Studying overseas: what you need to know

The prospect of studying abroad for your degree might seem daunting, but with almost 4 million students already heading overseas it's clearly something that comes with benefits.

Taking the bold step of continuing your education outside your home country will develop your personality, help you stand out on the job market and might even enable you to walk away with no student debt. 

Still, everyone will have a different experience of studying abroad, so it's important you make sure you’re considering it for the right reasons.

The Student Room spoke to Jemma Davies from The Student World to get an insight into what it's like to study overseas.


Is it harder or easier to get a place at a foreign university?

Every university has different entry requirements, but in the majority of cases they do have more flexible entry requirements for international students. The top-ranked universities will be flooded with applications and therefore will only accept exceptional students.

International universities are aware of the different grading systems in each country they recruit from and therefore you’ll be able to find out what GCSE, A-level or IB grades you need to gain entry.

I can't speak the lingo. Do I have to learn a new language?

Nope! The majority of degrees are taught in English although if you want to challenge yourself you can study in another language if you wish.

You’ll no doubt pick up the language in everyday life by having to communicate with the locals when doing your shopping or when you’re ordering a beer at the pub.


What are the best universities/countries to study in?

Well that completely depends on what you’re after. Each university stands for something different and aims to excel at different things.

You'll have heard about the various university rankings available. These are a great starting point, but it’s a good idea to read up on how the rankings work: their criteria may have nothing to do with what matters to you. Assess what you want out of a university and then get started with your research.

Can I get a student loan?

Most students studying abroad will fund it themselves but you don’t have to be loaded to do it. No student loans are currently available, however you should look out for scholarships - an award of financial aid for a student to further their education that you don’t have to pay back.

Competition for most scholarships is intense, and it’s wise to apply at least 12-18 months in advance of the proposed date of admission to have a chance at getting one.

Will studying abroad improve my employment prospects?

There is research to suggest this is true with up to 90% of grads who studied abroad finding employment within six months of finishing their studies. By studying abroad you attain skills which are really valuable to businesses – you’ll become independent, culturally aware and develop strong communication skills (especially if you are interacting in a country where English isn't the first language).

When it comes to applying for jobs, employers will want to know more about your international studies, if the university and your degree are accredited and potentially how they compare against a degree taken in the UK. Make sure your CV caters to these questions.

Will I be studying abroad for the duration of my course?

More than likely yes and some universities will incorporate a fourth year in which you'll be out in the workplace. This is great for building up employer relationships and discovering where you want your career to progress.

If you study at a UK university check out the international office and find out what international relationships they have in place where you can study abroad for up to a year.

Where can I find more advice on studying abroad?

There are lots of useful resources online such as The Student and obviously the International Study section of The Student Room to name a few. 

Study abroad events that showcase universities from around the world are great to attend as you can quiz the representatives about student life and course content and generally find out answers that you just can’t get from a university website.

The UK’s largest study abroad events are organised by The Student World, which are free to attend and happen every spring and autumn. Register online for your tickets and keep up to date on all things study abroad.