Going to university for the first time is a big step for any student. It’s even more daunting for those who decide to study abroad; not only do they have to contend with a challenging course and lots of pressure, but they also have to find their feet in a new country and perhaps improve their level of English a great deal too.
Despite the difficulties, studying abroad can be hugely beneficial and is increasingly popular. The most recent data from the UN shows that 4.8 million (approx.) students studied abroad (2016) and the figures are on a steady upward trend.
The U.S. and UK are the most sought after destinations, followed by Australia, France, Germany and Russia. On the other hand, China, India, Germany, South Korea, and Nigeria are the top five countries of origin. This means many of the students will need to speak English as a second language – and prove to the university admissions department that they can do so.
So what can you do to prepare your students for university life abroad? And what qualifications should they take to put them on the path to success?
We outline the steps your students should follow below and offer some noteworthy advice from a number of university leaders, current international students and graduates.
Studying abroad: an incredible opportunity
Setting foot in a new country for the first time can be exciting, overwhelming, scary, fun…and many other emotions! When settling down to actually live in a new place, there are also a lot of things to think about and challenges to overcome. It’s an eye-opening, often character-building decision – and one many students remember fondly for the rest of their lives. Aside from the formal education students receive, they soon become creative, open-minded problem-solvers, which is an asset for an employer.
“Being in a totally different environment grows your mind and character in an invaluable way. You will discover strengths you never knew you had; capacity to be stretched and tested beyond what you thought you could withstand,” says Esther Shan Lin Hor, an international student of medicine at University College Dublin, Ireland and Penang Medical College, Malaysia.
Whether your students decide to return to their home countries to work, or to stay and work abroad, they will carry a fresh perspective with them.
“Being back in Malaysia has reminded me why I chose to serve in this field in the first place, and it has given me a real impetus to learn for the sake of being a good doctor,” says Esther.
The steps to preparing your students to study abroad
1. Getting qualified
The first step is to ensure your students meet university entry requirements. Our Edexcel GCE A levels and International Advanced Levels (IAL) are well-recognised qualifications that fully prepare your students to study abroad. In fact, more than 500 universities accept Pearson Edexcel IALs on an equivalent basis to GCE A level for undergraduate admission.
A full list of these universities can be found in this portfolio.
Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic is another useful qualification for your students. It offers unbiased English testing for study abroad and immigration purposes and is widely accepted by universities, colleges and governments in many countries. As the test is 100% computer-based, students can book the exam when it suits them.
Students are tested on speaking and writing, and are assessed on their ability to answer questions and respond to situations using academic English. When it comes to listening and reading, students undertake a range of tasks, including interpreting information, reordering paragraphs, and summarising a spoken text. PTE is graded by computer, using human-trained artificial intelligence. Subsequently, results are unbiased, accurate and are usually available within five working days.
You can take a look at some sample PTE Academic resources here.
2. Deciding on a destination
Step two comes once your student has a qualification: deciding on a destination country. Of course, there are lots of other things to think about—college applications can be a confusing process—especially if you are looking for a place in a foreign country.
That’s why we offer a number of guides written especially for prospective students and their parents, which offer information and advice on how to apply for university in different countries.
3. Choosing the right university
Andrew Hood, Admissions Manager for the University of South Wales (USW), explains that once a student has decided on a country to study in and completed their initial research, it’s time to look in more detail at the universities themselves.
“The best way to do that is to visit those universities own websites. As an international applicant you expect to have access to dedicated information as well as course specific details,” he says.
Andrew goes on to explain that the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) “is probably the route to go if you intend applying to multiple UK Universities (up to 5). However many universities accept direct applications from international students and will have details of how to do this on their own websites.”
4. Asking the right questions
Gianluigi Bevilacqua a First Class Degree graduate in Visual Effects from the University of Hertfordshire, offers some sage advice on what questions students should ask before accepting a place at a university abroad.
“Would the course chosen prepare me enough for the real world? Is the infrastructure at the university good enough to satisfy my expectations? Can I afford three years of rent? These questions are a few of the sort I had before I even thought about making the decision,” he says.
5. Getting organised ahead of time
Once a student has researched, applied for and been accepted on a course, they will have to prepare themselves mentally and physically. Subham Rai, a Lester B. Pearson International Scholar studying at The University of Toronto, has some handy tips on what to do before the course and orientation begins.
“When preparing for university, try to make a list of all the items you will need in your room as you start to live in it. Buy the items on this list at least a day before your move-in date. This will save you from the inconvenience of having to shop for supplies right when everyone else in your residence is enjoying orientation activities,” Subham says.