University Students' Guide: How To Study Abroad | TOTUM
Holly BarrowJanuary 25th
2022

If you're a UK national preparing to apply for uni, you're likely weighing up your options before deciding where you'd like to study - you may have even considered studying abroad. But a quick Google search might have left you feeling overwhelmed: Is Erasmus still a thing? Do I need to apply for a student visa to study in a foreign country? Am I still entitled to student finance?

These questions are bound to crop up when contemplating international study. However, we've made it as easy for you as possible in this simple Q&A guide, answering some of the most frequently asked questions on all things studying abroad.

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Why study abroad?

Studying abroad can be the perfect way to broaden your horizons as a student who may have only ever lived in their home country (in this case, the UK). If you're sick of the dreary weather or just looking for a new experience in new surroundings, studying elsewhere might be for you.

Here are some of the top reasons to study abroad:

Immerse yourself in a new culture

As an international student, you will inevitably be experiencing a new way of living in a completely different country, even if the differences are only subtle. This can give you more awareness of the wider world and can even make your CV stand out from the crowd once you've graduated.

Study a top-ranking course at a top-ranking institution

While the UK is home to some of the best universities in the world, there are also an abundance of prestigious universities offering top-tier courses elsewhere. Maybe a university outside of the UK ranks the highest for the course you're hoping to enrol on - if so, why not shoot for the stars?

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Studying abroad may work out cheaper than in the UK

Unfortunately, some parts of the UK are pretty notorious for their sky-high tuition fees. In fact, undergraduate university tuition fees in England are the highest in the developed world according to the OECD.

For any Scots amongst us, you might be smugly shaking your heads - it's true, students in Scotland aren't required to pay university tuition fees. However, English and Welsh students aren't so lucky; studying abroad may actually work out cheaper than studying in your native country.

Where should I study abroad?

This one isn't quite so easy to answer. It all comes down to your personal likes and dislikes, whether you're able to speak the language of the country you wish to study in (or are at least prepared to learn), your budget, your graduate career prospects, and what it is you're looking for.

Even deciding on where to study in the UK is tough - do you want a bustling city with vibrant nightlife? Or would you prefer somewhere a little quieter such as a small university town?

These are all important factors to consider before making the leap.

While university and course rankings aren't the be all and end all, they can be helpful for students who are trying to figure out where exactly they want to study. You can view this Top Universities' World University Rankings 2022 guide to give you a bit of an idea.

Finding an institution which is renowned for its expertise in your particular course of choice is always a plus, so it's definitely worth researching which universities are the best for your subject.

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When it comes to speaking the language of your chosen country, this really shouldn't be underestimated. Even if your course will be taught in English, you'll be living in this country full-time meaning you'll definitely want to master at least the basics in order to easily adapt to day-to-day life.

You should also consider things like differences in laws and culture, as this can significantly alter your experience. In the US, for example, the minimum drinking age is 21, so if you're somebody who loves a night out this is something worth noting.

Other questions to ask yourself are:

  • Will I cope with this country's climate?

  • Will I be able to schedule regular visits home? (If you're somebody who gets particularly homesick, this could be a biggie - you can quite easily hop on a flight from Europe to the UK, getting back from Australia is a different story...)

  • What is the cost of living like in this country and can I afford it?

How to study abroad

Okay, let's cut to the chase. There is no one correct way of studying abroad, there are a couple of different routes you can go down; the one you choose depends on which is most suitable for your personal circumstances.

These include:

  • Applying to study on an overseas course full-time

  • Applying to study at a UK university which offers the opportunity for students to study abroad for a specific period of time (a year abroad, for example)

Something crucial to note is that, if you're applying to study at an institution outside of the UK for the entirety of your degree, this typically won't be covered by student finance - meaning you'll have to fund it yourself.

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This can be a bit of a deal-breaker for some as tuition fees don't come cheap, especially in the likes of America. However, if you're able to fund your degree, you are free to apply to any university in the world!

The other option is to study abroad for part of your degree - a route offered by the majority of UK universities. Year abroad options are extremely popular among UK students, as you typically won't be required to pay additional tuition fees (as was the case with the Erasmus scheme - more on that further on). You can still receive a student loan for the year that you are studying abroad.

If you opt for this route, you first need to make sure that the course you wish to study on actually offers the opportunity to go abroad. While you can often apply for an exchange scheme offered by your university once you've started your degree, this doesn't guarantee a place.

Can I still study abroad after Brexit?

When Britain left the European Union, the much-loved Erasmus scheme - which supports students from countries in the EU to study and gain work experience in another EU country - was scrapped in the UK.

Under the Erasmus scheme, UK students did not have to pay tuition fees when studying abroad because the scheme was reciprocal, allowing EU students to come and study in the UK as well. They simply paid 'home fees', unlike other international students who are typically subjected to higher fees.

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The end of the UK's participation in the Erasmus scheme means that UK students are no longer eligible to study in an EU country whilst paying home fees - instead, they are treated as international students.

The scheme has since been replaced with The Turing scheme, which will offer students different amounts based on where they're studying and for how long.

The good news is that, despite Brexit, UK students are still able to study abroad - they're just no longer entitled to the benefits that came with the Erasmus scheme.

It's important to note that the Erasmus scheme only covered those who wished to study in an EU country, so Brexit has had no impact on those wishing to study outside of the EU. The same procedures apply.

We hope this guide has filled any gaps in your knowledge with regards to how to study abroad.

Check out more of TOTUM's student advice and hacks here, including everything from our Top 5 Tips For Surviving Online Classes to answering the question Do Students Pay Council Tax?

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