Why study abroad?
Studying abroad is a global phenomenon. Every year students travel across countries, continents and seas to embark on a life changing educational experience. They will face unique challenges but the benefits are enormous. If you choose to study abroad you will be guaranteed the experience of a different culture, lifestyle and climate. You will make new friends and possibly learn a new language. Overall the international awareness gained from your overseas experience is likely to enhance your long term career prospects.
Consider the financial cost
Do consider how you will fund your studies before applying. If you are a UK student intending to study a full degree overseas you will not be entitled to any loans or grants through the UK system of student financial support. Most students finance their overseas study through a mixture of savings, scholarships and personal loans.
Many countries in Europe now offer courses taught in English where the tuition fees are lower than UK tuition fees. Or you could consider a country where the cost of living is lower than the UK, such as Eastern Europe, South Africa or China. Tuition fees are generally higher in the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand but there are other benefits. In the US, for example, some universities offer generous financial support packages and scholarships; in Canada, Australia and New Zealand there are schemes for graduates to stay in the country to work.
How to find a university abroad
Firstly, consider why you want to study abroad and what you want from your university experience.
- Are you comfortable in any foreign languages?
- What are your longer term career plans and will these be served by studying abroad? For example, if you want to practice a specific profession in your home country will your qualification from overseas be recognised?
- What kind of lifestyle do you want?
- Are there any specific activities or interests you want to pursue alongside your studies?
Once you know what you are aiming for you can set about researching countries, universities and courses in more detail. You can find international and regional rankings at https://www.timeshighereducation.com/world-university-rankings Other useful sources of information about undergraduate and postgraduate courses worldwide are https://studylink.com/ and https://www.topuniversities.com/.
Check if the country or countries you are interested in have national organisations, like UCAS in the UK, which provide information and/or advice to overseas applicants. Try to meet people from an overseas university before you apply to it. The Student World runs virtual events where you can chat online with top international universities and government agencies. The Fulbright Commission runs an annual USA College Day each year in September. Reading alumni blogs is also a great way to find out what it’s like to live and study in another country.
Alternatives to studying a full degree abroad
Instead of studying abroad for the whole of your degree you could consider an exchange or study abroad placement. In December 2020 the UK government announced that the Turing scheme will replace the student exchange scheme Erasmus+. It will provide funding for 35,000 UK students to go on world-wide placements and exchanges, starting in September 2021. Students participating in the Turing scheme will receive a grant to help with the cost of their international experience.
There are also UK degree courses which incorporate a study abroad year. Look for courses on the UCAS website with year abroad in the title then ask for details at university open days or contact the study abroad offices at UK universities for further information.
Good luck with your research!