Traditional destinations remain at the top despite breakthrough of Asian universitiesOvec
In 2006, 2,426 students left the country to pursue their tertiary education. These statistics are constantly growing, according to the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC) which assessed the number of students going abroad at 2,330 during the previous year. If students have been showing an increasing interest in new destinations ? particularly Asia ? the countries of Western Europe remain the favourite options for school leavers. Despite the growing number of local tertiary education institutions with a wider choice of courses, students prefer to go abroad when they can afford it. ?Mauritius is a small country and people always tend to think that there are greener pastures elsewhere. It is certainly a good move for their future, as it will enable them to open up their horizons by discovering new technologies and ways of thinking. It will also help them realise that Mauritius is not so bad after all,? explains Dorish Chitson, the director of the Overseas Education Centre (OVEC), which is organising an educational fair this weekend (see inset). According to her, one of the main reasons for this increase in the number of admissions to foreign universities is the difficult economic and social situation Mauritius has been facing over the past few years. ?Life is becoming increasingly expensive and people want to go and settle abroad.? With universities offering opportunities where students can work and study and even settle in those countries after their studies, it is not surprising that students are turning towards them. ?Australian universities are coming to Mauritius this weekend to explain how it works there. Students can study for a diploma while working in a company at the same time. This guarantees some pocket money during studies or it can even lead to a full-time job afterwards,” she points out. This is also the case in Canada where the demand for a skilled labour force in specific fields is high. ?There is the system of cooperative education there where students spend one semester at school or university and the other in a company on work placement.? The fact that the government subsidises education for both local citizens and foreign students has encouraged many Mauritians to go and study in Canada. Likewise, since the opening up of Australian frontiers to Mauritians in May last year, two or three days are enough to obtain a visa online to Australia now. This has also made it easier for local students to go there. However, these destinations remain very expensive for many Mauritians and some are now turning to new establishments, particularly in Asia. While the British authorities require a student to show that he/she has approximately Rs 2.5 million to undertake studies there, Asian universities do not make the same demands. Students wishing to study in countries like Malaysia, Singapore and now China only need from Rs 100,000 and 150,000 ? university fees, housing and food included ? a year to live comfortably. Singapore is actually cheaper because it tends to reduce the length of studies so that they are spread over two years instead of three as in most other countries. ?China is one of the new destinations and Mauritians should take advantage of the opportunities offered there since they are opening up their universities to countries that have quite a low purchasing power,? Dorish Chitson comments. New branches in Asian countries Moreover, some western universities have realised that they have become too expensive for small countries. The new trend is the opening of new branches of their universities in countries like Malaysia to enable all students to have the same diploma and the same quality control as in the UK or Australia while paying less. The sole country that has seen its number of students decrease may be Ireland. ?Many students wishing to study in Ireland have been fooled recently and, at OVEC, it is true that we have registered fewer demands for admission recently. Moreover, the fact that entry into the country now requires a visa does not encourage students to go there,? explains the OVEC director.
OVEC educational fair ■ The 2008 edition of the OVEC educational fair will be held this weekend between 10 am and 5 pm at the Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB) Centre in Port-Louis. An international delegation of 20 institutions from 7 countries will be featuring their academic programmes. Their representatives will strive to offer advice and information to prospective students, while providing on the spot admission of local students to these outstanding international institutions. The organisers promise “an extensive range of foundation, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate programmes at affordable prices because OVEC 2008 tries to cater for most students? needs and back grounds”.