Going to study overseas can be both a life changing experience and add dynamics to your curriculum vitae. Employers can be impressed with a student who has studied overseas, as they view them as adaptable and willing to take on a challenge. It is a great way to experience different cultures without making a permanent move overseas. This Prudent Minds guide aims to give you help in understanding what your options are, and what funding is available.
Studying abroad as part of your UK based degree
Most universities in the UK will have schemes which allow students to do one year of their degree by studying abroad, and that isn't just for language students. This is normally done as part of an exchange agreement, where the overseas university "swaps" a student of theirs for you, but some overseas universities have places open for any student to apply to.
Grants to study abroad as part of your UK degree
There are 30 countries across Europe who take part in the European Union Lifelong Learning programme - also known as the ERASMUS scheme. This scheme has grants available for students who stay for at least 24 weeks in their overseas study, and as a bonus, no UK tuition fees will be payable for that year. There should be an ERASMUS co-ordinator at your university with more information, or you can visit the ERASMUS website.
Another scheme, which operates for engineering, applied arts and science students is the IAESTE grant. These placements are for 8 to 12 weeks, normally in the summer months, and you should speak with your university about accessing this grant. There will normally be an international office or a Study Abroad office within your university complex.
There are some UK educational trusts and charities who may give you a small grant, but these really are quite small.
Studying a degree at an overseas university
If you are interested in studying for a whole degree in an overseas university, you will need to plan very carefully. Start at least 18 months in advance and look at possible countries and courses available. You will probably have to apply directly to the University you choose, as most countries do not have a central system like we do in the UK (UCAS). It is REALLY important to make sure that any qualification you are studying for, will be recognised in this country on your return, and that it is approved by any relevant regulatory bodies; for example, in order to practice Psychology in the UK your degree must meet the standards set by the British Psychological Society.
You will need to research the visa requirements of the country you intend to study within, as well as how you will fund the course.
Funding to study abroad full-time
As part of your research into courses, you will also need to consider whether you can fund your study abroad. Whilst some other countries may not have tuition fees, or have a lower cost of living, you may not be allowed to work in order to fund your stay. You may be able to apply for a countries student grants, but you cannot count on the system being as much as in the UK.
Scholarships are available, but the competition for this source of funding is high, so apply as soon as you can - even a year in advance is acceptable. Most universities will expect you to fund your own study, many will expect you to show how you intend to fund your studying overseas.
As with studying part of your degree abroad, you may be able to apply to educational charities for a small grant, but this will not meet your financial needs whilst studying abroad for a whole degree course.
There may also be a small number of grants available from research councils or regulatory bodies, but you will need to do some real digging to find these, remembering that competition for the funds will be high.
Visa requirements for studying abroad
If you are an EU citizen, then you have the right to live, work and study in any other EU country, with the same rights as the people from that country i.e. same minimum wage, same level of fees etc. Read our working abroad guide for more advice. This means that you do not need a visa or work permit and so makes doing a degree overseas much easier in an EU country.
If you intend to study outside of the EU then you will need to find out what student visas you will need. You may not get permission to work in the country, and you will not necessarily be entitled to the same rites as the students from that country. The embassy or consulate of the country you are interested in travelling to will be able to help with entry requirements and limitations you can expect.