What’re the Benefits of doing a PhD Abroad?
by Dr. Sriyash Mangal
Benefits of PhD Abroad: While there are many different ways to gain a “global perspective”, doing your PhD studies abroad will bring you a research and cultural experience which goes beyond that of a short field trip. Besides, there are so many other benefits of PhD abroad, from both a career and a personal development standpoint, that make it worth considering. It opens up doors to countless opportunities at prestigious institutions which have excellent infrastructure, access to latest technologies and sufficient funding to cover tuition fees and living cost.
More research opoortunities
The universities in foreign countries like USA, UK, Germany, Canada and Australia carry out substantially more research than Indian universities. These universities have a very high research budget which cannot be matched by Indian universities ever. More research means more opportunities for prospective PhD students. It also means that you are very likely to find a professor whose research interest matches to that of yours.
Access to latest technology and state of the art infrastructure
The universities in Europe, USA, UK, Canada, Australia and other western countries rapidly upgrade their infrastructure. Not only they adopt the latest technologies as soon as they become available, they allow PhD students to use them for their projects. While working at universities abroad, your research will never be restricted by unavailability of resources or technology. The only limiting factor will be your own creativity and ideas.
Get a chance to work with brilliant minds
People doing PhD/ Postdoc abroad are extremely motivated and self-driven. They spend a lot of time to update themselves about the latest developments and meticulously develop their own research ideas. These people usually have excellent grip on their research methods and are always willing to teach and spread their knowledge to others in the laboratory/ department. Therefore, you learn a lot from such brilliant colleagues.
Better Funding Opportunities
It may be significantly cheaper to do your PhD abroad than what you think. Tuition fees vary widely across the world for doctoral degrees. For example, PhD students in Germany and Sweden are not required to pay tuition fees. In fact, many European countries (including France, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Norway) consider PhD students as employees and pay them a monthly stipend. Similarly, in the US or UK, tuition fee waivers and stipends are also available. In addition, you can apply for certain scholarships from your home country or in your destination country and teaching/ research assistantship at the university. In comparison, PhD students in India either do not get any stipend or when a stipend is given the mount is quite less. Overall, it is quite possible to find a fully-funded PhD position abroad and even save significant sums of money by the time you complete your PhD.
Make international network of contacts
When you conduct your doctoral research abroad, you get a chance to work with other international PhD students, post-doctoral fellows, support staff of technicians, graduate students and professors. In addition, you get a chance to present your work at international conferences which brings you in touch with people working in your field in academic and industry. As a result, you build a strong rapport with these highly resourceful people of different nationalities. This helps you to get a job or post-doctoral fellowship quickly in any nation soon after you complete your PhD.
Soft skills training
While doing a PhD abroad you achieve advanced level in certain soft skills such as academic writing, communication skills, analytical ability & logical reasoning, troubleshooting/ problem-solving, workflow optimizations, etc. Doing a PhD abroad is evidence of your passion, flexibility, and willingness to adapt to new systems and people – key skills that universities and employers seek out.
Shorter Time to Degree
Unlike India, where there is no fixed timeline to complete a PhD and it is common that students take 5-7 years to complete a PhD, foreign countries are quite particular about finishing your doctoral research in a defined timeframe. For example, in UK it is compulsory to submit your PhD thesis within 3-4 years. Although, other European countries do not impose hard deadlines, they expect students to complete the doctoral research in 4-5 years. In North America, especially the USA, average time to complete a PhD is approximately 5 years. Universities in these countries have proper mechanisms to ensure timely completion of doctoral research. So, if you will do a PhD from abroad, it is highly likely that you will graduate on time.
Build good publication record
At foreign universities, there is special emphasis on publishing review articles and primary research papers in international journals of high impact factor. Most PhD students have at least one publication in a reputed journal at their time of graduation. This is crucial for getting jobs or post-doctoral position in prestigious companies and research labs respectively. Although, many PhD students in India publish papers before they graduate, in most cases the journals are not of international repute. Therefore, if you want to build an impressive publication record, then you should seriously consider doing a PhD abroad.
Experience a New Culture
Studying internationally will allow you to gain a global perspective. You’ll be exposed to new ideas, teaching styles and academic cultures. While living there, you will have an opportunity to visit new cities, and witness the authentic social culture and food. For example, the thrill and excitement of watching a football game in Europe is something you can never experience in India. You will find this unique experience very satisfying and educational.
Dr. Sriyash Mangal
Ph.D. Cell biology from LMU Munich, Germany
MSc Biomedical Sciences, University College London, UK
Dr. Sriyash Mangal has been mentoring Ph.D. aspirants to secure fully-funded Ph.D. positions abroad for more than 5 years. He has lived in the UK and Europe for over 7 years and completed his higher studies with 100% scholarship. He is an expert in applying to highly competitive Ph.D. programs and scholarships/ fellowships.
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