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I'm an international student planning to apply to a UK University. Is the expensive tuition fees worth the job prospects?

UK is one of the best study destinations with world class education. However, there is such a high price to pay for both the tuition fees and living cost. Is it a wise decision on my part, now that the UK government allow only a few months to look for jobs? I've seen a lot of people on other sites advising international students not to study abroad in UK. #careerprospects #UK #internationalstudent #college-advice

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From: You
To: Friend
Subject: Career question for you

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John’s Answer

Effie, think of your university education as an investment.

One way to address that concern is to take a closer look at the potential earnings power of graduates who attended private schools and compare it with that of graduates from less costly colleges and universities. What are the expected returns on your investment? Compare starting salaries of your chosen career relative to the net cost to attend each of the different universities. Check the school’s web site for a net cost calculator that estimates financial aid based on factors like your parents income and assets or the number of your brother or sisters that are in college also. If your child is unsure of her major or career, they might want to consider a local community college the first year or two. This strategy will allow your student to take general education classes and explore career choices while staying at home and minimizing costs.

Effie, do you even have career path?

If your unsure of your major or career, you might want to consider a local community college the first year or two. This strategy will allow you to take general education classes and explore career choices while staying at home and minimizing your costs. The job outlook for your chosen career path is another important factor that must be researched. You don’t want to choose a profession that may become extinct in the next few years. Statistically, the highest-paying careers – which have a median annual salary of well over $200,000 – are surgeons, anesthesiologist and judges. At the other end of the spectrum, bakers, cooks, cashiers and floral designers earn a median annual salary that is less than $25,000.

Make sure your priorities are straight Effie.

In many areas of life, we don't always get what we pay for. That doesn’t mean the more expensive college choice is always the best one. As nice as it may be to attend an expensive, elite school, it’s a choice that may be paid over many years of burdensome student loan payments. For most students, this will be one of the biggest financial decision you will make.

Four steps to choosing the right university Effie.

STEP 1.) RESEARCH THE COURSE CONTENT – It probably goes without saying but your course should be the biggest factor in your overall decision. You will spend at least three years getting to grips with it, and chances are you’ll go on to pursue a career in the same field, too, so you’ll want to be sure that you’re making the right choice, both in terms of subject matter and type of degree.

STEP 2.) AREAS OF STRENGTH – Remember that no university is good at everything and no university is good at nothing. Every university excels in particular areas, so you should ensure that your field of study is a strong-point of the university you choose and sits high on its list of priorities. Our University Ratings are an excellent place to start, but you can also research each university’s teaching and research strengths through their websites.

STEP 3.) VOCATIONAL OPTIONS – Most students who attend university do so because they want to improve their chances of gaining employment in their chosen field of study, so it is important to note that universities can differ in the extent that they incorporate industry in the classroom and prepare students for employment. Some universities have research and technology parks in which university-affiliated organizations are based. Other universities have strong corporate links, which can facilitate graduate recruitment opportunities, prominent guest lecturers, internships, scholarships and industry projects.

STEP 4.) CONSIDER THE FINANCIAL IMPLICATIONS – Finance should not be a barrier to education but, unfortunately, for many this continues to be the case. Even if you manage to cobble together the requisite funding, you’re going to be saddled with enormous debts for the remainder of your working life. For a lot of potential applicants, this is a factor in their eventual choice – whether they want it to be or not.

While it can be difficult to choose between universities, you will find that there are some key differences between them that can help you make the big decision. The most important thing is to determine what sort of character and focus the university has and ensure that it aligns with your own personality, interests and goals Effie.

Hope this was Helpful
Thank you comment icon Hi John, Thank you so much for taking time to answer my queston. I find it very encouraging :) Effie
Thank you comment icon Your Welcome Effie. Believe in yourself and you’re halfway there. John Frick
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Hannah S.’s Answer

Hi Effie! Adding to the great answers by Cheryl, Sachin, and John, I also want to note how important networking is...

I attended university in the UK and am originally from the USA. I found that one of the challenges of studying abroad was that I had more limited opportunities to network with professionals back in the US. (This was before COVID and the recent focus on virtual events and networking). I had to be more thoughtful about networking when I was home for holiday breaks, connecting with other students from the US, and focusing on companies with an international presence at my university job fairs.

I am not saying it is impossible - you will just have to be more thoughtful about how to grow your network through college! Of course, if you excel in your field, your resume will set you apart, and many companies are OK with remote interviewing vs. in person these days too.

As mentioned above, focus on what you want to do and see what schools will provide the best education - and then consider the financial implications as well.

Also, in addition to higher tuition rates, make sure you think about the cost of flights!

Best,
Hannah
Thank you comment icon Hi Hannah, much thanks for taking time to answer my question! If you don't mind, what university did you go to in UK? How was your experience academic and social wise? Effie
Thank you comment icon Hi Effie, I attended the University of St Andrews in Scotland. I studied International Relations and Economics. The academic structure is different in Europe... usually the course load is only 3 classes (as opposed to maybe 4-5 in the US) so you do not take "electives" in the same way. It is less easy to take a variety of classes to figure out what you like, so I would be sure you are confident in what you want to study. Additionally, while the US grading system is (usually) based on a combination of items -- smaller assignments throughout the semester, attendance, presentations, mid-terms, and finals (though specifics depended on the class). Instead, at St Andrews, grades were only based on 1-2 larger assignments and a final exam. Hannah S. Petrie
Thank you comment icon Socially, for a first year, it was a very similar experience to what I imagine in the US - though with the drinking age being lower, there is some difference! For example, one of our orientation activities was a pub crawl. Another main difference is that (at least at St Andrews) most students moved off-campus after their first year (and got houses/apartments in town with friends). At US schools, there are usually sophomores/juniors/seniors living on campus. Hope this helps! Hannah S. Petrie
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Sachin’s Answer

Hi Effie,
I do not have an exact answer to your question, but I would advise you to concentrate on understanding what you want to study (the subject). Then apply to colleges that are the best for that subject - regardless of the location.
I think that whichever the location outside your home country, there might be immigration related risks. However if you excel at what you do, getting a job shouldn't be a big hurdle.

All the best! Hope you get whatever makes you happy.
Thank you comment icon Hi Sachin, Thank you so much for taking your time to answer my questions. I'll keep what you said in mind when it is time to decide on either a major or location of study. ^^ Effie
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Aarush’s Answer

Hi Effie,

I was an international student myself in a new country and can relate to your question.
What I'd advise is do your research about the job opportunities in that country in your respective field before you move there. Visa issues can always be tricky in some countries especially the UK. If you've already made the decision to study there, I say go for it. Here's what you can do to stand out from the crowd as you near graduation.
- Take up as many internships as you can in your respective field while studying. (Hopefully you can turn one of them into a full time job)
- Network, the more people you know in your industry the higher your chances.
- Don't be confined to a single industry. This is easier said than done but keep an open mind that you might have to start as something other than what you had wanted to do before you started university just to get started.
- Don't leave internships to the last year of university, start in the first year if possible.

Ps - I'm based in Singapore so if you have more questions feel free to reach out through LinkedIN :)
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Cheryl’s Answer

This depends on many factors. Are you looking to go to a top university in the UK, or a specific one that offers your major- area of interest?
You can google "best undergraduate universities in the UK for international students, and you may be surprised by the affordable options. Obviously, the further you are from London, the more affordable it will be in terms of living expenses. I understand University of Dundee in Scotland has a nice vibe and caters to an international population. There are plenty of others.
A key factor that other responses have mentioned has to do with the field you are going into. If it's tech, business, or engineering , you MAY find the tuition worth it. But, perhaps it would make more sense to study locally, or in your home country, and then invest the money in an amazing study abroad experience. For example, live and go to college in the UK during your college junior year, a popular time to study abroad. Here in the U.S., most students will experience studies abroad, but for a shorter time period, such as 3 months to one year. This should be a key consideration as you decide what college to attend. But if you know for a fact that you plan to reside in the UK for life, then it may be worth pursuing your degree in the UK. Last, you have to consider how likely you are to get into some of these universities in the UK. Colleges such as Imperial are extremely difficult to get into. In any event, I'd check with the admissions offices at each university of interest, and ask them if they have any special scholarships or programs to encourage international students to apply/attend. I wish you well, wherever you choose to study!
Thank you comment icon Thank you so much, Cheryl, for answering my question. I'll make sure to do a deeper research into the universities options :) Effie
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