Must-know Expert Tips for Choosing the Right School for You
1. Making the Right Choice:
‘When an international student applies to a university it’s a great leap of faith. Unless they have studied there previously and are returning as an alumnus, they are generally relying on second and third-hand reports and claims by the institution itself about the quality of a particular course. Also, students are increasingly looking at world rankings to make a judgment. However, it’s important to keep in mind that several of those ranking systems have flawed methodologies and commercial interests so they’re not foolproof. And whilst Wikipedia is a great tool it would be equally dangerous to base a decision on what is published there and elsewhere on the web.
‘…it’s important to keep in mind that several of those ranking systems have flawed methodologies and commercial interests so they’re not foolproof.’
‘So instead of relying only on word-of-mouth, which is the way most students seem to select their university and direction of study, I recommend they look at the national and international accreditations of the courses and whether they are recognized by professional bodies.
Independent, third party endorsement will help students build up a picture of the relative merits of the courses on their short list that will help them achieve their career goals. Take for example, if it’s a business course you want. Then how many of the international accreditations does the school have (EQUIS?, AACSB?, AMBA?). Is the accounting degree recognized by the professional accounting body?’
2. At the Application Stage:
‘In the process of applying to a university, you might also seek to get a sense of their culture and values to see if they are compatible with yours. Does the admissions office communicate clearly, effectively and in a timely manner? Is their language welcoming or does it put you off? Are they good humoured and friendly? Do they seem to understand and try to meet your needs?
‘If the answer to those questions is “no,” then you will just be setting yourself up for more of the same type of experiences if you choose to study there. Universities have an organizational culture that permeates all of their departments—to a degree. Go with the one that you feel most compatible with.
‘Are they good humoured and friendly? Do they seem to understand and try to meet your needs? …If the answer to those questions is “no,” then you will just be setting yourself up for more of the same type of experiences…’
‘I also find it astonishing that students and parents invest a small fortune in a university degree without satisfying themselves at the outset that the institution is going to be responsive to their needs. Australian universities have been welcoming international students into our programs for many decades and in that time we have built a rich store of knowledge and staff expertise. We know what students need and when they need it.’
3. Final Word of Advice:
‘It’s not possible to give generic advice to new international students as every person is a unique individual, but if I can pass on one suggestion to prospective students coming to study in Australia for the first time it is to follow the Aussie Rule of “Speak up”.
‘It’s important to overcome any cultural predisposition to “suffer in silence”…’
‘It’s not uncommon to find the adjustment to a new country and institution challenging. Just figuring out your monthly budget in a new city is a challenge in itself! But whatever your problem or concern is, whether it’s something that’s impeding your enjoyment of your Australian experience or your program or your academic success, there is bound to be something we at the university can do to assist you through it. It’s important to overcome any cultural predisposition to “suffer in silence” and make your feelings known to a member of staff.
‘Most universities will have a special unit to support international students so that should be your first port of call. That service is always free and confidential. And we will make sure that you can see a counselor of the same gender if you prefer but the main thing is, if we don’t know we can’t help you. After all, these are meant to be the best days of your life and it’s our job as university international offices to ensure they are!’
Our expert, Sharon Tickle, is the Director of International Marketing at the Queensland University of Technology. Their website is: www.qut.edu.au
Images: Courtesy of QUT.