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Degrees with an European edge

Degrees with an European edge

Some major Continental countries offer a lot to Indian students looking for quality education as well as work abroad opportunities17 Jan 2018 | 12:57 AM

The number of Indian students going abroad to study is growing at a pace much faster than ever before.

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Usha Albuquerque

The number of Indian students going abroad to study is growing at a pace much faster than ever before. Industry guesstimates suggest that 2.5 lakh-3 lakh students from India travel abroad every year to study, spending  around Rs 45,000 crore or $7 billion on foreign education. This is nearly 60 per cent of the funds allotted to education in the Budget, according to a study by Assocham and TISS.

Nearly 85 per cent of internationally mobile Indian students head for five countries: the US, UK, Australia, Canada and Singapore, and while Germany is emerging strongly as a favoured destination, the number of Indian students studying in the UK has been flattening after major drops of around 23 per cent between 2012 and 2014. In fact, European countries are fast being added to thestudents’ go-to list.  

The US and the UK still remain the most favoured destinations for a majority of students seeking to go abroad. But you may need to think twice before assuming you will get to stay on in the US to work. The Trump administrations stricter visa norms  and proposed changes in the offing are likely to include limiting the Optional Practical Training (OPT) programme, which has so far allowed some international students to work in the US. Following the "Buy American and Hire American" Executive Order, which was rolled out earlier this year, there are proposals to limit or completely remove the Obama-era extension of the OPT for students in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields, which had provided students with 24 additional months over the 12 months already granted under the OPT. Such changes could make it more difficult for students, even those with expertise in STEM categories, to find jobs in the US. So if you plan to study in the US be prepared to return home, after that, even if you do get a job. International students with job offers from companies like Google, Apple and PwC have had their visa applications turned down.

Even in the UK there is limited scope for students to stay on after finishing studies as a result of tighter visa curbs and the closure of the post-study work visa in 2012. The rules for non-EU students moving from a student visa to a work visa, post-Brexit are now rather strict. Essentially you’ve got to have a graduate job, with a graduate salary of a minimum £20,800, with a licensed Home Office employer. A pretty tall order for a first job! However, recently a UK student visa pilot programme that allows students to stay on for six months after completion of studies has been extended to 23 universities in addition to the four in which it was originally introduced.  This is likely to make it easier for students enrolled in these universities to stay on post study and look for jobs. So, though the UK has some of the top universities in the world, and the best education both in terms of quality and environment that money can buy, be prepared to return home after your degree.

So, if you are one of those looking at greener pastures, here is some useful information regarding  study options,  especially in Europe along with the cost entailed, the work visa possibilities and other useful information you may need before making that important decision. 

SPAIN 

Spain is the kind of place where you can enjoy both a good holiday as well as a good degree programme. There are 76 universities in Spain, offering a variety of courses, most of which are taught in Spanish, but  there are also a number of courses at both undergraduate and postgraduate level taught in English. Among the more popular among Indian students are courses in business, international business fashion, and design. 

Fee factor: Course fees in public universities are some of the lowest in Europe ranging between Euro 750-2,100 a year for a bachelor’s degree, to Euro 900-3,300 for a master’s and PhD. Private universities have higher tuition fees, but usually not exceeding Eur 18,000 a year for any degree programme, except for business degree which may over EUR 20,000 a year.

However, living costs in Spain are high, particularly if you wish to stay in bigcities like Madrid and Barcelona, where you would need around 1,300 EUR/month for all your monthly expenses. On the other hand, in cities like Valencia, Seville or Cadiz, you can enjoy cheaper living costs, around Eur 800 - 850 a month.

Work/visa options: Students from India will need to obtain a work permit from the Spanish Embassy/Consulate in the country as well as a residence Visa ( if your study programme is longer than 90 days.

It is possible to get an internship to work in Spain as a university student for which you should contact the Association of International Students for Economics and Commerce. If you have a student residence card, you are allowed to work up to 20 hours a week, as for many other countries, for the duration of your study in Spain as long as it does not interfere with your studies. You also need to speak and understand Spanish to obtain employment in most of the companies found within the country.  

Some of the top employers in Spain taking on college students interns include Grupo Santander, a large group of international banks, Telfonica de Espana Spain’s telecom provider, El Corte ingles the largest department store chain in Spain, and Kimberly Clark a well-known supplier of many household products.  Jobs are also available in sales, marketing, banking and auditing and many others. 

So, in the final analysis, students looking to study and work abroad need to be clear about their goal and objectives. Define the field of work that interests you and then identify the country where you will get the maximum opportunities to study and possibly stay on for some valuable years of work.


Germany

Germany continues to be a favourite destination for Indian students, more so as public universities in Germany charge low or no tuition fees. Germany is also valued for courses in engineering and technology, an area of expertise often identified as German engineering excellence. Moreover, most German degrees are internationally recognised, with many universities available in English. Engineering, maths and computer science, and business are the more popular courses for Indian students.

Generally, students pursuing their degree at any authorised German Higher University, are given a Study Visa which can be further extended upon graduation to make it a work permit for 18 months, during which time a student can either work in any employment to support him/her and at the same time, or go for job hunting. For internship, the student has to apply for an Internship Visa for which you need to furnish the agreement between the student and the German company, and the company has to apply to the authorities on your behalf, to become eligible to work as an Intern in Germany. The internship Visa is variable depending on the length of it, but has an upper limit of 12 months. To obtain a job-seeker visa, you have to provide proof of adequate funding, to sustain yourself  during your stay at Germany and also must have a degree equivalent to that of the German Degrees. The Job Seeker Visa duration is normally of 6 months duration. Germany is the most stable economy in Europe although the job market is  feeling the pinch of a slow down, as is with most of Europe. Moreover, a knowledge of German is essential to work in Germany,  and can go a long way for success while job hunting.


France

France is also becoming another popular study destination for Indian students, most of whom opt for post-graduation courses in business, science, economics and design. 

Students who go to France for pursuing higher education can apply for a "Temporary Residency Authorisation" (termed  ASP)  or  a Residency Permit to facilitate entry of International Talents into France, that allows them to stay after completion of their course for professional reasons. To be eligible for this permit you need to have completed a master’s level degree,  or a Professional Licence equivalent to a five-year studies course, must be able to provide enough financial support during their stay,  the minimum being Eur 615 a month, or hold a work contract for more than three months. The Temporary Residency Authorisation (ASP) is normally issued for 12 months post-graduation. 

However, after a recent bi-lateral student exchange programme signed by India and France, Indian students under the ASP are eligible for a 24-month post-study temporary residence visa instead of the 12-month tenure. Of course, you will need to be fluent in French if you want to benefit by the possibility of studying and working in France. 

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