Best University or Right Course? Calculating the return on investment of education abroad

It is important to assess the return on investment of education abroad.

Return, investment, education abroad, Best university, course
Contrary to conventional belief, more than half of Indian students favour specialised courses over the prestige of universities.

By Matthew Mclean

India is witnessing unprecedented growth in the number of students aspiring to obtain higher education abroad. Indicating a tremendous change, India has left China behind when it comes to students enrolling in study programmes abroad. The Indian Education Ministry shows that in 2022 alone, 770,000 Indian students went to study overseas, a six-year high level.

Even though it requires such a significant financial commitment, higher education abroad never seems to lose its appeal. Experts in the career counselling industry are bullish on the growth in demand for higher education abroad in the coming years despite the financial intricacies involved in a student’s study abroad journey and transpiring economic downturns in many parts of the world.

Foreign education is already an expensive endeavour, but it can get more complicated if a student’s chances of finding employment and residence are compromised for an array of reasons, such as the ongoing global economic slowdown, challenges obtaining work visas, cutbacks in hiring across key industries, and a lack of strong prior academic credentials.

Coupling this fear with the looming student debt can be quite a toll. In order to thoroughly assess the return on investment (ROI) of education abroad, parents and students must weigh the career and life opportunities that come from studying abroad.

If getting into Ivy Leagues is important, it is of equal importance that students seek the course that has the strongest career opportunities. A study by the Western Union suggests that contrary to conventional belief, more than 50% of Indian students favour specialised courses over the prestige of universities.

This happens because specialised courses also known as vocational courses provide students with the opportunity to work in fields with huge information asymmetries i.e., work domains that require specific skills that are not commonly possessed but pay well.

The changing dynamics in science & tech and the business world make AI and Machine Learning courses more worthy of pursuing. The tuition fee for MS in Artificial Intelligence in the USA is around 26,000-82,000 USD depending on the university students choose. The average annual AI engineer salary in the US is over $110K. Whereas the annual AI engineer salary in Canada is over 85,000 C$ on average.

MBA and other business courses remain the top advisable courses as well. For MBA in Canada, the average tuition fee ranges between $30,000 – $40,000 per annum, which is considered more affordable than in other study-abroad destinations.

An MBA degree fetches anywhere from 50k to 110k USD in salaries. Owing to changed consumer attitudes and policy shifts at industry and governance levels in recent times, Climate Change, Energy Management, Data and Business Analytics, Cybersecurity and Digital Marketing are gaining huge popularity and pay handsomely.
Depending on the university or college for Masters in Environmental Engineering in Canada, the total program may cost between 29,925-62,997 CAD and the degree may get you a salary package of 38000 to 80000 CAD per annum.

The return in terms of salary after completing a degree from an international university is often higher than the cost which gives students a perfect financial cushion to complete their loans on time while maintaining a fair standard of living.

Apart from the choice of courses, cost-benefit analysis, career possibilities, and educational quality are some of the other most important considerations when deciding whether to attend a foreign institution since they help students get the most out of the investment.

Deliberations on the whole cost of the degree, including tuition, living expenses, etc., the number of loans, scholarships, family contributions, and any supplemental cash a student would need to pay off the aforementioned expenditures, are all part of a thorough examination of the returns as well.

If a student intends to borrow from banks, knowing the loan’s terms—including whether it will be in dollars or subject to currency fluctuations—interest rate, moratorium, and investment opportunities—can help them get a better return on investment.

(Author is Co-Founder, and CEO of Halp. co)

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First published on: 07-05-2023 at 07:07 IST