UK vs USA: Which is a better destination to study abroad ?

The debate between which is the best destination for higher studies for Indian students has raged on since the first of our people left our nation and travelled to western shores for a better quality of life and greater pay package.


The seat of the British Empire, England, and more precisely, London, has traditionally been the most sought after destination for Indian students. Whether it was due to the colonial hangover or other reasons is a discussion for another time. [ Image Source]

But in the past two and a half decades, America has emerged as an equally strong contender for higher education with its world class facilities, open markets and rising capitalism. The American dream called all who were willing and daring to travel to the world’s newest – and some would say greatest – superpower.

Of course, with Britain banning its post study work visa in 2012, coupled with the rise of the conservative party there, the situation has changed and the scales have tilted in favour of the States for those seeking greater return on investment on their education.

Here we compare these two nations to help those confused folk planning to study abroad, after all, it is an expensive decision and not one to be made lightly.

Quality of Education

The most important thing to know when deciding on a course and the country for the same is the quality of education. Check out the QS World Rankings, Times University rankings, as well as Top University rankings to get an idea of where the college stands among the best in the world. These websites publish a list of the best universities – by field and even overall – annually. Do your research and go for the best college, since they will have good ties with the industry leading to quality internships which can then be converted to job offers.

Remember, there is no substitute for quality, and if it is within your budget, go for the best possible college. Currently the US universities rank higher compared to those from the UK difficult.

Cost of Education

Beyond quality, you must also keep in mind the fees, since an international education will cost many times more than doing the same course in India. Check the fees and see the return on investment that you’ll be getting. You should chose the college which is highly ranked but also within your budget, and doesn’t leave rob you dry.

Recuperating your fees within two years of graduating should be the rule of thumb when going for an international education. For now, the fees in the UK universities are lesser than in their American counterparts, but the changing visa rules in UK have made getting a swift return on investment extremely difficult.

Post Study Work Options

This is probably the most important aspect of studying overseas. After investing huge amounts in education, getting a well paying job of international standards is a must. Go to countries which offer post study work visas, since spending in dollars and returning to work in India and recuperating your investment is not a good idea at all.

UK has shut its post study work visa for Indians since 2012, so unless you manage to get employed and have a work visa sponsored by the employer, the smarter option is to check other countries. USA gives a 17 month extension to work for students doing courses in STEM fields, and even for non STEM fields, you can work in the States for 12 months in your OPT (optional training) period. After that, your name is put in the H1B1 lottery, wherein you either get selected and can work with ease, or you don’t get selected and then it’s upon your employer – whether to send you to work in the same company on some other location, or to release you, in which case you need to look at other options swiftly.

Always remember to have a backup if you need to return to your country of origin for work on graduation. As the old adage goes, hope for the best but prepare for the worst.

Going overseas is a gamble, but if you do your research and minimize your risk while maximizing your advantage, it is a gamble which is surely worthwhile.


  1. Better destination to study is not determined by the kind of the reviews you are given by your nears and dears! It is something that suits you the best. It is decided on the rankings and the infrastructure offered by the universities of any country and not just the UK and USA. Do take a word from the experts and if possible, take a tour offline or must online if not otherwise.


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