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Higher Education : Where fore art thou?

Higher education in the Gulf, the US or back home - a Seminar in Dubai uncovers the ultimate parental dilemma for the Afro-Asian Gulf Expatriate.
 Madhavi Desai's seminar on Education
 Surfers Respond
  Submit your views!

Mention 'Education' to a Gulf Expatriate and be prepared to get blown away by a tirade on the quality of teaching, ill-equipped schools, shoddy transport and the burden of books and homework. Restricted to issues of the here and now, the Gulf expatriate is only beginning to openly discuss the prospects of higher education. For the Western expatriate, higher education holds no apparent dilemna. The children are packed off home to appropriate boarding schools. For the Afro/Asian expatriate, the transition is not so straightforward. The prospect of sending the child to an overcrowded human educational industry back home, that he or she just left behind, does not appeal. "I want my children to experience a more creative approach to education," reveals one Yuppie Asian mother. Sort out the timing and finance and you could well have your child safely ensconsed in the US of A.

The 'When' Question
Letting a hitherto sheltered 17-year-old into the wild wild west is every conservative Asian's nightmare. Do you send the child after his 'A' Levels or after graduation? Madhavi Desai, a counsellor in the field says, "If you can afford it, send the child after his/her 'A' levels itself. The values have already been imbibed and the student has a better chance of getting adjusted to the new environment."

The 'How Much' Question
20,000 - 30,000 US $ per annum for 4 years is serious depletion from a Gulf expatriate's coffers. Desai says, "The student will get time-saving waivers if he/she is an 'A' level student. Moreover, on-campus jobs and scholarships for sound academics will help reduce the financial burden". A surfer from Chicago does not believe the ride will be so smooth. Submit your views!

Seminar on education abroad - Khaleej Times (17 Feb 2001)
Press report on Madhavi Desai's seminar in Dubai on 16 Feb 2001

She said that most students did not go to reputed academic institutions. "The general awareness is poor and students assume that any institution overseas has to be good and much better than those in your home country.

She stressed the advantages of studying in the US. "An American degree helps open doors. The US has been a popular choice for those seeking a university education abroad due to the job prospects available and the opportunity for the the student to stay on," she said.

Desai said that education in Australia might be 20 per cent cheaper than in the US. However, it was most likely that South Asian passport holders would head back home after earning an Australian university degree.

"Parents should identify the best universities which will be within their budget." Desai added. She pointed out that it was only in the US that scholarships were being offered, unlike in Canada, UK, and Australia.

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Surfers Respond
In most of the schools in the gulf there has been less awareness about different career options and the advantages available in different courses. Though there are medical colleges in the UAE, they aren't efficient enough as compared to the technology and the teaching standards we find in medical colleges in India or abroad. When considering to send your child to the US, parents mainly have to consider the fee i.e. do they enough financial resources? And as far as getting carried away in the 'bad' world is concerned,its not just the US - children can get into bad company even in their home country! I think that no matter where parents send their children for higher studies, the institution should be good and the parents should provide emotional security to their children. And now with e-mail, keeping in touch is no big deal!
Afrah Asma
Education in the USA is advanced, with the added advantage of exposure to latest technological advances - but I believe education in India is equally good. 80% of the top executives in Microsoft are from India. During the Britsh Raj education was geared towards creating clerks - not executives. Whatever the motives, the system of eduction was rigorous and it has helped a lot now. Sans a calculator, very few Westerners can solve math problems that an eight grader from the sub-continent could easily solve manually.
Sabu, Abu Dhabi
I have made up my mind with regard to studying further. I have zeroed in on an institution which offers one year Interior Designing courses in Dubai and have heard from the students of the graduating batch that they have had the time of their life there. Once I complete this program, I will move into a bachelor program in Dubai and later - an MBA in the US or Canada. I have done lots of work in figuring out the right institution, and if any of the fellow surfers requires any input, email me at
Rajiv Verma, Dubai
I do not agree that American education is the best - considering the improved facilities being offered to students in India. Also, basic education till the child reaches an age when he/she is able to make decisions on her/his own and differentiate the good from the bad and not be carried away by the western culture,is best provided in the culture that he/she has been brought up under.
I attended the seminar to find out the prospects of higher education abroad for my daughters. I was convinced that studying in America is a great experience. I missed out on this - and would like my daughters to experience a more wholesome method of education. Universities in India are bookish - and their counterparts in the US contribute to the all-round growth of the child. The only big question for all of us is whether we can afford it.
Sunita, Dubai
I don't think a kid has to be sent to the US at age 16. This country makes you grow up way way too early and you don't have to grow up at such a quick rate. You have all your life to be independent and live an adult's life. Can you believe actually hurrying that up by 4 of your teenage years. I am very glad I did not want to come here at age 16 and that I thoroughly enjoyed my college years in India. When you come at age 21 (like I did) or upto the age of 24, it makes sense. At that time you are in some ways ready to leave home and be on your own.

I know people who have sent their kids at 16 or 17 out here. They have to work off campus trying to pay their rents, even if the parents back home can send moolah, it isn't always enough. Students at 24 also do that, but at that time you are quite ready for life like that and you are mentally prepared. In what way would you consider yourself inferior from someone who has gone through four years of college in this country? The only up side to coming to this country four years ahead of time, is that you get used to the system quicker. But at 21 you are pretty young anyways. It does not take that much time. Its much easier to get used to the US of A than any other.
Vidya, Chicago
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