Frequently Asked Questions
The most frequently asked questions by African Study Abroad Students
Study Abroad FAQs
Why Study Abroad?
There are many reasons why study abroad programs are gaining popularity. African students are likely to find the appeal to be a combination of gaining a quality education and increasing their future job prospects. It may even be the case that the field of study which interests you is only available abroad. Experiencing immersion in a new culture – often learning a second language- and developing a global mindset are also key factors.
For others, being a student abroad is a daunting prospect, however it is also an exciting adventure. This experience will improve your career prospects and give you a broader perspective on the world.
The type of experience you have abroad depends greatly on your choice of destination. It is key to pick a study destination based on your own personal objectives as well as the financial budget available to you. There are many courses available at Bachelor and Master’s level, and thousands of universities to choose from. Their cost, required grades for admission and program content vary from institution to institution and what may be right for one student is not necessarily right for another.
Seed Educational Consulting works with you to find the right choice for you. You can read more about reasons to study abroad on our blog
Where should I go to study abroad?
It is not always an easy decision to choose where you would like to study abroad. You have a lot to consider, including tuition and living expenses, job and internship opportunities, field of study to choose, and more besides. You may also be interested in staying in the country you study in to gain some valuable work experience.
How you like to spend your free time is also something to consider. Do you want to live on-campus and mix with students, or experience city life in a foreign country? Do you want easy access to sports facilities or the great outdoors? Would you prefer to live in a dorm or in an apartment?
At Seed, most of our partner institutions teach in English – with English being increasingly the global language of business, we feel that this will open up the most employment opportunities post-graduation. However, if you feel that studying in French or German is a better choice for you, we can also help you. You can find a lot of information on our website to help you answer these questions, and our team is available to give you the information you require.
How do I Study Abroad?
We recommend that you start by researching information online about the countries you are interested in studying in. While we do not expect you to sort through 1000s of university courses, it is important to have an idea of the types of programs available, the costs of study, the list of documents required for application, and so forth. The clearer your thoughts as to what you are looking for, the easier it will be for us to help you.
Financing your education abroad is generally the single most important element of any plan to study abroad. Who is able to sponsor you and how much can they afford to spend on your studies each year? These are essential questions that we will ask you early on in our discussions as finance will play a key role in determining the country of study and even the institution itself.
Once you have fixed a budget and have obtained a letter of admission from a university, you can begin the process of applying for a student visa. You will have to fill out a lot of forms and, depending on the country you are planning to study in, you may also have to attend an interview with a Consular Officer.
We have simplified the steps above – in reality, some students take months to do their research and are still not sure if they have made the right choice or fail to adequately prepare their visa application and so get denied their student visa. Why take that risk? Why not ask for help and assistance from expert counselors from the first step to the last? Seed Educational Consulting has more than 20 years experience helping students to study abroad. We answer many questions on our website and all the others you have when you contact us.
Where will I live during my study abroad program?
It depends a lot on the university and city that you choose for your study abroad course and even your age may have an impact (if you are under 18 years of age, you may find that some universities are unwilling to have you live in a halls of residence on campus as, legally, you are still a minor.
Perhaps your chosen university will have resident halls readily available, so you may be able to find a place in one of them. This may be on campus or a short trip away. Some institutions may also offer homestays (living with a local family): this may either be the only housing option or as an alternative to a student residence. All institutions that Seed has partnered with offer at least one type of housing and may also have a housing service that can help find alternative types of accommodation according to your personal preferences.
Can I work while I study abroad?
Depending on the country you go to, your student visa will have different regulations. There are restrictions in some countries on the amount of work you can do while studying. Typically a maximum of 20 hours of paid work per week is permitted during term time, while full-time work may be permitted during holidays.
You shouldn’t rely on a part-time job to cover living costs while studying and, in general, you must prove that you have sufficient funding in place without the need for a job in order to obtain a visa. As a result, Seed may recommend that you look at cheaper institutions that fit more comfortably within your sponsor’s budget.
Finding a part-job job has many benefits beyond the obvious financial ones – it can be a way to further develop your language skills if you are not a native speaker and it may help you to meet more people and make more friends. However, finding a part-time job is not guaranteed, especially in this difficult period of Covid, so be realistic in your budgeting and then, if you do find a job, it will be a bonus!
There are lots of different ways you can earn money while at university and you can read about some of them on our blog. For people who prefer to study while working, we have a range of online degrees with overseas colleges and universities.
Applications to Study Abroad FAQs
I am in the middle of a bachelor/licence in my home country - can I transfer?
Transferring credits from university studies in your home country to a university abroad is possible, but not at every university. In general, credit transfer is much easier to do if you are looking to switch to a university in the United States or Canada; conversely, it is almost impossible in the United Kingdom. It is important to understand that each university has its own rules regarding credit transfers. Do not expect to transfer 100% of your credits: for example, if you have completed two years of university in your home country, do not expect to transfer directly into the third year of a university abroad (unless the university in your home country has a specific guaranteed transfer agreement in place with a university abroad and you have met all of the transfer conditions).
If you are currently studying a Master’s and thinking of transferring, please note that transfers from one Master’s to another are virtually impossible.
Can I complete my high school studies abroad?
Yes, it is possible and Seed has options for students in the UK (GCSEs and A-levels with our partner Kings Education), Canada (with Columbia College, Vancouver) and in the USA (through High School Programs offered at Shoreline Community College and Fulton Montgomery Community College).
However, are you ready to live abroad, thousands of miles away from your family and friends, at such a young age? Also remember that the more years you spend studying abroad, the higher the overall cost for your sponsor. We are not trying to discourage you – however, we do want you to think carefully through the consequences first.
What documents do I need to submit for my university application?
The exact list of documents will depend on your level of studies, the individual institution and, of course, the country in which the institution you are applying to. However, as a general rule, you will need to present the following:
- Academic transcripts for the last 3 years of study – if you have studied four or more years in university, then be ready to supply transcripts for each year of study at university; and any diplomas obtained during that period.
- Translations of the above if the documents are not in the language taught at the university you are applying too.
- Proof of language proficiency; eg. IELTS/ TOEFL for a program taught in English. Equivalent tests in German are required if you choose to study there.
- Scanned copy of passport photo page
- Proof of funding – e.g. a bank statement from your sponsor(s)
- Letters of recommendation/ academic references – usually only at Master’s level and above
- A personal statement – this tends to be optional at Bachelor degree level but is typically required at Master’s level
- CV/Resume – usually only at Master’s level and above
How long will the university application process take?
Starting your application as early as possible is usually the best way to go. The sooner you get admitted into a university, the sooner you can start preparing for the visa process and ultimately start planning your trip.
Each university has its own application deadline, and countries and states may have a process to follow. Applications for fall semester courses (September/October) typically begin from late January/early February and continue through until June. However, there are exceptions – deadlines for medical programs are often 12 months in advance and also bear in mind that the higher ranked the university to which you are applying, the earlier the application deadline is likely to be. You also have to consider visa applications and document processing times.
In order to avoid disappointment, put all the important application deadlines on your calendar in LARGE LETTERS. Remember as well that you can begin the application process before completing your current studies (for example, if you are looking to study a Bachelor degree abroad, it is absolutely fine to begin applying during your final year of high school and before you have your high school diploma).
Seed Educational Consulting recommends that students and their families begin the planning process as early as possible, especially in order to make sure that the finances are in place to sustain the planned program of study abroad.
If I need to improve my language skills before joining the university of my choice, can Seed help arrange this?
Yes, for many students it will be a requirement to follow a course and then take an examination. For students who need and English examination this will be TOEFL, IELTS, or similar. Students who take courses in Germany will take and official German examination before entering college or university.
Some students will study English or German at a professional language school. Seed Educational Consulting is partnered with a number of English language training organisations, including ILSC (Canada), Kings Education (UK), CES (Ireland and UK) and ILA Turkey (leading into English-taught programs in private universities in Turkey). In the USA we aim, wherever possible, to promote the English language program located on the campus of the institution where you intend to continue your studies. And in Germany we have partnered with Eurasia Institute for German language programmes.
Can Seed help me to find an online course?
Yes, Seed has helped a number of students to find online degree options. In particular, online Master’s and MBAs are a popular option for African students who wish to study while continuing their career. The prestige of a qualification from an overseas university can be very useful when climbing the corporate ladder.
As a result of the Covid pandemic, there are now more opportunities than ever to get a degree from a university abroad. A number of Seed partner institutions do offer online programs in certain fields of study, especially in areas related to Business: Northeastern University has the widest portfolio of online programs among our current partners.
Funding Study Abroad FAQs
Can I get a scholarship to study abroad?
There are literally thousands of study abroad scholarships for African students. These scholarships may be offered by the institution itself, by a government (for example, the Fulbright Scholarships administered by the US Embassy) or corporate partners (such as the Mastercard Foundation). There might also be funding available offered by other outside organizations, including your home country’s Ministry of Education, your place of study, your employer or other organizations that offer funding in your field of study. An engineering firm might provide a scholarship for engineering students, for example.
There is a lot of information online and there is a lot that is not. Depending on your academic record, your university and course of choice, you may have options open to you. However, remember that nearly all scholarships are partial scholarships (in order words, they cover a certain percentage of your tuition fees only) – see the next question for more information on this subject. It is also important to note that a scholarship may not always represent the cheapest option: University A may offer a 50% scholarship on tuition fees of $30,000 but that still represents $5,000 more than University B where tuition is at $10,000 per year.
It is always important to review the conditions of any scholarship and how to apply for one: some universities automatically consider students for any merit scholarships that they offer, so no need to do anything apart from to submit the university application; other universities may require a specific scholarship application form to be submitted.
At Seed Educational Consulting we will certainly give you advice and guidance on the best scholarship options for your Study Abroad journey. However, even more importantly, we commit to finding you the best value education for your budget, whether that includes a scholarship or not.
Can I study abroad for free?
The short answer is probably not, especially at Bachelor degree level. It is not impossible – Ivy League universities do offer a limited number of fully funded scholarships for example. However, these are extremely limited in number and competition is intense. Most universities do not offer fully funded scholarships in any circumstance but, even among those that do, most may offer one single full tuition scholarship (so still housing, food, insurance and personal costs need to be met) – that’s one full-tuition scholarship for thousands (maybe tens of thousands of applicants).
At Master’s level, a free ride is still highly unlikely though many universities do offer a limited number of Graduate Assistantships to highly qualified and motivated students. These typically offer a stipend as well as reduced tuition fees. However, it is important to understand that Graduate Assistantships are generally only awarded after you have arrived at the university.
How much does it cost to study abroad?
You need to consider various factors when calculating the cost of studying abroad. The cost of living and tuition fees are the two most important expenses. These fees vary widely within and between countries.
The average annual tuition at public universities in the US is $26,290, and $35,830 at private universities. Before you begin to panic, remember that these fees do not take into account any scholarships that you might be eligible for and that this is an average – in reality, you may find tuition fees starting from around $8,000 per year at many community colleges. When budgeting, you also need to keep in mind a budget for housing, food, medical insurance, transportation costs, etc. The I-20, the letter of admission issued by each institution for you to begin the student visa process, will estimate annual expenses for you. It is only an estimate but it is a good guide and you will need to provide evidence of sufficient funding to be able to afford one year’s estimated expenses in order to be issued with a student visa. As a guide, we generally say that estimated annual tuition and living costs start from $18,000 could rise to $80,000 at top institutions such as Harvard. At Seed, we will generally recommend US institutions where the estimated annual expenses will not go above $30,000, unless you request otherwise.
In the UK, international student tuition fees vary considerably, starting from around £10,000 ($14,000) and potentially going up to as much as £26,000 ($36,000) per year for a lecture-based undergraduate degrees (Times Higher Education, 2020). Most programmes however tend to have tuition fees between £15,000 ($21,000) and £20,000 ($28000). In addition to your tuition fees, the UK Government has estimated living expenses over a 9-month academic year at £9207 ($13,000) outside London and £12,006 ($16,500) within London. As part of your student visa application you will need to be able to show sufficient funding to meet this anticipated costs for one year of tuition and living expenses.
According to Statistics Canada, the average tuition fee for an international student was CAD $29,714 (US $22,500) per year. In general, expect to pay between CAD$20,000 and CAD$30,000 per year at a 4-year university and between CAD$13,000 and CAD$20,000 per year at a college. However, be aware that there are large differences depending on the province where you plan to study with Ontario, British Columbia and Quebec, the three most populous provinces, typically having higher costs of study and living costs . Living expenses will also vary widely by province but, as a guide, expect to spend between CAD$12,000 (US$9,500) and CAD$16,000 (US$12,500) per year.
With these annual expenses in mind, remember that undergraduate programs in the US and Canada tend to last four years and Master’s programs 2-years. In the UK most students will require a foundation year before joining a Bachelor degree lasting 3-4 years; a UK Master’s will normally take 1-year.
We understand that these costs may seem very high and we stress once again that these are estimates and do not take into account any scholarships for which you may be eligible. That said, we also know that not every African student will be able to study in one of these three countries. This is why we are in the process of adding more affordable countries, such as Germany (where public universities are more or less free and annual expenses for living costs are estimated at 10,600 euros) and Turkey. We will be adding some new articles about studying in these countries in the near future but private universities in Turkey, offering courses in English, have tuition fees starting from around $2,500 (USD) per year.
Can anyone sponsor (pay for) my studies abroad?
If you are relying on your family to cover your study costs then we generally recommend that the link between you and your sponsor is as close as possible: your parents make the ideal sponsor as it is obvious to any Consular Officer at an Embassy why parents will invest in their child’s education. We have seen Uncles, Aunts, Grandparents and Brothers/Sisters successfully sponsor students abroad, though typically you may find that you will be asked more questions about your source of funding in such cases. You may also have more than one sponsor – for example, a parent and an uncle.
Remember that sponsors will need to provide proof of funds (in the form of bank statements and may also be asked to sign Affidavits of Support confirming that they agree to be responsible for the cost of your studies).
Some of you may be eligible for scholarships covered by your home country’s government. In this case, a Financial Letter of Guarantee can be provided by the Ministry sponsoring you, as an alternative to providing a bank statement from a family member.
When do I need to pay for my studies abroad?
This very much varies by country and by institution. When applying to institutions in most countries, you will be asked to pay a (refundable) deposit towards your tuition fees in order to receive the Letter of Admission required to start the visa application process. The deposit may be anything from around $2,000 – $10,000.
The main exception to the above is the USA, where you will need to provide evidence of funding in the form of bank statements but upfront deposits to universities are generally not required (in a few cases, you might be asked to pay deposits of around $200-$300 after receiving the visa in order to be able to reserve campus housing.
Tuition fee payments typically need to be made at the start of each semester for the full semester. Again, there may be some universities, especially in the USA, that offer more relaxed instalment payment schemes that allow you to pay tuition fees across the semester. However, the earlier you pay the current semester’s tuition fee, the earlier you can register for your classes in the next semester (and therefore you are more likely to ensure that you get your first choices).
Visas for Study Abroad FAQs
Do I need to apply for a visa to study abroad?
Visas are a big question for international students wanting to study abroad. African students are likely to need a student visa. Those who also hold an EU passport will not require one if they’re planning to study in an EU country and similarly US passport holders will not require a visa to study in the USA (or Canada).
Short language courses may be eligible for a tourist or visitor visa. However, if you are planning to study a Bachelor or Master’s degree abroad, expect to require a student visa for the country where you plan to study.
Will Seed help me with my student visa application?
Yes, Seed and Seed Representative Offices will help and advise you through the whole process. Our team is experienced with the application process for all the countries that we talk about on our website. We will guide your document preparation and help you fill out the forms.
If your intended country of study requires a face to face interview (currently just the USA), we will also prepare you for this with practice questions and mock interviews.
Does Seed guarantee visa success?
No, we cannot guarantee visas. However, we will carefully evaluate your profile and documents at the start of any study abroad project in order to recommend countries where we are confident that you are eligible for a visa. We understand the documents required and what the Consular Officers are looking for and we will therefore provide you with the best advice we can.
However, we are Educational Consultants and not Immigration Consultants. Depending on your personal circumstances or past history with visa applications, we may recommend that you consult an Immigration Consultant specialising in the country in which you plan to study.
Seed Educational Consulting Study Abroad Services
Will Seed help me with flight tickets?
We are not a licensed travel agency. Once you have your visa, please liaise with us closely so that we can advise you the best window within which you should arrive at your destination and the most convenient airport for you to arrive at – after that, we will leave you to visit your local, friendly travel agent to secure your flights!
Can Seed help me to emigrate abroad?
Seed is not a licenced Immigration Consultant; we specialise in advising you on suitable programs of study and the institutions where you can follow those studies. We can explain the basic rules regarding opportunities that may exist post-graduation to prolong your stay in your chosen country but, if you are planning to live and work there long-term, you are best advised to consult an Immigration Consultant specialising in the country in which you are interested as early in the process as possible.
Can Seed help me to apply to any university?
Within reason, yes. However, we have carefully selected a group of universities and colleges that we trust and believe in and which meet our key criteria for African students (affordability, accessibility, welcoming environment, etc.)
If you do wish to apply to another institution that is not listed on our website and you would like our assistance in the process, we are happy to assist you but we will charge additional service fees in this instance. Please contact us for a list of our fees.
Will Seed keep in touch with me after I have started my studies abroad?
Well, it takes two to tango as they say! Seriously, we love to keep in touch with our students – we want to know how you are getting on, what you like about the university and the city where you are studying and even, dare I say it, any problems that you might be having. We’d even love to know your favourite hangouts so we ourselves know where to go when we are next lucky enough to be visiting! So, yes, we do hope to stay in touch – our directors will reach out to you and we would love to receive your feedback, updates and even photos and videos showing us what you are getting up to (publishable content only, please!).
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