When Kenyan students are looking to further their education abroad, the UK, US, Canada and Australia are the most common options. Australia in particular has consistently attracted Kenyans who prefer the favorable weather and flexible study/work programs and regulations.
According to the Australian Education Consultants (AEC), over 7,000 Kenyan students have gone through the Australian education system in the last 10 years. AEC, an agency that has been assisting students from East and Central Africa to study in Australia, says Kenyans constitute the highest student community in Australia from Africa.
Every year, nearly 900 Kenyan students fly to Australia to undertake undergraduate and graduate studies. It’s not just Kenyans that find Australia appealing, international students have made Australia the third most popular destination for education in the world.
But why do students choose to travel for 15 hours covering over 10,000 kms to fly down under for studies? Mahul Shah, Director at AEC says word of mouth has been the main impetus for the popularity of Australia as a preferred study destination.
“Most students get information from their friends or relatives who have studied in Australia. The internationally acclaimed education system and the support structure makes Australia an attractive country for most students,” explains Shah.
In addition, foreign students are allowed to work part time for up to 20 hours a week which helps students pay for their upkeep. But for Masters or Doctorate students, their spouses are allowed to work unlimited hours.
“The law allows students to work for two years after studies to gain practical skills in the area of specialization,” adds Athil Smith, International Account Manager at the Edith Cowan University, Western Australia.
“The student Visa application process is flexible and straight forward,” says Shah, who has been helping students through the process. “Its better to start early and do your homework but as long as parents or sponsors show they have cash for the first year of study and have the means to pay for the rest of the course, there aren’t many obstacles in the application process.”
One area that Kenyan students find the need to adjust is time management however Kenyan students do well in social integration as they are friendly and find the Aussie warm nature welcoming.
The education system allows students to finish their undergrad in three years and you can take double majors or two degrees at the same time.
“Scholarships are mainly from the Government and skewed for masters or doctorate students but the support structure in most Universities is flexible and you can defer your classes or consult with the Student Connect office which gives personalized attention to the needs of international students,” explains Smith.