AI is a game-changer and will play a key role in planning your education abroad in the near future.
By: Gurinder Bhatti,Founder of MakeMeStudyAbroad
According to the ICEF – a market intelligence firm focused on the international education industry – there are roughly 5 mn students currently engaged in studying at the tertiary level outside of their home country. This number has more than doubled since 2000, and has largely been driven by technologies that have helped make the world more globalised. The internet has massively increased the ability of students in a country to explore educational opportunities in foreign climes. Indian students,driven by the exposure and experiences that international education provides, have created a USD 8 bn foreign exchange outflow by venturing to foreign shores for higher education.
This has given rise to consultants helping potential students navigate through the complex process of applying for foreign education. In spite of being invested in trying to make the process more efficient for students, these consultants have largely stuck to the same kind of business model – they provide ‘expert advice’ and assistance, but tend to use antiquated processes. The biggest problem for students looking to apply abroad is usually the combination of its complexity and the paucity of time. These students are usually in their final year of school, and have to make considerable sacrifices of their valuable time at this important juncture to speak to their consultants, plan ahead, research institutions, select a program, and then apply both for admission and the subsequent visa. The next level of evolution for this industry would be to optimize this process – and turning to advanced technology like Artificial Intelligence to make this happen.
How AI can help students looking to study abroad
Institutions across the world have recognized the importance of stellar international students adding to the diversity and academic credentials of their student population, and have increasingly opened their doors to students from countries like China and India. Lost in the vast variety of options and the different variables – institution, course, city, country, duration, opportunity, future career options, etc. –students are ill-equipped to make the right decisions as they often lack relevant information. Speaking to peers, being spoken to by their parents and relatives, students tend to make ‘safe’ decisions – reputable institutions and the same conventional ‘money making’ degrees. They tend to lose out on off-beat options that might be better attuned to their interests. Artificial intelligence can bridge this information symmetry and help students find the right course and institution for their higher studies.
AI-driven algorithms can process massive data sets too large for conventional data processing systems, and can correlate the profile of individual students with information about courses to find the perfect match with incredible accuracy. It can use individual student data to make a comprehensive profile, on the basis of which it can analyze publicly available university data to find the best course for the student’s course. In addition to helping in the process of discovering the right course, such AI-driven systems are much faster and can help save countless hours of effort on the part of students.
Given enough time and supporting data, AI can contribute to the entire process in a variety of different ways. Students can choose a career or designation they want to attain in the future, and use that to select the right degree. The AI can crunch through the data and figure out which course tends to lead to that outcome which matches a student’s profile and provide the answer. Further, it lacks any preconceived biases, and can open students up to possibilities in different countries and universities they may never have considered or even known of. By accounting for what kind of students these universities do accept and what kinds of visa applications tend to be accepted, the AI can also provide a clear route to an education which might have been derailed in the past by rejections from either the college or the embassy. This can save the heartbreak and wastage that applying to those institutions would have caused, lending greater efficiency to the entire process.
AI in this field is a welcome change over the slow and wasteful conventional processes, but there continue to be other frontiers in the international education space that AI could disrupt. In the future, AI could help students plan from further back and set them targets in terms of activities and scores to help prepare them better for the application process for the best universities in the world. The possibilities are endless, and the technology is here to stay. Studying abroad will never be the same again.