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Strike The Right Chord By Studying Abroad
The trend of studying abroad is the latest fashion followed by students of the world. The asia-pacific region especially india and china is the most lucrative market in the business of international education. And when it comes to studying computer science and engineering, university of queensland in australia is the place to be.
For University of Queenslands Associate Professor Lindsay Sly August 2005 was a departure from schedule as he was on his second trip to India in thirty years.

Visa power
He was joined by hordes of his academic counter-parts from 40 Australian universities who had signed up for the bi-annual Australian education interview program organized by IDP Education Australia in association with the Australian Trade Commission (AUSTRADE) the trade wing of the Australian High Commission.

The Asia-Pacific region especially India and China had always been a highly lucrative market in the business of international education, for the countries exporting/providing educational services such as the UK and the US. However with Australia, scoring pretty well, it has jumped to third in the batting order behind the US and the UK as an important educational destination. The numbers speak for themselves-from about 300 Australian visas issued for students in 1995 the figure has jumped to 21,000 in 2005.

Educating India
What seems to be the attraction? Well, it could be the increased attention paid to India. No small wonder for India is Australias top offshore source of postgraduate students, the top ranked source of Computing Science and Engineering students, and the second-ranked source of higher education students.

Vivienne Pereira, Manager, IDP Mumbai firmly places the credit for the increased awareness of Australian education opportunities at the IDP doors which had began its marketing activities in 1996. The interview exhibition organized bi-annually (March and August) each year, is part of the intensive marketing activities organized by IDP India (owned by 38 prestigious Australian Universities).

For Associate Professor Sly, the interview exhibition had been an interesting exercise. Few of the students have received interview offers from the University of Queensland. The others are informed of their competitiveness and advised as to their career options. We advise them to take up extra studies to revise their grades or maybe direct them to an alternative course that they had not thought about where their qualifications could meet with our requirements," he says.

Apart from such exhibitions, individual efforts are also undertaken by Australian Universities. ForDeakin University (which offers both graduate and post graduate courses in five academic faculties-arts, business and law, education, health and behavioural science and science and technology), the Indian academia is a familiar ground. "We have been here every year from the past seven to eight years and we have found that Indian students are definitely more aware and more informed now," says Ravneet Pawha, Country Director, Deakin India, which was also part of the interview extravaganza organized by the IDP.

Why Australia?
According to Associate Professor Sly, the increase in the number of Indian students is a reflection of the marketing of Australian education among other things. He says, "We see more Indian students waiting to come to Australia, more frequently in the postgraduate courses in the science faculty. There are a whole host of reasons for this for this, maybe it is to change their course direction, upgrade their skills or make themselves more competitive."

For Hussain Vahanvaty, education and immigration counsellor in Sydney, Australia, the attractions are manifold. The lifestyle, the economic viability and the courses that are world class. "Australia excels not in the level of education but the way they deliver it. There are a lot of Americans and Brits who are studying in Australia not because they cannot afford to do so in the US and the UK but simply because they find the education far better in Australia," insists Hussain.

The same point is emphasised by Pawha who points out as an example the Australian way of providing many specializations in one graduate course, for example a Bachelor of Commerce course can have at least 20 specializations. There is also the practice of coupling of courses for example arts plus IT to ensure a better career for the student. "For example the M.Com in India is hugely focused on accounting. In Australia, an M.Com is an MBA without the work experience. We have had Indian students refusing to go in for M.Com because they think it fell under the usual definition, till they saw the listed subjects and realised, this is what we want!" says Pawha.

Courses on the plate
The most popular courses in Australia (among Indian students) are MBA: accounting, finance, marketing, media, hospitality ' commercial cookery, IT, IS, engineering, biotech, public health and physiotherapy. There are no official ranking of Australian universities so students have to do research before selecting their university. "The research should he on the fields they want to study in, and they should look at points such as who is putting in the research funding, which university is working closest to industry, how many graduates of that university find jobs once they have completed their courses, etc. The industry and academic link is most important," feels Hussain.

Many universities trade on the fact that their graduates are industry compatible. Deakins emphasis on its industry relations as a significant factor in its success rate. "It is a real test of how employable our graduates from the industry perspective are. We therefore, in Australia and in India, work in tandem with the industry. In India we have good relations with Indian Chamber of Commerce, organizing seminars and workshops to entail a working partnership with Indian industries," says Ravneet. "Queensland is among the top three universities in the research arena in Australia, very successful in getting research funding/industry funding," Associate Professor Sly.

Students offers
Many universities provide semester/internships offers and long distance education for Indian students. In July 2005, it was business as usual when a team of senior academics and heads of department from the renowned Deakin University of Australia rode in town to sign Memorandums Of Understanding (MOUs) with St. Xaviers and K C College. The MOUs focused on student transfer/internship programs for PG students in St Xaviers and degree students in K C College for the Bachelor of Mass Media and Communication and public relations and the bachelor/masters of arts courses. The students would have the option of completing their final year of respective courses at the Deakin University. The students would then he chosen based on the evaluation by Deakin University.

Job shop
The return on investment is also exhibited as an incentive to do it the Australian way. "Australian graduates are employee across the globe. Besides Australia has opened the doors to permanent residency-giving students the opportunity to work in Australia once they become permanent residents," say Pereira. According to Pahwa, 80 per cent of the students do not come back bur prefer to work in Australia or South East Asia countries, 10 per cent usually return to their owned business and the rest look out for industry jobs back home. However, she says, the job market in India is booming, so there would be more opportunities here. In Australia, for students who want stay back and work in fields like automotive engineering, the health industry, education, finance, ITES, IS, the good news is that these jobs are going strong. "The job market is Australia is good. For students to get a better understanding of jobs available in the market they should be looking at," informs Hussain.

Double degree
However, if you have opted for an MBA in order to work in Australia, think again. There is a concept of a double degree in Australia, which most overseas students have not yet comprehended. "For example an engineering student would also get a degree in commerce before joining the workforce. An MBA happens later when he /she is maybe in her 30s after a good five to seven years of working experience, it is seen as the next step in his/her career. So an MBA in Australia means that you are applying for senior management posts unlike Indian students, who go in for an MBA post graduation, and get into entry-level management posts," details Pahwa.

Those who intend to stay can apply for permanent residency status once they have finished their studies. "Students usually use their coming over to study to embrace Permanent Residency (PR). A PR allows a student to work once they have completed their studies. If a student lives in Australia for two years out of the five years (this is the duration of the visa) they then become eligible to apply for citizenship," informs Hussain.
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