Studying Abroad in Asia Becomes a Popular Choice

Posted By Marisa Sanfilippo on July 11, 2017 at 3:16 pm
Studying Abroad in Asia Becomes a Popular Choice

To our readers: More than 1 million U.S. students studied abroad in 2015-16, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Today, GoodCall® examines two overlooked study-abroad options. First, we look at studying abroad in Asia; later today, the focus is on how community college abroad makes sense for some students.


Studying abroad in Asia can be a great opportunity for students who are fully prepared for the challenges of the adventure. More than 1 million American students studied abroad during the 2015-16 academic year, according to the Institute of International Education.

More than half of those students choose countries in Europe as their destination. The only non-European country in the top 10 is China, according to U.S. News, though Japan and India also have become leading destinations as students look to different landing places for college.

Top countries for studying abroad in Asia

Part of having a successful experience begins in choosing an educational institution that will best fulfill your long-term goals. Top Universities has published its QS University Rankings for Asia every year since 2009. The rankings are based on:

  • Academic reputation
  • Employer reputation
  • Faculty/student ratio
  • Citations per paper
  • Papers per faculty
  • Staff with a Ph.D.
  • International faculty
  • International students
  • Inbound exchange students
  • Outbound exchange students

The top 10 Asian universities from this ranking are:

  • National University of Singapore
  • The University of Hong Kong
  • Nanyan Technological University, Singapore
  • The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
  • Tsinghua University
  • Korea Advanced Institute of Science & Technology
  • City University of Hong Kong
  • The Chinese University of Hong Kong
  • Peking University
  • Seoul National University

Pete McAllister, from Educators UK, notes the leading countries for English-speaking students studying abroad tend to be in Singapore and Hong Kong. He explains, “Both of these countries have well established ex-pat communities and so there are great English speaking education facilities from elementary level through to higher education.”

Studying abroad in one of the Asian countries with a strong English presence gives students a soft landing. Those who are more interested in an immersive experience in a different culture may prefer one of the universities in mainland China.

Reasons for studying abroad in Asia

Educators and study-abroad students tell GoodCall® there are solid reasons for studying abroad in Asia:

Santa J. Ono, president of the University of British Columbia, says Asia presents students with a number of opportunities. “Studying abroad in Asia is particularly attractive because of the dynamic growth of this region as a economic, cultural and intellectual center,” Ono says. “The universities in this region are climbing the ranks of the world’s best universities and provide outstanding educational, research and cultural opportunities. Asian universities are also actively looking to welcome international students.”

Gabby Beckford studied abroad in Dubai for nine months and advises fellow students to consider it. “The Middle East being included in greater ‘Asia’ is a good reason we study abroad … because the countries included in the continent are so diverse culturally and geographically,” Beckford says. “Another reason is general affordability (yes, possible even in Dubai), the diverse cultures you interact with on a daily basis, and in my opinion the warm weather. And finally, one of the main reasons to study abroad is to explore the surrounding countries and regions while abroad, which is very easy to do in Asia.”

As the world economy continues to become more integrated, the value of being bilingual grows. Studying abroad makes it easier for students to gain true fluency in a foreign language and allows them to create an international personal and professional network.

Another benefit is the relatively inexpensive cost of obtaining a degree in Hong Kong or another Asian city. The cost of tuition, fees, housing, and living expenses all tend to be dramatically lower abroad.

Studies have shown extended multicultural engagement predicts later career success. In part, this is due to an increased ability to think critically and to adapt to new situations more readily. The skills which are learned by living in a new culture are exactly those which are most in demand by many companies.

Safety and security when studying abroad in Asia

Even in the U.S., college can be a dangerous place. So it’s important to consider safety and security when studying abroad in Asia.

First, remember customs, laws, and public safety are different in other countries. In some cases, the laws will be stricter and Americans may need to modify their behavior to avoid inadvertently breaking local laws.

In other cases, freedoms and customs that are the norm in the states will be frowned upon or even illegal. It’s also possible that one’s personal safety will be compromised.

Paul Viollis, CEO of security company Viollis Group International, says, “Wherever you travel, safety and an awareness of your surroundings should be your first priority. Be sure to buy a data plan that won’t leave you without phone service in case of an emergency.”

When studying abroad in Asia or any other part of the world, it is important to take the time to become familiar with the laws, customs, and security status of the locations in which you will be spending your time.

Remain open when studying abroad in Asia

Dr. Luz Claudio, author of How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, is a professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and director of several international internships. She has sent hundreds of students abroad and had insight for students interested in studying abroad.

She said, “I think that the most successful students in international programs have one thing in common: They have a curious and open mind.” She further described some of the key characteristics needed to succeed in international educational experiences.

  • They expect to learn new things.
  • They look forward to new experiences that are different from what they experience at home.
  • They enjoy being in a place where things are done differently.

Similarly, the students who find it more challenging to study in a foreign country also have several characteristics in common. They expect to maintain their habits and routines. They expect to be able to communicate primarily in English. They expect easy access to their favorite foods and drinks.

Claudio explained, “Study abroad experiences can be uncomfortable for students who are not open to new situations.”

Marisa Sanfilippo
Marisa is an award-winning marketing professional who loves to write. During the day, she wears her marketing hat in her marketing director role and at night she works as a freelance writer, ghost writing for clients and contributing to publications such as Huffington Post and Social Media Today.

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