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Hidden gems: 5 unconventional study abroad destinations for Indian students

Studying abroad is a dream for many students. USA, UK, and Australia are often the first choice among Indian students for higher education. Estimates from the Ministry of External Affairs are a clear indication of this pattern. However, there are numerous other countries offering high-quality education, rich cultural experiences, affordable living costs , and promising post-graduation opportunities. Read on to explore some of these hidden gems, presenting a fresh perspective for those looking to venture off the beaten path.


Estonia is renowned for its IT and digital innovation programmes.
Universities to watch out for: Institutes such as the University of Tartu and Tallinn University of Technology are leading the way in fields such as cybersecurity, robotics, and e-Governance. Many programs are offered in English, making it accessible for international students.
Cost of living: Estonia is relatively affordable compared to Western European countries. The monthly average living cost for students can be around 300-500 euros. Housing costs depend on the location, quality of the accommodation but the prices per month usually range from €150–350 in the dormitories to €350–750 in private flats. Students can enjoy a high quality of life at a lower cost, with average monthly expenses being quite reasonable.
Work options: Estonia also has ample job opportunities in tech and innovation sectors. The country offers pathways for students to stay and work post-graduation, including startup visas and digital nomad visas.


Malaysia is known for its strong engineering, business, and hospitality management programs. Universities to watch out for: Institutions like the University of Malaya and Monash University Malaysia are highly regarded. English is widely spoken and used as a medium of instruction in many universities.
Cost of living: Malaysia is known for its low cost of living. The estimated monthly cost of living in Malaysia for international students is MYR 1,500 or MYR 18,000 annually. Tuition fees and daily expenses are much lower than in the Western countries, making it an attractive destination for budget-conscious students.
Work opportunities: Malaysia’s growing economy offers numerous job opportunities, especially in sectors like finance, manufacturing, and information technology. International graduates can apply for work permits, and there are various incentives for those looking to start businesses.


Portugal is becoming increasingly popular for its quality education in fields such as marine biology, renewable energy, and arts.
Universities to watch out for: The University of Porto and the University of Lisbon are notable institutions that students can aim for. While Portuguese is the primary language, many universities offer programmes in English.
Cost of living: Portugal is one of the more affordable countries in Western Europe.The cost of accommodation (on rent), food and transportation could be managed in the budget of 500 to 800 Euros per month. However, the cost varies in different cities and locations.
Work opportunities: Portugal has a growing tech and start-up ecosystem, particularly in cities like Lisbon and Porto, offering good employment prospects. Graduates can apply for job-seeker visas, and the country has favorable policies for attracting international talent.

South Korea

South Korea is known for its excellence in technology, engineering, and business education. Universities to watch out for: Seoul National University and KAIST are considered to be highly prestigious. Many universities offer programmes in English, especially at the postgraduate level.
Cost of living: While Seoul can be expensive, overall living costs in South Korea are manageable with careful budgeting. South Korea's living costs vary depending on the city and lifestyle. Students can expect to spend around 14,05,611 KRW monthly on food, transportation, and other expenses. This amount can be higher or lower depending on the city, accommodation options, and lifestyle choices.
Work opportunities: South Korea’s booming economy offers numerous job opportunities in tech, engineering, and business sectors. Many universities also offer scholarships to international students. The country provides various visa options for international graduates looking to work and live in South Korea.


Chile is emerging as a leader in fields such as environmental science, geology, astronomy, and business.
Universities to watch out for: Universities like the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile and the University of Chile offer lucrative academic programmes and research opportunities.
Spanish is the primary language of instruction, but many universities are expanding their English-taught courses, especially at the graduate level.
Cost of living:
While Santiago can be pricey overall, Chile offers a lower cost of living compared to many Western countries. Students can expect to pay US $ 700 to US $1,100, inclusive of transport, accommodation and food.
Work opportunities: Chile has a growing economy with opportunities in mining, agriculture, finance, and technology sectors. The country is also a hub for entrepreneurship in Latin America.
Chile provides various pathways for international students to stay and work post-graduation, including work visas and residency options for skilled professionals.