Tips for choosing a post-graduate course abroad
Choosing to study abroad can be an intimidating decision. Maria Pia Munita, a post-graduate student at Cork Institute of Technology, gives her expert opinion on finding the right path to achieving your educational goals as an international student.
To commit to a post-graduate course, you have to really have interest in a subject. It is very beneficial to study abroad as a post-graduate, but it’s good to know what you want to do with the degree.
Undertaking a postgraduate course abroad is an amazing experience. It opens your mind to cross-cultural understanding and fulfils your life by presenting you with situations you would have otherwise not come across. But you have to remember that it is not only about new experiences. You have to work hard. Being motivated to work when you are living far away from your natural environment is not always easy. This is why it is important to be very interested in your studies and your course. That is the secret to success: working hard for something you are passionate about.
Your interest might not be specific, but you should have a guide for what you really want to do. Having objectives and goals is always a good start! Here’s my top tips…
Search for all the opportunities available online! The various opportunities available with your degree in the working world might impress you. Check the ones that most suit you, depending on language and academic requirements. When you apply for a course in a country that speaks a foreign language, you might need to show that you already have a certain level of skill in this language. For English-speaking countries, you can show this with international exams like IELTS or TOEFL.
It is very important to check the visa requirements for international students! Not every country is the same and the requirements are not always easy to fulfil. You need to visit your chosen country’s immigration website, which sometimes are a bit complicated. For those of you interested in Ireland, visit the INIS website. It is an exception to the rule as it’s very easy to follow.
This is an important step for making the final decision. The laws for international student can be quite harsh in some countries and you need to know what you’re getting in to.
I have heard of some countries which require a lot of money from students to study there legally. Keep your budget in mind. If there is a country with a very good postgraduate program, but the immigration price is high, then maybe consider another option. Trying to find funding can be very frustrating and you could get into an “energy wasting” state easily! So, keep a clear mind about which opportunities are practical.
Most of the postgraduate funding available in European countries are for European students. This is because overseas students (non-EU) pay oversea fees, which are higher. Most scholarships, fellowships, and grants don´t cover non-EU fees.
The Walsh Fellowship (Teagasc) is a funded program in the agri-sector in Ireland which doesn’t differentiate between EU and non-EU students. So, if you are interested in agriculture, this would be a great way for you to study here, regardless of your nationality.
The Cork Institute of Technology has many postgraduate opportunities in different fields. Take a look at their website for more detailed information. They also have the Rísam PhD Scholarship Scheme, which gives complete funding for EU and non-EU students.
Ireland offers a good balance between cost and quality. Courses are at a high standard of education with reasonable fees. Most of the universities also offer health insurance (which is a visa requirement) included in the fees. Ireland also allows you to work 20 hours a week during term time, and full-time during holidays. I personally don´t think that working would be possible with every postgraduate course, but at least you have the option to work, which is an opportunity not given by most European countries.
If you want to study abroad, but the research is daunting, don´t give up on the idea. The perfect opportunity for you just hasn’t appeared yet! Give yourself the time to find the appropriate project or program for you. Don´t rush into such an important and wonderful decision. The best opportunity for you will come!