaining admissions to prestigious universities of their choice, as well as bagging lucrative employment due to the unique value and skillsets gained as a result.

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