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Choose the best countries to study abroad

Studying abroad can be a fantastic way to experience different cultures and get a university education at the same time.

The country you choose for study abroad can make a big difference to your study experience, and costs, culture, academic style and even your career progression can depend on your choice.

We discuss several points to consider to help you choose the perfect study destination for you.

Which country suits your lifestyle the best?

When you choose to study abroad, a priority of yours should be to make sure that the country you are planning on traveling to for your studies offers the lifestyle that you want to lead.

If you wish to experience sunny days by the beach while you study, perhaps you should consider a country like Australia for your studies. The universities of Australia are located around the perimeter of the country, with many situated by the east coast of Queensland and New South Wales, and the south coasts of Victoria and South Australia.

If you would like to study in a country that offers beautiful historical towns, allowing you the chance to people watch over a cup of coffee in your leisure time, there are many countries in Europe that can offer you this experience, such as Italy, France, the Netherlands and Germany, which offer fascinating history and varied linked cultures.

Make sure that the country that you pick offers you the culture that you want to experience. Some cities are very culturally diverse, and you will be able to find your niche within them.

Cosmopolitan cities like London in the UK, New York in the UK, Paris in France, Sydney in Australia and Toronto in Canada offer the international student a wide range of cultures to experience and as such, you may find that cultural norms are not as important for you to feel like you fit in.

Where do you dream of traveling?

Traveling abroad for your studies is a great leap and may be influenced by your desire to visit a particular country or region. As well as considering the lifestyle that you wish to lead, this is a great chance to travel to a region or country that you have always wanted to visit.

There are opportunities to study wherever you would like to travel to in the world, from remote peninsulas in Iceland, to Gibraltar on the tip of Spain’s south coast, the Highlands in Scotland and so much more.

What language will you speak while you study abroad?

Depending on your motivations to study abroad, language is a key factor that every international student should consider. Regardless of whether you want your course to be taught in English, French, Spanish, Italian or otherwise, check on the availability of courses taught in the language that you want to learn in.

Though not necessary, studying abroad can be a great way to learn or perfect a second language. If this is something that you wish to do during your studies, make sure that you have sufficient language skills before you choose your top country to study abroad, or consider a pathway course to bring your language skills up to the required level.

Remember that language barriers can exist outsid/choosing-a-university/university-pathway-programs/e of the classroom as well as during your studies, and the opportunity to practice your language skills in a social setting in a new country can really help to improve your skills and confidence.

How much does it cost to live and study in the country

Your ultimate decision on where to study may come down to your budget. Tuition fees, travel costs and living expenses can vary depending on the country that you choose, and even between cities in the same country.

Whilst help with funding towards your education such as bursaries and scholarships do exist, if you don’t qualify for any of these, you must work out if you can afford to live and study in the country of your choice. There is also the option of part time work to consider if you need help to make ends meet during your studies.

We have more information about the costs of studying abroad in our detailed article How much does it cost to study abroad.

Getting a student visa

As an international student, it is likely that you will need to obtain a student visa for the period of your studies. The immigration and student visa process and costs differ between countries, and this is something to consider when deciding upon your chosen country.

It may also be important for you to consider whether you want to stay in the country after you have finished your studies, and each country has different requirements for international students in these circumstances.

Choose the discipline you would like to study

Choosing the subject you would like to study can go a long way to narrowing your choice of study destination. If you want to study a more niche subject area such as Coastal Management, you might find that your best choices are reduced to a handful of locations.

If you wish to study in a very competitive area where competition for the best jobs is fierce, such as Business, you may wish to choose the very best ranked university in that subject for your studies. In this case, you will find that the USA and the UK are more likely to offer you the best choice for your studies.

Compare the standard of education with university rankings

To make sure that you will receive the standard of education that you wish to receive, you may want to review world university rankings. Although these are not the only metric you should consider to pick a study destination, or even a university, they do give a good indication to the strength and quality of education and research in a country.

We have put together a detailed article covering global university rankings that you can use to compare the educational performance and reputation of universities from different countries.

Study experiences of others in this country

Until you travel and begin your studies, you won’t know for sure if your experience will live up to your expectations. One of the best ways to learn more about what it’s like to live and study in a new country is to speak to other people who are already doing it, or have already done it.

Find students at universities you are interested in studying abroad via university websites or student testimonials elsewhere, and really pay attention to their accounts. They may help clarify for you what to expect.

The experiences of students can also be viewed in student satisfaction surveys, such as the 2023 student satisfaction survey from studyportals.

Making your choice

When you have considered all the factors relevant to your choice of study location, it might help you to make a shortlist of your favourite destinations. This will allow you to review any pros and cons of each according to your circumstance, and help you to draw your own conclusion on your ideal countries to study abroad.

You may have already been considering potential university choices by this stage, so now is the time to step up your university search!