Every year, 10 lakh HSC graduates compete for about 50,000 public university seats. Ever wondered where the remaining end up? Some look into private universities, which are often quite expensive. A Bachelor's degree from a private university in Bangladesh can set you back by BDT 8-15 lakh. Now that's a big sum of money for the average Bangladeshi household. Add to that the fact that many courses of study are unavailable here and students start looking for options overseas.
Bangladesh has grown steadily as an economy, registering seven percent GDP growth year on year. This has had a positive impact on the currency as well. In 2012, when I first went to pursue my Master's degree from a premier Australian university, I paid BDT 90 per Australian dollar. Now, every Australian dollar will fetch you BDT 60. That's a straight 33 percent decrease in costs if one were to pursue a degree in Australia at present. This means that if one were to pursue a degree from a private university in Bangladesh, he/she would be looking to shell out AUD 13,000-25,000. Some consider this to be a hefty bill to study in Bangladesh as the return on investment is very low considering the average graduate salary in Bangladesh is BDT 20,000 per month. If you take out living expenses, you would be left with nothing at the end of the year. Not to mention, the Bangladeshi corporate world is infamous for long work hours, which is worsened by the fact that it takes two-three hours for a person to commute to work and back.
Paying for your degree
Instead of spending four years at a private university in Bangladesh paying AUD 13,000-25,000, students who can afford a private university education can consider joining a mid-tier university in Australia where the annual fees are about AUD 25,000. Since an Australian degree takes three years to complete, tuition fees would total AUD 75,000, while annual living costs would amount to AUD 12,000.
As a student, you are allowed to work 40 hours per fortnight during term time and unlimited hours during summer and winter breaks. The minimum wage is AUD 18 per hour, but for simplicity's sake we will consider it AUD 20 per hour (which is quite common). So, if you were to work approximately 40 hours per fortnight during term time (36 weeks) and say 60 hours per week during break (16 weeks), then your annual income would be AUD 14,400 during term time and AUD 19,200 during break. As such, your total cost would be AUD 111,000 (tuition fees plus living expenses) and your estimated income for three years would be AUD 100,800. Voila! You get an Australian degree for around AUD 10,000 or BDT 6 lakh, and you break even within a little over three years.
This means that studying in Australia is not as expensive as it appears to be. Moreover, why would you not want to attain a degree from one of the 43 world-class Australian universities, of which seven regularly feature in the world's top 100 universities according to Times Higher Education Rankings and QS World Universities Rankings? Add to that a two-year post-study work visa, which you are guaranteed to get after completion of your studies no matter what degree you pursue. During that time you can seek a graduate job wherein the average Australian graduate salary is AUD 50,000 per annum or BDT 30 lakhs.
Working after you graduate
There is also the option of migrating permanently through the skilled worker stream. Students can check whether their subject of choice is listed in the Skilled Occupation List (SOL) of the Australian government. Once you are sure it is, you have to ensure that you can accumulate at least 60 points to be eligible to apply for an invitation to apply for Permanent Residency (PR). Yes, you cannot apply for a PR straightaway. Once you meet the requirements, you have to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI). Based on the cut-offs for the relevant occupation and the application period, you may then be invited to apply for PR. An invitation to apply usually means a guaranteed pathway to PR.
Word of warning: employability is very much determined by the demand for the particular career you train in. So research the job scope of your course of study.
Getting your student visa
In general, there are five main areas where one can gain points, namely education, age, English test scores, duration of course, and location of study. You may seek advice from a reputed education consultant for further details, but you must be wary of dodgy agents. Ask your agent the following questions before signing up:
-Do they have an office in Australia? This is important as they can help you find a place to stay when you arrive in Australia and give you important contacts to look for part time jobs.
-Can they help you write a Statement of Purpose, which is a deciding factor for your visa and scholarship?
-Can they organise the documents that are needed to apply for a student visa?
-Choosing a wrong agent could cost you your student visa for filling wrong or insufficient paperwork. You could also lose out on potential scholarships that could be availed through proper guidance.
So, go and get your degree from a dream education destination. It is one of the most liveable countries in the world with six Australian cities regularly featuring in the top 20 most liveable cities index. Australia also has a higher per capita income compared to its OECD counterparts. It is for good reason that Australia hosts/has hosted world sporting events such as the Australian Open, F1 Racing, Cricket World Cup, and the Olympics. With a work-life balance second to none, a great work culture, a safe living environment, and fantastic locations to explore every weekend, moving to Australia has by far been one of the best decisions of my life.
The writer is CEO of Step Up Consulting, an Australian education consulting firm based out of Sydney, Australia. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.