Advice| Studying abroad | Pros and cons

Studying abroad

 

Are you considering studying abroad? Each of the countries to which most of Czech students go has its advantages and disadvantages. We have prepared for you an easy-to-navigate summary on studying in the UK, the US, Germany, Austria, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Ireland.
 

United Kingdom
 

The United Kingdom is one of the most frequent destinations for students seeking education in English-speaking countries. It is the most accessible destination for university studies in the English-speaking world. The diploma is internationally renowned, and the education is not just theoretical, as it combines theory with practice. Many universities offer fields of study with programmes that already include one-year work experience, which is an unquestionable advantage for students after graduation.
 
Advantages
  • The most accessible English-speaking destination for university studies
  • The distance to the UK allows students to visit the various universities before making their final decision
  • Students who complete their studies with the IB exam need not sit for language exams
  • A great range of fields of study in English (including some highly specific ones)
  • High-quality education focused on applying theory in practice (the government oversees the standards of universities)
  • Internationally recognised education
  • Success rate of graduates on the labour market after graduation exceeds 95%
  • Graduates often find jobs in good positions within six months of graduation
  • Students gain international experience and improve their English (having to use English both at school and outside)
  • Most universities guarantee lodging in the first year of enrolment
  • Rich student life – universities offer many extracurricular activities
  • Offer of support for students during their enrolment – academic aptitudes, essay writing, CV writing, selecting appropriate work experience posts, etc.
  • Easy-to-navigate and unified system of filing applications
  • Cost of application fees – lower than in the Czech Republic (a little over £20 for five applications)
  • Studying in Scotland is free if certain conditions are met (this condition is in fact just sending a request for waiver of the school fees by June of the respective year – more information on http://www.saas.gov.uk/)
  • Student loan option for school fees (applies to EU students) from the UK Government on very good terms, and easy to do (filling in an application)
  • Loans do not fall due until students are earning their own income in excess of £21,000/year (specified for each country based on the current local average wage, etc.)
  • Cost of living (except for accommodation and services) comparable to that in the Czech Republic
  • Opportunity to work while in school
  • Option of obtaining paid work experience posts as part of the programme (often abroad)

Disadvantages
  • Admission is very difficult for Medicine and Dentistry
  • Studying is very costly (except for Scotland) unless students want to take out a student loan; usually £9,000/year
  • Accommodation in the UK is relatively expensive (and London is up to several times more expensive than other destinations)
  • Students occasionally complain that breaking into the local student community is difficult
  • Number of applications is limited to five (or four for Medicine and Dentistry)
  • One standardised application with one personal essay is sent to the chosen universities, so it is not possible to choose vastly different fields of study as the student might wish
  • Grants for EU students are severely limited
  • It is necessary to fly over in person for admission interviews, if any
  • Communication with university representatives can be protracted
 
 

The US
 

Studying in the US is many students’ dream. Although rather distant, this destination is nevertheless very popular and offers many advantages. First, excellent international experience is offered, because the makeup of the population and, in particular, of international students at universities is very diverse. Universities are diverse as well; truly everyone can find what they are interested in (although the search process and the admission process can take a lot of time). Students need not choose their specific field of study at the university in the first year; they can do so in the course of their studies, which fact is especially attractive to many students.

Advantages
  • Excellent international experience (many universities like to boast of the large number of countries from which their students hail)
  • Students improve their English (having to use English both at school and outside)
  • An enormous choice of universities, a varying quality of education, a great choice of fields of study
  • Highly flexible system – choice of major and minor subjects, various combinations thereof, your own schedule based on your interests and preferences
  • No need to choose a field of study when submitting the application: just state a preference and then choose the specific field of study at any point in the first two years
  • IB students with very good results can “skip” certain subjects, thereby shortening their enrolment time (and making it more affordable too)
  • Some universities (mostly those termed need-blind) offer grants covering up to 100% of school fees and cost of living
  • Opportunity to win relatively generous athletic grants (certain sports only)
  • Rich student life – universities offer many extracurricular activities, internships, workshops, lectures...
  • Support systems for current students– academic workshops, essay writing, CV writing, selecting appropriate internships, etc.
  • Most universities can guarantee lodging for international students throughout their enrolment
  • Relatively easy-to-navigate and unified system of applications
  • Admission interviews can be conducted via Skype, or an alumnus visits the applicant in person (alumni often conduct the interviews)
  • Usually excellent and quick communication with university representatives
  • SAT/ACT tests can be retaken to improve results (they are similar to our ‘NSZ’ tests, which are inspired by the SAT/ACT)

Disadvantages
  • Greater culture shock than in European destinations
  • A distant destination – most students cannot visit the universities in advance; travelling to the US and back to the Czech Republic is costly
  • In most cases you must sit for the difficult (and costly) SAT/ACT admission tests
  • Studies take four years, and so higher costs are to be expected
  • The quality of education can vary across universities (state/private schools, different states)
  • Very detailed application forms that take a lot of time to complete
  • Application fees (unless a university offers a fee waiver) are $50 (per application form) on average
  • International students cannot take out government loans to cover school fees or cost of living
  • School fees and cost of living range from $20,000 to $70,000 per year
  • International students are not allowed to work officially during their enrolment (except on the university campus)
 
 

The Netherlands


The Netherlands has recently become quite a popular destination in which to study, in particular for European students. The reasons include the relatively low school fees, a cost of living comparable with that in the Czech Republic (except for services and accommodation) and also a large number of fields of study taught in English at Dutch universities. The universities themselves have recently boosted their promotion of studying in this destination. The Netherlands is also a destination that suits students who prefer a laid-back lifestyle and smaller cities.

Advantages
  • The destination is close for students from the Czech Republic
  • The proximity to the Netherlands allows students to visit the various universities before making their final decision
  • Many universities offer programmes in English (a relatively broad assortment)
  • Apparent effort to attract international students by offering programmes in English and through promotion at student trade fairs, etc.
  • Students who pass the IB exam need not take language exams
  • A relatively low IB score suffices for admission
  • Internationally recognised education focused on the application of theory in practice
  • Students gain international experience and improve their English, and they can learn the basics of another language
  • Most of the country’s population speaks fairly good English and German
  • Some universities offer many extracurricular activities (although this cannot be compared to the range offered by universities in the UK or schools in the US)
  • Applications are usually easy to complete (essays and recommendations are sometimes not required)
  • Relatively affordable fees (around €2,000 per year for most universities and fields of study). Recently, the fees for EU students in the first year have been reduced to about €1,000 per year. The current information should be checked for the chosen university at all times. 
  • Cost of living comparable to that in the Czech Republic (except for accommodation and services)
  • Possibility to work during enrolment
  • Easy urban transport: cycling
     
Disadvantages
  • Absence of a unified system and dates for application submission across universities (the Studylink single application hub, then each university has its own part of the application)
  • Communication with university representatives can be protracted and somewhat inefficient
  • Since the school fees are very low, universities usually do not offer need-based grants to EU students
 
 

Germany and Austria


Germany and Austria are popular academic destinations for Czech students for an obvious reason – the countries are our closest neighbours, and studying in the countries is free of charge or very inexpensive (this can vary across the federal Lands), except for a small entry fee. The environment is ideal for students who want to study in German. Those who consider studying in English should know that the range of fields of study taught in English is very limited.

Advantages
  • The closest neighbours of the Czech Republic, and offering high-quality education
  • The distance to both destinations allows students to visit the various universities before making their final decision
  • Students who pass the IB exam need not take language exams
  • Internationally recognised education
  • Students gain international experience and improve their English, and they can learn the basics of another language
  • A considerable part of the population can speak some English, and so communication in Germany and Austria is possible even without speaking German, although knowledge of German is a great advantage there (as opposed to the Netherlands)
  • Studying at State universities is free (or inexpensive)
  • Cost of living comparable to that the Czech Republic (except for accommodation and services)
  • Possibility to work during enrolment
 
Disadvantages
  • A very limited range of fields of study in English (often at private universities only, which are very costly)
  • Programmes in English can be subject to a charge (similar to the Czech Republic)
  • No unified system for submitting applications
  • Universities often continue to be quite academic in the sense they may not have very close relationships to real-life practice
  • No apparent effort to attract international students – which is reflected in the low number of programmes offered in English (even the students who want to take a programme in English have to attach documents in German to their applications) and meagre promotion of the destinations
 
 

Switzerland

 
Switzerland is unquestionably an attractive destination; however, students from our country are not very familiar with it, even though the country is quite close to ours. Hospitality and hotel operation and management are perhaps the most attractive fields of study in Switzerland for students from the Czech Republic; the programmes were invented in that country, and they have a long tradition and an excellent reputation there. However, if you plan to study in the country of cheese and chocolate, you must expect quite high costs of both enrolment and living, the latter being among the highest in Europe.
 
Advantages
  • An easy-to-access destination for Czech students, thanks to its proximity
  • The proximity to Switzerland allows students to visit the various universities before making their final decision
  • Switzerland offers first-rate (arguably the best and the oldest) programmes in hospitality and the related hotel operation and management
  • Universities focusing on programmes in the hospitality business offer many programmes in English
  • Schools apparently try to attract international students to take these programmes – visits to schools, promotion at student trade fairs, etc.
  • Students who pass the IB exam need not take language exams
  • A relatively low IB score suffices for admission
  • The best possible international education in hospitality and hotel operation and management, with strong ties between theory and practice
  • Students obtain international experience and improve their English while being able to learn other languages (German, French... depending on the university’s location)
  • Universities targeting international students offer many extracurricular activities
  • Applications are not difficult to fill out
  • Communication with university representatives is very efficient
 
Disadvantages
  • Varying systems and dates for submitting applications across universities
  • School fees range from CHF 40,000 to 70,000 per year (depending on work experience postings), and other education-related expenditure should be expected on top of that
  • Grants usually do not cover a significant portion of school fees
  • Cost of living very much higher than in the Czech Republic (in all respects)
 
 

Ireland

 
Ireland is a somewhat unjustly neglected destination; it has much in common with the UK, although there are also a number of differences. Ireland has a high profile as a safe and friendly country with a high percentage of young people (up to 34% of people are under 25). The university system in Ireland has been following a new strategy in recent years (since 2010), attempting to attract students from the EU and other international students. The Irish government has invested considerable amounts in innovating universities. Other attractions include relatively low school fees and cost of living.
 
Advantages
  • Easily accessible English-speaking destination for university studies
  • The distance to Ireland allows students to visit the various universities before making their final decision
  • A relatively broad choice of fields of study in English, although you have to take into consideration the size of the country (a population of 4.4 million, seven state-run universities)
  • High-quality education focused on the application of theory in practice
  • Universities are modern and refurbished; you can see at first sight the effort to improve university education in Ireland and to attract international students
  • Internationally recognised education
  • Students gain international experience and improve their English (having to use English both at school and outside)
  • Students who pass the IB exam need not take language exams
  • Admission requires a lower IB score than at many universities in the UK
  • Rich student life – universities offer many extracurricular activities
  • Intensive support is provided during enrolment (essay writing, encouragement in English learning, etc.)
  • Quite simple and consistent system of application submission (but it is advisable to check for any additional requirements of the various universities)
  • Many universities require only an application and the results of the final exam (school-leaving exam or IB) – often, no essay or recommendations are required
  • The application submission fee is around €30 on timely submission, and €40 on late submission
  • Low cost of living (among the lowest in the EU, lower than in the UK)
  • Costs of studying for international students vary greatly (from school to school); EU students pay only a student contribution of €3,000 per year
  • Opportunity to work during enrolment
  • Option of paid internships as part of the programme (often outside Ireland)

Disadvantages
  • Although studying there is not as costly as in the UK, student loans are not an option
  • The student learns of the results of the admission procedure only in the second half of August
 
 
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