Studying abroad is an incredible opportunity offered to third year university students in the UK, where they can spend a year studying abroad at one of thousands of universities around the world.
Here’s 9 of the most frequently asked study abroad questions:
1. Who can study abroad?
University students in their third year at university. Most courses offer this option, but some courses such as Medicine and Dentistry don’t allow students to study abroad.
2. Do you have to speak another language to study abroad?
Nope! You can study abroad in English speaking countries (USA, Canada, New Zealand & Australia), lots of countries often offer classes taught in English. If you’re studying abroad in a non-English speaking country, it’s a good idea (and often mandatory) to take language classes at your host university.
3. How do you finance it?
Studying abroad can be expensive but there are grants and schemes available to make it cheaper:
- Study abroad students get a larger student loan. Students from lower household incomes can get a non-repayable grant from the government to go towards flights and health insurance (if health insurance is needed in host country).
- Studying abroad in Europe is done under the ERASMUS scheme. The ERASMUS scheme awards study abroad students non-repayable grants to help with their year abroad. However, there is some uncertainty regarding how ERASMUS will work after Brexit, read more about it here.
- Studying abroad is actually cheaper than a year’s tuition at a UK university. Current UK tuition is £9000-9250 a year, whereas study abroad tuition is only £1350. The tuition payment is paid the same way your UK tuition is paid, directly to the university from the student finance.
- Lots of universities give scholarships and grants to incoming study abroad students just for studying there. For example, Northern Arizona University award incoming study abroad students with $1000.
- Depending on the host country and visa you may be able to work whilst studying for a set number of hours each week.
- Independent companies often offer scholarships to students studying abroad such as the Fullbright Commission.
4. Is it just a holiday?
Quite often students write off year abroad as just being a holiday, but this isn’t the case. Since you’re studying abroad it’s less like a holiday and more like regular uni. Most year abroad years are pass-fail and don’t count towards your degree classification. However, some universities have much heavier and harder workloads than your UK university, so you may find yourself studying for tests and writing essays a lot more. There are still lots of opportunities for travel during uni holidays, and country-specific holidays such as Thanksgiving in the USA.
5. Can I study abroad for less than a year?
Most universities offer shorter study abroad programmes during university holidays, so you can graduate at the same time. Month-long programmes during the Easter break, and two-month long Summer school programmes are very common. These programmes focus on learning and cultural awareness and do not count towards your final degree classification. Programmes vary from university to university, for example, the University of Leeds offers subsidised programmes in Europe, Latin America, and Asia.
Students can also study abroad independently from their university with organisations such as the Fulbright Commission who provides summer programmes for UK undergraduate students in the USA.
6. How do you choose between a year in industry and a year abroad?
Studying abroad and spending a year work in industry are both beneficial options for students and look great on your CV.
During a year in industry you'll spend a year working full-time at a job related to your course e.g. working in the marketing department at Mars if you do a marketing degree.
Pros of the year in industry:
- Work experience
- Develop hard and soft skills
- Develop professional networks
- It can help you advance in your chosen career
- Often offered a graduate job
Cons of a year in industry:
- No more student life - you have to be a responsible adult!
- Less opportunities for travel and unique experiences
- If you move to a new town for the job homesickness and long-distance friendships/relationships
Pros of a year abroad:
- Make friends from all over the world
- Learn a new language
- Learn about different cultures
- Chance to take new classes not available in the UK like snowboarding
- Develop interpersonal skills and grow as a person
- This is a once in a lifetime opportunity – you have your life to work
Cons of a year abroad:
- It can be expensive
- Homesickness and long-distance friendships/relationships
- Language barriers and culture shock
Alternatively, you could combine both. If studying abroad you could do a summer internship in the UK before you leave and/or an internship in your host country. If doing a year in industry you could apply for jobs around the world or do a short study abroad programme (see question 5).
7. Do employers like students who’ve studied abroad?
Employers LOVE employees who’ve studied abroad! Moving to another country is a big challenge and you develop countless skills that will help you in your personal and professional life. The University of California found that 97% of study abroad alumni found a job within a year of graduating, compared to just 49% of general population of recent graduates.
Here’s just some of the skills you can gain studying abroad that can help you in the workplace:
- Adaptability and flexibility
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Problem solving and crisis management
- Inquisitiveness and use of initiative
- Cultural Awareness and open-mindedness
- Leadership and assertiveness
- Patience and perseverance
8. Where will I live?
Choosing accommodation abroad is difficult as you won’t be able to visit before moving in, you have two options – student accommodation or private accommodation. The majority of universities will have student accommodation that’s available to incoming study abroad students. Sometimes it’s mandatory in countries like the USA and Canada for students to live on campus – sharing a room with a roommate is extremely common there. If you don’t want to live in student accommodation you can always find private accommodation in your university town. Your host university will often help you find accommodation. Quite often students from the same home university will get a house together when they arrive.
9. How do I find a university abroad?
- Research the universities that your home university has a partnership with and draw up a shortlist of universities you’re interested in.
- Consider the university’s location, ranking, classes, accommodation, their political and social environment.
- Choosing a study abroad university is more difficult than choosing your home university as you can’t visit the university before you apply. Make sure you watch lots of YouTube videos and try to reach out to people above you at uni who’re studying abroad to ask them country/university specific questions.
- Most of the time you don’t have to decide if you want to study abroad until your second year at university, but some courses require you to pick the study abroad course option when applying in year 13. Our University Finder tool can filter to find the perfect university course with a study abroad year.
By Clarissa Ducie – study abroad alumna at Northern Arizona University
This article is part of our #StudyAbroadSeries where we speak to students who’ve studied abroad around the world to give you helpful tips and information about studying abroad.
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