Guide to US Applications • Undergraduate

Beyond the US, UK and Canada: Unique Study Abroad Destinations

POSTED ON 06/19/2023 BY The Red Pen

Student excited about studying abroad

The past decades have seen unprecedented growth in students choosing to study abroad for higher education. According to a study by Holon IQ in 2019, there were 5 million international students, representing 196 Billion USD of direct annual expenditure. They expect this annual expenditure to double by 2030. While global education may have faced challenges during the pandemic, it is roaring back to life. ICEF Monitor forecasts that there will be 1.8 million Indian students abroad by 2024. While the US, the UK and Canada remain popular destinations for higher education abroad, students are now looking at other options. Below is an overview of emerging destinations to pursue an undergraduate degree:

1) Study in Singapore:

In recent years, Singapore has become a sought-after destination for higher education, attracting 50,000 international students in 2022. The main reason is a change in the country’s educational system. Moving away from the traditional rote learning method, Singaporean universities now encourage critical thinking, research and innovation. It is also home to several international universities, such as Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, James Cook University, Singapore and Embry – Riddle Aeronautical University, Singapore.

Apart from high school grades, standardised test results and scores for English language proficiency tests, some undergraduate courses have individual subject prerequisites and entrance exams. For example, Industrial Design at the National University of Singapore requires IBDP students to take mathematics, physics or chemistry at the Standard Level, an entrance test and an interview.

Due to the absence of a centralised application platforms, students must send applications to individual universities and declare their major at the time of application. Changing majors in Singapore is difficult, so you should be sure of your chosen subject before committing to a course.

The tuition fee for colleges in Singapore are higher than those in other Asian countries but comparatively lower than in the US and the UK. 

Undergraduate applications in Singapore: A brief overview

Number of years 3 or 4
High School Grades IBDP: ≅ 38 and above

Other boards: ≅  90-95 

Considers grade 10, 11 and 12 mid-term results

Entrance exams/prerequisite subjects Vary per course
SAT/ACT  May be required for students from non-IBDP curricula
IELTS/ TOEFL Required for specific courses
Centralised application portal None
Application documents  Personal statement essay, a resume, letters of recommendation, mark sheets, test scores. However, some institutions, like the National University of Singapore, also require reflective essays
Application deadlines  February to March
Application decisions  May-July
Tuition fees ≅ USD 30,000 to 50,000 per year for international students. Non-subsidised
Work restrictions 16 hours during the term and full-time during vacation
Post-study work visa Long Term Visit Pass granted for 12 months

2) Study in Hong Kong:

In 2012, universities in this city began offering three-to-four-year undergraduate degree programmes, adding General Education as a requirement. On par with the education quality at popular education destinations, such as the UK, US and Europe, Hong Kong is another hot option in Asia for international education. 

For undergraduate studies in Hong Kong, applications are made to individual universities for up to five courses of study.  Admissions officers in these universities look at applications holistically. They consider both academic scores and non-academic factors during the admission process. Therefore, it is crucial to work on writing a solid personal statement. Only one personal statement is required per university, irrespective of the number of programmes a student chooses. 

Other than prerequisites such as high school grades, optional standardised test results and scores for language proficiency tests, some undergraduate courses have individual requirements. For example, courses like the International Research Enrichment (IRE) Programme at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology includes a compulsory interview. 

Undergraduate applications in Hong Kong: A brief overview

Number of years 4 years
High School Grades IBDP: ≅ 38-42 points

Other boards: ≅ 80-95 percent 

Considers grade 10 results

Entrance exams/prerequisite subjects Vary per course
SAT/ACT  Optional with a few exceptions
IELTS/ TOEFL Recommended but not compulsory;  Proof of proficiency in a second language may be required. 
Centralised application portal None
Application documents  Personal statement essay, resume, details of extracurricular activities, letters of recommendation
Application deadlines  Between September and August
Application decisions  Between December and February
Tuition fees ≅ USD 11,500 to 34,000 per year
Work restrictions “No Objection Letter” to work up to 20 hours a week on-campus and part-time employment during the summer months
Post-study work visa Students can apply for a visa under the Immigration Arrangements for Non-Local Graduates

3) Study in France:

Unlike in the past, universities in France recognise most Indian qualifications. Better still, France has introduced several courses in English, including 125 undergraduate programmes. 

In France, Licence (L1, L2, L3) is an undergraduate degree awarded after completing six semesters over three years. International students must make a Demande d’Admission Préalable (DAP), a preliminary request for admission. 

Most undergraduate programmes here do not have subject prerequisites; however, exceptions exist. For example, the Bachelor of Science degree at the École Polytechnique requires students to have taken advanced mathematics courses and at least one advanced science course. Most universities in France will require an online or in-person interview. Since courses are in English, students may also have to submit IELTS or TOEFL scores. Applications are made to a specific programme, which a student cannot change at a later date. 

Students can apply to a maximum of seven universities via Campus France–a centralised national agency for admissions. Campus France covers most of the universities in the country. However, some universities require individual applications. Admissions officers in France primarily focus on the academic performance of students. But some programmes may involve non-academic factors. 

Undergraduate applications in France: A brief overview

Number of years 3 years 
High School Grades IBDP: ≅ 34+

Other boards:  ≅ 80 percent and above.

Varies as per the university

Entrance exams/prerequisite subjects None, with a few exceptions 
SAT/ACT  Not required
Centralised application portal Campus France and direct college applications
Application documents  Personal statement, resume, motivation for selecting that specific programme, academic reference letters, all official high school transcripts
Application deadlines  Between October and March
Application decisions  Between January and  April 
Tuition fees Public universities:  ≅ USD 3,000 per year

Private universities: ≅ USD 10,000-40,000 per year

Work restrictions International students can work 964 hours a year
Post-study work visa Post graduation, students can stay for two years to gain work experience

4) Study in The Netherlands:

The Dutch educational system is acknowledged worldwide for its well-designed, modern courses and facilities. The teaching style focuses on teamwork, which makes it easy for international students to integrate into academic life. In 2006, there were 31,500 international students enrolled in universities in the Netherlands, but by 2021, the number had more than tripled to 115,100 international students. Students considering The Netherlands for their higher education can choose from more than 2,100 programmes taught in English. Read more about whether you should consider The Netherlands for undergraduate studies. 

Universities in The Netherlands have two main categories:

  • Research universities offer three-year theoretical academic courses that students can apply across various professions. Many Dutch research universities also give students access to university colleges, similar to the liberal arts colleges in the US. 
  • Universities of applied sciences offer four-year career-focused courses oriented towards specific professions. 

Most courses will also have certain prerequisite subjects. For example, the Bachelor of Computer Science and Engineering at the Delft University of Technology requires IBDP students to have studied Higher Level mathematics. Some programmes, such as Business Administration at the University of Amsterdam, will require students to appear for an entrance exam. In contrast, others may require students to be ‘matched’ with their programme through various assignments. 

Undergraduate applications in The Netherlands: A brief overview

Number of years 3 or 4 years
High School Grades IBDP:  ≅  24 and above

Other boards:  ≅ 75 percent and above

Entrance exams/prerequisite subjects Vary per course
SAT/ACT  SAT and SAT subject tests required by some universities
IELTS/ TOEFL Required 
Centralised application portal Studielink
Application documents  High school transcripts, resume, motivation letter and a letter of recommendation
Application deadlines  Typically April. Some selective programmes in January
Application decisions  March-May
Tuition fees ≅ USD 6,500-16,000 per year.
Work restrictions Students can work for 16 hours a week and full-time during the summer
Post-study work visa After graduation, students can apply for a five-year residence permit to look for work

5) Study in Germany:

The number of international students in Germany is constantly rising. According to a snapshot survey in 2021 by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), despite the Covid-19 pandemic, approximately 330,000 international students enrolled at German universities, of which 128,000 enrolled for a bachelor’s degree. This country is one of the leading destinations for higher education. 

There are two types of institutions in Germany:

  • Universities: These institutions focus on science, theoretical knowledge and research. They usually offer various subjects, but those with a specific focus call themselves technical universities (Technische Universität) or colleges of education (Pädagogische Hochschule, PH). The TU9 is the alliance of leading technology universities in Germany.
  • Fachhochschulen (FH) or Technische Hochschule (TH): These are institutions for applied sciences that have a practice-oriented academic approach. They focus more on professional application than on theory. Their subjects comprise specific fields such as technology, economics, social work or media. Typically, these institutions only hire professors with work experience and connections with industries in Germany and around the world. They do not select professors who only have a PhD. 

Students must showcase their proficiency in both languages if the programme is taught in English and German. Programmes at private universities, such as Mechanical Engineering at the Carl Benz School of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, also require students to submit SAT scores. Some universities need a certified translation of the subjects and marks if they are not in English. 

Depending on the institution, students can apply to universities directly or via the uni-assist portal, an online centralised application platform. Some universities may require students to fill in a university-specific application form while using the uni-assist portal. Indian, Chinese and Vietnamese students, who do not have an IBDP or A Level, need the APS Certification before they can apply to a German university. 

Undergraduate applications in Germany: A brief overview

Number of years 3 or 4 years
High School Grades IBDP:  ≅ 24-33 (Doesn’t recognise IBCP)

A Level: Minimum grade requirement is C. But varies as per undergraduate course

Does not consider other education boards or the IBCP

Entrance exams/prerequisite subjects IBDP students: 

  • Language A SL/HL (usually English)
  • Language B preferably HL (German, French, Hindi, Spanish) NO ab initio language
  • One science or Math at the HL level
  • Once social science or humanities

A Level Students: 

Must take 3 A Level subjects and 1 AS-level subject. These subjects must include: 

  • One language
  • Mathematics or one of the natural sciences (biology, chemistry, or physics).

Other curricula: Two-semester preparatory course and then give an oral and written entrance exam called Feststellungsprüfung (FSP). Students may also study in their home country for an additional year and skip the preparatory course. Those with JEE Main and Advance ranks may also skip the introductory course

SAT/ACT  Required for certain courses
Centralised application portal Many universities use uni-assist, but not all. 
Application documents  Mark sheets and transcripts, letter of motivation and resume. Letters of recommendation and extracurricular activity certificates are usually not required. 

Public universities may need the relevant state board of education to provide a Statement of Comparability.

Application deadlines  April intake: January

October intake: July

Application decisions  2-4 weeks after application
Tuition fees Public Universities: ≅ 3,400 USD for non-EU students in only two states, Bavaria and Baden-Wuerttemberg. In other states, all students pay only a small administrative fee of ≅ 600 USD

Private Universities: ≅ 25,000 USD for non-EU students

Work restrictions Students can work for 120 days or 240 half days in the year
Post-study work visa After graduation, international students can stay for 18 months to look for a job. If successful, they can apply for a resident/work permit

6) Study in Australia:

Australia is a leading destination for higher education. The number of international students in Australia  totalled 527,259 for the January-July 2022 period, of which 96,000 are Indian students. Apart from the 43 universities (40 Australian universities, two international universities, and one private speciality university), several other institutions in the country offer higher education courses.

At the undergraduate level, it is common in Australia for students to take double or combined degrees, choosing two subjects such as arts and science, arts and law, or commerce and engineering. Degrees typically take three years, but combined courses and some specific subjects, such as pharmacy, can take up to five years. 

There is no centralised application system. Therefore, students must apply to each university directly. Remember that academic calendars in the southern hemisphere are different. Semesters in the US, UK, Canada and Europe usually begin between August and September. However, in Australia, they start in February or July. Therefore, application deadlines also differ. 

Australia recognises the IB curriculum and India’s CBSE, ISC and state board curricula. However, international students‘ eligibility requirements and admission procedures depend on the course and course provider. For example, the Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) programme at the Australian National University requires a 31 in the IBDP or an 87 percent in the ISC. Prerequisite subjects include mathematics and physics. 

Undergraduate applications in Australia: A brief overview

Number of years 3 to 5 years 
High School Grades IBDP:  ≅ 29 and above

Other boards: ≅ 87 percent and above

Entrance exams/prerequisite subjects Vary as per programme. Some courses require maths

Requires entrance exams and interviews 

SAT/ACT  Recommended but not compulsory
Centralised application portal None
Application documents  High school transcripts from grade 10, personal statement, letters of recommendation and information about extracurricular activities. 
Application deadlines  July intake: June

February intake: January

Application decisions  Rolling decisions
Tuition fees USD 20,000-40,000 per year
Work restrictions Students can work up to 40 hours a fortnight and over 40 hours during breaks. 
Post-study work visa After graduation, students can apply for a Temporary Graduate visa, which has two streams to choose from: the Graduate Work stream and the Post-Study Work stream. After it expires, students must apply for a permanent work visa

7) Study in the UAE:

The UAE has emerged as a surprise destination for higher education, attracting thousands of international students thanks to strategic plans for 2017-2021 by the Ministry of Education. Additionally, in January 2021, the Government offered longer-term residence and permission, making UAE an attractive destination to live and pursue an education. The international universities of the United Arab Emirates are another massive attraction, allowing students to pursue a world-class education at a lower cost. Here are some of the undergraduate universities: 

  • American University of Sharjah
  • Middlesex University
  • The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
  • The University of Wollongong
  • Canadian University of Dubai
  • Heriot-Watt University
  • New York University
  • Paris-Sorbonne 
  • University of Birmingham

To secure admission, students will require high grades along with course-specific prerequisites. For example, for a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science – Artificial Intelligence at The British University in Dubai, applicants must score 65 percent overall and 65 percent in mathematics, chemistry or biology. Some universities require transcripts to be attested by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the UAE Embassy in the student’s country. 

Undergraduate applications in the UAE: A brief overview

Number of years 3 to 4 years
High School Grades IBDP: 24 points and above

Other boards: 65 percent and above

Entrance exams/prerequisite subjects Some courses might require specific subjects
SAT/ACT  Required for some courses 
Centralised application portal None
Application documents  High school grades, letters of recommendation, essays and extracurricular activities
Application deadlines  October-July
Application decisions  November-August
Tuition fees USD 17,000-60,000
Work restrictions Students must apply for a part-time work permit, and the number of hours will be mentioned if successful.
Post-study work visa A student has a GPA of 3.75/4 or above can apply for a five-year long-term visa without a sponsor. Once they have full-time employment, they must change the university-sponsored permit to an employer-sponsored visa.

While options are abundant, selecting the right destination for higher education depends on your goals. Here’s everything you need to know about applying to a foreign university and some advice from undergraduate admissions officers. Please get in touch with our global education consultants if you need guidance with country selection, shortlisting universities, or any aspect of your application.