Every year, many candidates appear for Merchant Navy Competency Exams conducted by Mercantile Marine Departments in Indian exam systems found at various ports across the country and governed by the central government via Directorate General of Shipping. These examinations adhere to the Standards For Training Certification and Watchkeeping 2010 (STCW). Still, many Indian seafarers prefer merchant navy competency examination abroad.
Many Indian seafarers opt for preparatory courses and merchant navy competency exams from abroad like UK, Singapore, and Australia. Though the Indian exams are highly regarded and have been one of the major factors behind the success of Indian seafarers across the world, there are many factors that make merchant navy exams from abroad a better proposition career-wise.
Why Do Indian Seafarers Prefer Going Abroad For Giving Competency Exams?
Many Indian seafarers prefer going to countries like Singapore, UK, Australia, and New Zealand. They do so because of the following reasons:
1) In other developed countries, the filling of application and completion of other such procedures are speedier and the overall process is more convenient due to the adaptation of the latest technology.
2) Having family connections abroad too is a reason for seafarers to appear for examinations.
3) As the preparation of courses and exams involves a stay of a few months or more, seafarers will be able to get a good glimpse of the tourist spots they want to visit while their stay is on.
4) Many countries allow work permits. These work permits allow the students to prepare to take exams to work and earn a living. Quite often, these seafarers manage are able to not only cover their expenses but also save money.
Also read: Merchant Navy Recruitment Process Guide
The shipping industry attracts all sorts of candidates from different countries who are willing to appear for examinations. The seafarers are most captivated by the environment of the United Kingdom. Barring the beautiful aura it possesses, the location of two prime institutes lie here i.e. Maritime and Coastguard Agency (responsible for conduction of examinations and certification on behalf of the administration.) and Merchant Navy Training Board (MNTB is responsible for providing proficient maritime training to the aspirants), making it more of an imperative place for seafarers to reach out to.
The website of MCA provides details for criteria to be fulfilled regarding eligibility, courses, certifications, and exemptions.
One of them includes pursuing Merchant Navy Training Board’s training programs along with gaining an attendance certificate as it is required if you want to obtain a Certificate of Competency by Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
Examination in compliance with these rules shall be held for certificates of competency for the following grades given below:
(a) (i) Master of a Foreign-going ship;
(ii) First Mate of a Foreign-going ship,
(iii) Second Mate of a Foreign-going ship.
(iv) Extra Master
(b) (i) Master of a Home Trade Ship
(ii) Mate of a Home Trade Ship
(c) Navigational Watch-keeping Officer.
Also read: How To Join Merchant Navy: Things To Know
What Are The Pros And Cons For Seafarers Appearing For Competency Exams Abroad?
▪︎ In case you successfully complete the foundation degree from any of the Maritime Navy Training Board approved institute or MCA, you qualify for various exemptions from written examinations that are conducted by the Scottish Qualification Authority.
The Scottish Qualification Authority (SQA) Examination is given recognition as a higher national diploma. After achieving a Chief Mate’s certificate and possessing further sea service requirements, a candidate can now appear for the Master’s Oral Examination conducted by Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
▪︎ The work system in countries like the United Kingdom, Singapore, Australia, and others enable seafarers to make extra earnings by utilizing their leisure time. This also helps them to manage their daily expenses along with the preparation of examination.
▪︎ You can choose from various preparatory courses conducted by the top and famous universities of the UK for e.g. University of Plymouth, Glasgow College.
▪︎ According to the latest regulations made for examinations and study visas, the maximum period of stay has been reduced down to 1 year, sticking to which there would be no further extensions. The candidates will have no other choice but to return back to his country and then again apply for a visa. Thus the new visa regulations have been less beneficial for candidates who unfortunately fail to accomplish their training and exams within the given period.
▪︎ One major drawback is the management of expenses. If you plan to stay abroad, you must have enough resources to keep with the daily expenses. Even if you have to look for part-time jobs opportunities and simultaneously manage your training accordingly, go for it.
▪︎ There have been stringent measures taken like limiting the second period for a visa to six months. The mode of the examination is written as well as oral.
▪︎ If you are someone who can’t bear the cold weather, then going to the UK to pursue further studies is going to difficult.
There are certain age limits that are taken into consideration, take for example every candidate must not be less than 21 years of age if he wants to appear for Competency certificate as Mate of a home trade ship. So age is an imperative factor when it comes to appearing for such examinations.
Though the level of competition is at its zenith, you not give up easily work your fingers to the bone. Any competitive exam demands a high level of focus and determination to surpass the pressure and hurdles.
Prepare for 8-10 hours a day if you can. Try adjusting your schedule aptly. At first, it will be troublesome for you to adjust to a new country especially if you have no support by your side. You will be all by yourself. It’s going to be hard looking for a part-time job to sustain your livelihood, but what’s going to be harder is managing your training/preparation along with performing your part-time job smoothly.
There will be days when you will no longer have the power to push yourself as you will feel exhausted, and all you would think of would be going on a nice vacation. But remember, after you get your certificate of competency, you will be on cloud nine.
There’s no stopping or turning back then. You can enjoy after you prepare and perform well in exams, you will a lot of time to do so without any pressure then. So be careful, enjoy hard, but study harder. Prioritize what’s more important, your career, or fulfilling temporary cravings of having fun.
All the best for your preparation, I hope you found this article helpful.