An important article for international students, written by Ryan D’souza an international student in Australia. JAM has been bringing you useful articles and information that students from India can use while choosing education abroad. Here is Ryan’s story;
When I received my student visa for Australia on Christmas Eve in 2009, I was so delighted about going overseas that not a single day would pass without me looking at the visa label on my passport. The very thought about going down under and the long in-flight journey filled me with tremendous excitement. I couldn’t wait any longer. A month down the line and all that excitement had fizzled out.
Two days after I arrived in Australia, I was thrown headlong into a different world. I experienced the great paradox of international education. All the wonderful things I had heard about international education seemed like a fairy-tale that was being narrated to me. The educational institute at which I was enrolled for a course in Business Management did not even have a campus of its own. Classes were conducted in hired rooms on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 8am to 5pm. Students came in and went out as and when they felt like coming, conveying the impression that this was something like a ‘grocery’ store.
An international education is expected to provide you with an international experience. At my institute, I felt as if I was in India. I found myself among a group of Indians in their early twenties who did not even know how to speak English. Barring a student from Nepal, there were no other international students. I was totally shocked. The teaching was far below average; in fact, I wonder if any teaching took place. The so-called ‘professors’ did not teach anything, they just warmed the chairs and engaged in idle gossip with the students in the local language. The students had only one aim – to get a permanent residency visa and settle eventually in the country.
Much of the culpability for my disastrous international experience lies with me. In my excitement about going down under, I did not do the homework that every international student is expected to do. I failed to do enough research about the educational institute at which I was supposed to be studying. The website of the institute gave me the impression that I was going to the right place. It was only after I arrived at the institute that I realized that I had been deceived.
Over the course of the days that followed, I realized that there were so many other students who were in the same boat as me. Fortunately, I was able to enrol myself at a reputed university but that still meant that I had lost a precious year of my life at the dodgy institute. I do not wish my experience to be the nightmare of potential international students. I desire future students to learn and benefit from my experience.
For the record, I was enrolled with The Ashmark Institute of Australia, at Melbourne. The education agent in Mumbai( name withheld) told me that it would be very easy for me to migrate to Australia on a student visa. He also told me that there would be no fees from his side (The agent actually gets a commission from the overseas institute). It appears very likely that the agent did not know anything as to how the institute was operated in Australia. When I told him about my displeasure with the institute, he himself was shocked.
There are certain guidelines that every would-be international student needs to follow to ensure that he or she has the best international experience. Whether the country is Australia, UK or USA does not matter; the guidelines I have enumerated below hold good for all prospective international students.
1. Choose your agent wisely
This is the first and foremost thing that you need to keep in mind because if you falter here, you will falter everywhere. Deceptive and fraudulent agents exist everywhere – avoid them at all costs. These people just want your money, and not your well-being. They will make you a lot of assurances and promises; don’t trust them in the least. I had the misfortune of having an agent who did not know anything about the educational institute he was sending me to. Besides receiving a lump sum from the institute, he also charged me additional fees.
The choice of a reliable and trustworthy agent is an important one. I suggest that you visit as many agents as you can, evaluate their terms and conditions, and then make an informed decision for yourself. If you are smart enough, you need not even employ the services of an agent. You can visit the immigration website of your country of study, download and fill the necessary forms, and send in your application along with the requisite documents and fees to the local embassy.
2. Do adequate research about your institute
There are as many fraudulent agents as there are fraudulent institutes. These have one common aim – to make as much profit as possible. The website will give you the impression that this is a very prestigious institute. Do not be misled.
A lot of effort needs to be put when selecting your educational institute. If it is a university, the task is made much easier. You do not have to worry much as universities have a reputation that is built over years of excellence. But private institutes are burgeoning everywhere, and some shut down as fast as they spring up. If you have friends or relatives in the country you are intending to study, it is wise to ask them to personally visit the institute and find out about everything – the student background, the campus, the teaching, the professors, etc. If you are unable to do this, then I advise you to proceed with caution.
3. Compare the costs of various educational institutes
The cost of international education is very high, which is why you need to make a proper decision after comparing the fees of various universities or institutes. At times, you may even be eligible for a scholarship. Once again, a lot of homework needs to be done to evaluate if the fees you are paying are reasonable or not.
4. Be certain about your career goals
Another important factor you need to take into consideration is your career goals. If you wish to eventually settle in the country you are studying, you need to choose a course that will help you to get permanent residency after your course gets over. Being familiar with the immigration laws of the country is a must. There is nothing more disappointing than realizing that you cannot stay in the country after the duration of your course.
On the other hand, if you wish to return to your country, you can choose a course that will help you to get a good job in your field of expertise. To summarize this point, a MBA from a prestigious Australian university will enable you to get a good job in India, but it won’t help you to get permanent residency in Australia.
The above four points will ensure that you are on the right track, but there are other factors like accommodation, jobs, social life, etc. that need to be taken note of when making a choice for international education. Very often, in the excitement of going overseas, students fail to look at the things that really matter and then suffer dire consequences. For international education to have the impact that it needs to have on one’s career, it is imperative that the prospective student gets the basics right. It is only then that one can live the cherished dream of an international education and reap its rich dividends.
Prospective international students, are you listening?
A few important facts about Private Colleges and vocational institutes in Australia that have closed down.
The website of the High Commission of Australia in India – www.hcindia-au.org has listed the following colleges that have closed down. Please visit the page on Guidelines for Studying in Australia.
As a result, over 64 colleges and vocational institutions closed down during 2009-2010 affecting over 7000 Indian students, most of them in the States of Victoria and New South Wales. It may therefore be worthwhile to consider studying only at the higher end institutions and the government-run TAFEs which offer vocational and skill-specific training.
JAM went through the list and we found that several colleges mentioned in the list of 64 still have their websites and face book pages running. They do not show the institute as having shut down.
While Australia remains a chosen destination for many Indian students, providing much needed quality education to Indian students for undergrad and post graduate studies, we would like students to choose their colleges well.
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