World rolls out red carpet for students bearing green

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If you are not eligible to apply for Skilled Migration to New Zealand or any other country with permanent migration program such as Australia, Canada, UK and the USA–and you do not have an Employer that would let you pursue residency, remember that with lots of green “Students are Welcome.”

Is the shortest distance from one point to another really a straight line?

In the case of student and career pathways, some detours are necessary to get to your destination in the least amount of time, and with less stress on your parents and your wallet.

Pursuing a career at home is pretty much straightforward: you take and complete a course; you graduate – with a bachelor’s degree usually or (after 2016) a K-12 diploma, and then enter the job market to start a career.


You must accept the fact that getting ahead and have an upward trajectory on your career depends mainly on connections: who you know beats what you know anytime.

In short, the playing field is not level. Studying abroad and getting an international qualification enhance your chance winning in competitiveness races– and professional success.

In the same vein, it can be argued that Filipinos with neither political magnets nor economic magnates do find themselves successful overseas because they can climb up the career and economic ladder based on their own merits.

So why go spend for tuition fees internationally, study some more when you may be able to find a job locally?

Because the world rolls out the red carpet for foreign students bearing green.

And most importantly, students are allowed and authorized to work while studying. Their income is way more than what they could earn if they start entry level jobs locally (despite having degrees)—if they can find one.

International students contribute billions of dollars to the country where they are taking up courses. Check out the facts:

• Canada. Edward Fast, the Canadian minister of international trade and for the Pacific Gateway said international students contributed more than 8 billion dollars to Canada’s economy supporting 86,000 jobs.

• United States. International students contribute over $22.7 billion to the U.S. economy, through their expenditures on tuition and living expenses, according to the US Department of Commerce

• New Zealand. Tertiary Education Minister Steven Joyce said international education contributed $2 billion a year to the economy and future development of the sector would help economic growth and provide additional income to tertiary institutions

• Australia. International students brought in $17.2 billion in 2010 according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

• UK. The 400,000 that come to British colleges and universities each year make up the major component of the UK’s £15-billion-a-year education exports, and are also a source of lasting value.

Working students
In the Philippines, full time students rarely work. Parents support their children till they get a degree or diploma because Filipinos still believe that education is a great equalizer. That may be changing a bit as more parents now agree that the K-12 system would allow students to get employed after completing grades 10 to 12, the equivalent of two years in college.

That’s the theory.

Unless the industral, manufacturing, services and agriculture sectors improve, the minimum salary nationwide is less than P450 a day. Students working part time in Canada or New Zealand earns an average of P500 an hour or P2,000 a day for working 4 hours, which roughly translates to P40,000 a month.

Since the academic course takes 8 months, an international student in New Zealand or Canada could earn P320,000 for that period. When school is not in session, the student can work full time or 40 hours for four months. That would mean another P320,000.

A call center agent in the Philippines (one of the highest paid occupations – more than medical doctors starting their practice get) earns an average of P232,488.00 a year. Nurses (may their tribe find jobs) are paid anywhere from P8,000 to P15,000 a month. Most of them, however, have to pay their way as volunteers just to get the work experience to add to their resumes.

Price and prize
Of course, you would have to pay the price to get the prize. Even in the game where the odds of winning may not be that great such as a Grand Lotto, you still need to buy a ticket.

A bachelor’s degree, e.g., in nursing, roughly requires more than P500,000. So a new graduate has a choice: look for a job locally, volunteer to get experience if necessary or pursue further education overseas.

So let us take Anne and Sarah as examples. Both of them are newly graduates of a bachelor’s degree, Anne in IT and Sarah in Nursing.

Sarah—was lucky enough to get an entry level job in a local hospital because her parents knew the administrator and a congressman who recommended Sarah for employment. Sarah’s starting salary is P10,000 a month or P120,000 a year.

Anne’s parents (one of them an Overseas Filipino Worker) enrolled Anne in a New Zealand Educational group and took up software development. The tuition fee is NZ$14,000 or roughly P491,910.00. That is the price of further education.

While studying in New Zealand, Anne earns P320,000 working part time. At the end of her first year, Anne earned P640,000. Sarah earned P120.000.

After a year, Anne got a job offer starting at $30,000 a year or P1.05 million. Because her occupation is on New Zealand’s Long Term Skills Shortage List, Anne is eligible to apply for permanent residency in New Zealand and move up in the salary and career ladder.

Sarah was lucky enough to get an unheard of 50% salary increase after working for a year. She is now earning P180,000 a year. With benefits her total package comes up to P200,000.

Anne took the plunge and pursued further education. She paid the price of tuition and got the grand prize of a better paying job and bonus prize of becoming a permanent resident of New Zealand.

There is another non-monetary price: that of being separated from her non-OFW and OFW parents—the social costs of migration. If Sarah finds fulfillment working in the country that is priceless.

The decision to work or study overseas—or study and work abroad—is not for everyone, nor for the faint of heart and shallow pockets. But for Filipino middle class parents who are caught between the taipans and criminals (including politicians who officially plunder the treasury through pork barrel allocations) getting their children to study abroad is the ultimate equalizer.

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