Finding a university abroad

Tempted to study abroad? Here are a few steps to start your study abroad process:

1. You're an individual

There is no one size that fits all when it comes to university so it's important you choose the right one for you. What are your reasons for studying abroad? What are your priorities in a university? What languages are you comfortable in and what are your longer-term study or professional objectives? Are there any academic or cultural considerations more important to you? Have you got extra-curricular considerations? What lifestyle do you want? How are you going to finance your studies and will you need funding from a bank or an undergraduate scholarship? Work out what you want and find a university and course that suits you.

2. Research

Armed with a vision of what you are aiming for, you need to set about researching countries, universities and courses on offer. No worldwide list of universities exists but there are a few places to start. The Top Universities Guide provides a directory with full contact details of the top 500 universities worldwide. It also includes ranking of universities by subject specialization. TopUniversities.com, home to the QS World University Rankings, also provides lots of useful information and direct links that will help you begin to search the worldwide web and get some of your first impressions.

3. Which country?

Fundamental to studying abroad must be the desire to spend time in another country. If you can shortlist or identify your country, then you have a starting point for identifying possible universities to apply to. Countries such as Australia and New Zealand are popular choices for study and many of their universities are among the top 400 in the world. Once you have short listed your country, you can identify some of the national organizations, such as UCAS in the UK, who can point you in the right direction for providers of scholarships and further information to refine your search.

4. Face to face

When searching worldwide for a university that is right for you, there is no substitute for coming face to face with people from that university. Clearly it will most often not be feasible to actually visit the university before applying. However, each university has an alumni association, often with an international network, so try to identify alumni who may be willing and able to meet you closer to home and give you that all-important feel of what it's like to actually study at their university. The QS Top Universities Tour, which comes to India this month, provides an opportunity to meet with representatives of some of the world's top universities.

5. Open mind

Your key to finding the university and course which is right for you is to keep an open mind. Identify your priorities, research your options and talk to people. You are about to embark on one of the most exciting and important experiences of your life. So let the search begin!