How to choose a country to study?

Do you wish to pursue further studies abroad? Do you consider studying in prominent countries like France or the USA? But before choosing the right country, what do you need to know? You need to pay attention not only to those attractions that it is famous for, but also the pros and cons of the respective country. It is good to know the merits as well as demerits before moving to a country because, if you have complete knowledge about that nation, you will be completely prepared and will feel comfortable there, despite its demerits.

The most important factors that define a country would be its political and economic status. These factors determine the degree of safety and security for the student during his/her stay in that province. This may be a boring task, but don’t be lazy; spend some time evaluating the situation in the country of your choice. You will be living there for a long period of time and will end up spending a large sum of money; therefore, it is best to conduct the detailed analysis so as to make the best choice.

Another question to be noted is whether you plan to stay back in the country for further employment and/or residence after completion of your education. If so, it is advisable to keep check on those sectors of the economy that are actively developing and are supported by the government. You must also research about those skills that will be in demand and those industries that have scope for expansion and creation of new employment opportunities. This gives you an estimate on how quickly you will be able to develop yourself to an expert level, and the opportunities available for career growth.

Let’s move onto an in-depth analysis about various countries (for those who are really serious about the choice of the country and already plans to go abroad). Let's start with the economy, as it is very easy to understand due to daily news updates.

Economic forces

The main economic indicators are GDP, GNP, VAT, economic growth/recession, inflation, demand and supply in the labor market, wages and taxation, unemployment rates, anticipated economic changes, exchange rates and globalization.

GDP, GNP and economic growth/recession rates, indicates progress rates in the country's economy. Negative GDP is a sign of economic problems, which usually result in job cuts, company closures and increased unemployment rates. Pay attention to the fact that countries with unemployment rates above 5% do not have scope for employment opportunities and indicates that it is difficult to get jobs regardless of whether you are a resident or immigrant. The GDP percentage is important as well, but you do not acquire reliable results by comparing the GDP values, as the GDP growth in developed countries usually tend to be lower than in the rapidly developing ones. What you should focus on is how GDP has changed over the past few years and what is the forecasts for upcoming year as this will help you understand whether the economy is growing or not. Inflation affects prices, hence do check inflation rates over the past few years. This helps you calculate the costs for training, as well as staying during the entire period of study in the chosen country, accurately. Demand, labor market and salary are the factors that determine the availability of employment opportunities and career development if you plan to work in that country. The salary should be compared not just by numerical figures, but in relation to the living expenses, taxation policies and net balance. Pay attention to the stability of the country's currency exchange rate, as the tuition fee and daily expenses will be calculated in the local currency.

Politics tends to complicate the situation in any country and hence, you need to have patience in order to understand the true face of the “leaders” of the country of your choice.

Political factors

These factors comprise of issues such as bureaucracy, corruption, press freedom, regulation/deregulation, legislation, political stability/change.

Strikes, rallies and a frequent change in the Government indicate an unstable political status in the country, where the laws may vary depending on the subsequent Government. Instability of the Government system can also affect the country's security, or worse, the armed force of another country. Nolan explained how traditional political trends can be viewed in relation to the degree of economic and personal (political and cultural) freedom. Nolan's survey is available on

Here is a summary of the political systems:

  • Conservatives - these are supporters of pragmatism, hierarchy, organization and economic freedom with no interest with regards to personal freedom of citizens (eg. Japan, Korea)
  • Liberals - these are supporters of individualism, equality and tolerance with the least importance for economic freedom
  • Libertarians - these are supporters of minimal state interference in the life of society with regards to economic and legal aspects (eg. USA)
  • Totalitarianists - these includes etatists, communists, populists, etc. (supporters of strict control of the state for the life of society in both legal and economic aspects (eg. China)
  • Centrism - this covers an area in the middle, equidistant from all poles (on later versions)

Social sphere

Another area that affects/changes your lifestyle in the duration of your studies or maybe forever, is the country's social status. It is important to understand what customs, norms and traditions make up the cultural environment of the country you are travelling to. You should acquire knowledge about the country's official language, the language that your classes will be conducted in, and the rules, customs and cultural values of the locals. Cultural and religious beliefs may hold a certain degree of importance in your country; however, the new country may have a different approach towards beliefs in the society and it is better to familiarise yourself with them in advance so that you won't face problems upon/after arrival. Racism is a big problem in the society and unfortunately it still exists in many countries. You must pay attention to the degree of racism and acceptance of strangers. Hofstede developed a theory for the cultural analysis of a country. We  have briefly stated the basic features and given examples of countries so that you can understand better.

Categories and what they mean:

  • Great distancing is characterized by a devotion to the authorities (Arab countries, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Russia)
  • Small distances focus on building relationships based on equality and respect for the individual (Austria, Denmark, USA, Germany)
  • Avoidance or rejection of uncertainty indicates the degree of perception and response to unfamiliar situations. Typically this is expressed in the case of vague and unclear situations, like, the desire to establish clear rules of behaviour, complications related to trust in traditions and beliefs, a tendency to group consensus, intolerance towards people with a different lifestyle and way of thinking, etc.
  • Tolerance to uncertainty is emphasised by the manifestation of personal initiative, the acceptability of risk, the calm acceptance of disagreements and other points of view.
  • Isolation or individualism, developed in countries such as the United States, is expressed in the attraction to personal goals, the realisation of one's self, the protection of private interests, and interpersonal relations not burdened by obligations.
  • Cohesion or collectivism supports a culture with group goals, emphasises respect for the collective, and focuses on maintaining relations and norms (Latin America, Japan).
  • Musculinity is the will to achieve results at any cost and is characterised by rivalry, self-confidence, and commitment to material values (Japan, Italy, Austria, Mexico, Philippines).
  • Countries such as Denmark, Norway, Sweden are of “feminine” nature, and they are characterised by veneration of relationships, cultural values, and empathy for the quality of life.
  • The resolving of strategic, long-term goals, and the desire to look into the future is typical for cultures with large values of this parameter (Southeast Asia) and shows the prudence, perseverance and endurance in achieving goals.
  • For cultures with low significance (Europe) there is focus on commitment to traditions, and fulfilment of social obligations.

Technological factors

Transportation, innovation and technological advancements are main factors that reflect the quality of communication with the "world" and the country's infrastructure. Mobile technologies, accessibility to the high-speed Internet and wi-fi facilitates communication with friends and family across borders. Countries that are not so technologically advanced are constantly faced with problems in infrastructure and transportation. Developed countries usually possess the best infrastructure, but even then, you may find small, isolated towns here and there. You must check accessibility to the city's infrastructure and communication with the society as well as research about the location of your University and the nearest shops, hospitals, cities, etc. 


Ecology and climate are often overlooked and not regarded to as an important factor, but in fact it is also a significant factor. Questions like, what if the country you chose is susceptible to a certain disease(for example, skin cancer)? It is better to test the climate for yourself through a short test tour, before you move in for a longer period of time. Although some may believe that if one can survive in his/her country, he/she will survive everywhere, but that is not always the case. You are advised to check the statistics of mortality and the most common diseases (and the causes of its occurrence) in this region, as well as the availability of medical facilities in the country. Periodic weather conditions can also affect the country's transportation and accessibility. This issue is especially relevant in developing countries or remote areas and must be looked into thoroughly.

The quality of education

The last but most important criterion is the quality of education and the extent to which it is recognised by other countries. This is especially important for those who do not plan to remain in the chosen country after graduation.