Frequently asked questions: studying abroad

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Find out more about where you can go, how much it will cost and what kind of visas you’ll need to study abroad

There’s lots to think about if you’re considering studying abroad. Here are answers to some of our most frequently asked questions.

You can also take a look at these five reasons to study abroad and check out our forums for international study, studying in North America, studying in the Netherlands and studying in Australia.

Where can I study abroad?

You can study abroad pretty much anywhere that has a university or college that you want to go to. Popular destinations for UK students include the USA, Australia, China, Canada and France.

If you want to study abroad for a year as part of your current university course, your choice may be limited depending on your university.

However, if you want to take your entire degree abroad then you have thousands of options to choose from – you can literally apply anywhere you want to.

Has Brexit affected where I can study in the EU?

You can still go wherever you like, but Brexit has changed a few other aspects of studying in the EU – mainly around fees, visas and your right to work alongside your studies.

Before Brexit, students from the UK paid home fees if they went to university in an EU country. Home fees are usually lower than international ones or, in some cases such as Denmark, completely free.

Post Brexit, UK students have to pay international fees at EU universities. To take Denmark as an example again, the fees would now range from about €6,000-€16,000 (£5,100-£13,700) a year.

The visa requirements have also changed – the details of this will depend on the country. Before Brexit, UK residents didn’t need to apply for any kind of visa to study in France, but now they need a long-term student visa.

group of students sitting on floor laughing

How long can I study abroad for?

It’s completely up to you and depends on what type of course you want to study.

If you want to study for an entire undergraduate degree you could be there for around three or four years. Alternatively, you could choose to study abroad for a year as part of your UK degree. You can even go abroad for just a term or as part of a summer school programme.

How much will studying abroad cost me?

The cost of studying abroad is going to differ from country to country but there are some things to be aware of – for example, the fact that China is one of the cheapest countries to live in while the USA has some of the highest tuition fees at around $15,000 - $40,000 (£11,200 - £29,870) per year.

It’s worth looking around to see what best suits your budget, while considering the financial support available to you.

The price is also going to differ depending on how long you study abroad for– you’ll pay different amounts for an entire degree abroad than you would for a summer school programme.

Equally, in some countries such as the USA you’ll often have to pay more for courses like engineering and medicine than you would for humanities or arts subjects.

group of students sitting on a wall with their backs to the camera

If I study abroad full time, can I still get Student Finance and other funding?

If you’re studying your entire degree in another country you are not entitled to receive Student Finance in the UK.

Some countries may offer their own version of funding in the form of loans, grants, scholarships or bursaries to international students. In Australia, for example, the government offers a selection of scholarships including the Destination Australia programme to support home and international students at university in regional Australia.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that this type of funding is easier to access in some countries than others – for example, in Spain only one in seven students receive a grant as there are so few available while other countries such as Australia and the USA have plenty of funding opportunities. 

If I’m just studying abroad for a year, can I still get Student Finance and other funding?

If you’re enrolled in a course in the UK and eligible for Student Finance here but your course involves studying abroad for a year, you are able to receive Student Finance for this year.

As of 2021, the Turing Scheme has replaced Erasmus+ in most of the UK for international placements and exchanges. Universities in Northern Ireland are the exception, where students can choose to use either the Turing Scheme or Erasmus+.

The Turing Scheme provides grants to help students with travel expenses and costs of living. For example, a UK student studying in France for six months would get €390 (£334) per month through the scheme.

female student holding notebook and staring into the sky

Will I need a visa?

Probably yes, but the details will depend on the country. To get a visa, the kind of things you might  need to do include: pay a fee; provide results of a medical exam; take passport photos; show proof that you have enough money to support yourself; and provide details of your enrolment at university in the country.

As a student from the UK some countries won’t require you to get a visa, such as Canada, where you’ll need a Study Permit instead.

You might need to apply for the student visa yourself, such as in Spain or Italy or the university might need to apply on your behalf, such as in the Netherlands.

Do I need to speak another language to be able to study abroad?

Not necessarily – if you only speak English, you could go to an English-speaking country such as Ireland, the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, or you could study in another country where courses are taught in English.

In the Netherlands, most people are fluent in English and over 1,500 courses are taught entirely in the language. Universities in Spain, Denmark and Italy also offer a large selection of courses taught in English.

In some other countries, students will be expected to have some knowledge of their host country’s language.

In France, while you don’t have to be fluent, you will be expected to be competent at understanding and speaking French, especially if you’re taking a course entirely taught in French. Similarly, in China, you need to be able to speak a reasonable level of Chinese/Mandarin to be accepted onto a course. 

students working around a laptop together

Will studying abroad guarantee me a job?

While no degree or type of study can necessarily guarantee you a job after you graduate, studying abroad may give you an extra boost as it teaches you skills that employers are interested in – including linguistic aptitude, cultural awareness, independence, confidence, the ability to get on well with many types of people and increased sensitivity, tolerance and understanding.

Will I be able to work while I study?

It all depends on what country you’re in and the terms of your visa.

For example, in New Zealand, you’re usually allowed to work up to 20 hours per week as long as you meet certain conditions, while in Australia you’re also allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during term time – but in the holidays you’re permitted to work full-time hours.

With permission from their university, international students in China can work up to 12 hours per week during term time and longer during the breaks.

How do I apply to study abroad?

The application process also varies depending on the country.

In some countries, like Denmark and Australia, there is no one central applications system like there is in the UK with Ucas – instead, you need to apply to each university directly.

Where this is the case, the universities they might all have slightly different systems so it’s worth checking out each university’s application process well in advance.

Other countries, such as China and Sweden, do have one central system that you can use to make your application.

student working at laptop

What will my accommodation options be if I study abroad?

In general, you’ll probably be able to choose from one of: on-campus accommodation/dorms; off-campus/private accommodation; homestay/host family.

In countries that offer on-campus accommodation, you might be able to rent a single room to yourself or you could be assigned roommates.

Some countries, such as Denmark, do not offer much in the way of on-campus living, while in other such as Spain, places in halls of residence are in such high demand that you would not be guaranteed a place.

Host families, or homestays, are a popular and cheap alternative option in lots of countries. They’re great for getting quickly integrated into the country’s culture and giving you plenty of opportunity to practice the language.

Private renting or off-campus accommodation is also always an option, whether you opt to live alone or rent with friends. If you decide to do this, make sure you do your research and find out what bills are included in the rent and what the contract does or does not allow you to do.

What do I need to take?

The specifics will depend on the country you are studying in, but the main thing to remember is to pack everything you need – it'll be much more difficult and expensive to just pop home and pick up something you've forgotten.

However, try not to pack too much! You'll need to drag your luggage with you whatever your means of transport, so make sure you can carry what you have and don't go over any baggage allowances if you're flying. 

  • Before you leave make sure you have all your flight tickets and information – both outward and return journeys
  • Passport and possibly a visa
  • Any other forms or documents you need that are specific to the country
  • Multiple photocopies of your passport and other important documents
  • Enrollment forms and university documents
  • Laptop/tablet
  • Plug adapters
  • Suitable clothing – dependent on weather, location and length of stay
  • Cards/cash
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