Study Abroad Options Your Teen May Not Know About


Aug 20, 2017


Typically, the US and the UK are the most popular destinations for Indian students wanting to study overseas for their undergraduate degree. However, over the last few years, due to the increase in cost and changes in the political environment, students are now looking at where else to study abroad. Canada, Europe, Australia, and South Asia are home to many affordable, English-language institutions that offer the same high standard of education as those in the US or UK.

Where to study abroad (other than the US, UK)

South Asia

If your child is determined to go overseas for education, consider Singapore or Hong Kong. Universities in these locales are closer to India, have large Asian student bodies and still maintain an international atmosphere. In recent years, universities in this region have moved away from rote-based learning to focus on critical thinking and innovation; most programs integrate practical experience for students through research or internships.

Some of the most popular universities in South East Asia include National University of Singapore, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore (NTU), Hong Kong University and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; these institutions offer competitive courses in mathematics, engineering and computer science. In fact, National University of Singapore is recognized for having one of the strongest electrical engineering programs, while NTU is known for its research and technological innovations. Students there live in the financial and technology capitals of Asia, with access to many internship and work opportunities.

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If the student is interested in non-science programs, then Singapore University of Technology and Design has some fantastic courses in design, media studies and management. This university has even collaborated with MIT to design its curriculum, co-teach some of the courses and encourage student exchange programs. Students can expect high-quality education and access to world class faculty for a lower price point, while still being close to home. The cost of studying in Singapore can range between Rs. 18 to 23 lakh per year, while in Hong Kong you can expect to pay around Rs. 17 to 20 lakh annually.


Going to a European location outside the UK to pursue an undergraduate degree may not have been an option previously, but as the world becomes more global, universities in Europe are looking for more diversity on their campuses; to attract it, so they have begun offering English-language courses. Of course, it is advantageous to know the basics of a local language to facilitate communication with residents, but it is not a requirement.

Each European country has its own educational strength. For instance, studying mechanical or automobile engineering in Germany, which is home to some of the world’s largest automobile companies, giving students access to industry experts and top-line internships. And 600 year-old KU Leuven University in Belgium (Europe’s most innovative university, as reported by Reuters in June 2017) offers English courses in business, economics and various sciences.

Most European universities offer extremely subsidized fees for international students; in Germany, non-EU students pay about 3,000 Euros per year and in Belgium, about 4,000 Euros per year to study. Scandinavian universities also charge lower fees compared to the UK or USA, though some offer only individual courses, rather than full degree programs, in English.


To study overseas in Hong Kong, Singapore or in a European country, a student would need to be sure of their intended major prior to applying, as institutions in these locations offer little flexibility in changing majors. If your student is looking for flexibility and a chance to explore several subjects, then Canada is a good option. Universities in Canada, such as the University of Toronto, McGill University and University of British Columbia, are consistently ranked among the best in the worldwide and actively seek to diversify their student population with well-rounded international students.

Undergraduate courses in Canada are typically four years long, and students can study a combination of subjects, ranging from engineering to languages to business management. The University of British Columbia has one of the best business management programs, which involves a number of essays, as well as a video essay as part of its application process. The University of Waterloo has one of the most competitive computer science programmes in the world, with access to Google, OpenText, Dalsa, and many other companies that have offices in the region. Most courses in Canada allow students to combine paid work experience with their academic studies; students who participate in this kind of co-op program earn money to defray the cost of their schooling – which ranges from Rs. 18 to 25 lakh per year — and can graduate with as much as two years of hands-on experience in their field. After graduation, the student would be able to work or stay to look for a job in Canada on a student visa.


Australia also offers great programs for international students, who currently make up roughly 20% of the student population at universities. The Australian government, which runs 39 of the 41 universities, offers scholarships called the Australian Awards only to applicants from abroad. Fees here are typically cheaper than what students would pay in the US or UK (around Rs. 25 lakh annually).

Australian universities similar to those in Canada, offering some flexibility to switch majors after students apply for a specific program. The University of Sydney, University of South Wales, and Australian National University are great places to study medicine and law, which can be pursued as undergraduate degrees (though fees for these specific programs rival US/UK costs).

Australia also has some of the world’s best culinary programs. Le Cordon Bleu is one of the most well-known and others include the School of Culinary Arts at Australian College of Applied Education, William Blue College of Hospitality Management, as well as the Victorian Institute of Culinary Arts and Technology. Students graduate with an international degree and can get excellent placement opportunities in London, Tokyo, and Paris.


Today, you do not have to go overseas to find a great education for your child`. Although Indian colleges have traditionally been known for their high cut-offs and fierce competition, many are finally evolving toward a holistic form of education in which grades aren’t the only criteria for admission. Institutes like Ashoka University and FLAME University look at the overall profile of students, including extracurricular activities and essays, similar to universities abroad. These Indian universities offer a liberal arts program, where students can design their own curriculum and learn everything from mathematics to art.

Most importantly, the overall costs are also much lower compared to studying abroad, because students can stay at home. If a student needs boarding on-campus, the total expenses range between Rs. 17 to 25 lakh for institutions like Asoka.

Regardless of location, keep in mind:

The university’s location is only one criterion of the final decision. There are many other factors to also consider, such as flexibility of the courses, work opportunities, and research facilities. Your child’s goals and future ambitions should drive this discussion. It is more important to find a university that is the right fit for your child, in terms of academic and extra-curricular interests, than in the ‘right’ part of the world.





Written By Ashmi Mehta

Ashmi Mehta is the Senior Manager of Undergraduate Services at The Red Pen, where she assists students with their applications for programs ranging from medicine to management, focusing on countries such as the US, UK, Singapore and Ireland. Ashmi started her career as a finance consultant at Deloitte London where she advised large companies on streamlining their financial processes. Upon moving to Mumbai she transitioned to a career in education, at first teaching IB mathematics at the B.D. Somani International School. She enjoyed engaging with young students and decided to work as an undergraduate consultant. Before moving to India, Ashmi lived in Antwerp and London. Ashmi holds a BSc Mathematics and Computer Science from Imperial College London.


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