Is studying overseas right for you?
Leaving home to start university is a big move – going abroad to study is truly life-changing. As well as settling in to university life and starting your studies, there will be cultural differences to acclimatise to...
But is it for you? Our guide can help you decide – don't forget to download our free PDF in full at the bottom.
Should I study abroad?'By studying overseas you will get the chance to gain the qualification you need while experiencing a different culture, style of education and environment,' says Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters.
'It will test your ability to be independent and adapt to new and unusual situations. There's also the opportunity to hone your skills in another language.'
You don't need to have travelled a lot to be suited to studying abroad - but if you haven't, it can be hard to know if you will enjoy living in another country.
If possible, talk to other international students to get their take on it. Ask them what they found difficult and then reflect on how you would cope in similar situations.
Asking yourself the following questions is also a good starting point:
- Am I prepared to do some thorough research beforehand?
- Can I move out of my comfort zone?
- Will I have the confidence to speak up or ask for help if I need it?
- Can I handle a university experience that might be different from that in the UK?
- Can I handle being away from home, friends and family for long periods?
- Can I manage some uncertainty and cultural differences?
Where should I go?Here is an introduction to some of the most popular countries for UK students to study – find more detailed information on each destination in our Complete Guide to Studying Abroad.
But don't limit yourself to these - you could study throughout the world, from China or Qatar to Brazil or South Africa.
EuropeIt's close to home and has over 5,000 courses taught in English across mainland Europe. European countries are becoming increasingly well-represented on international league tables, too.
- How studying in Europe differs to the UK: Courses might have narrower, more specific course titles than the UK. Students often go to university at a later age, and halls of residence aren't as common.
USA and CanadaThe USA boasts many of the best universities in the world and has 4,500 universities to choose from. Canada is a much smaller nation with 100 universities, but it invests a lot into education and offers different benefits, including the possibility of staying on after graduation.
- How studying in the USA and Canada differs: You're likely to be studying for longer - three to four years in Canada; at least four years in the USA.
Australia and New ZealandAustralia boasts around 3,400 full-time bachelor’s degrees and eight universities in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings Top 200. New Zealand has eight universities with around 340 degrees.
- How studying in Australia and New Zealand differs: The academic year runs from February to November. The grading systems are different too - expect to get graded A to D in NZ; or high distinction, distinction, credit or pass in Australia.
IrelandIreland is one of the most popular countries for UK students: it's close, the costs of study are lower - and everyone speaks English! There are seven universities, with around 1,500 courses at undergraduate level.
- How studying in Ireland differs: Student life in Ireland is not too different from the UK. If you're coming from a big UK town or city, you may find Ireland quieter in comparison - the entire population of the Republic of Ireland is just over half that of London.
What will it cost?Costs vary massively between countries and sometimes between institutions – here are the typical annual fees for undergraduate degrees:
- UK - £9,000+
- Netherlands - £1,500
- Ireland - £2,350 (student contribution)
- Denmark - £0
- USA - £15,800
- Canada - £12,000
- Australia - £9,300+
- New Zealand - £9,500+
You can't take a UK student loan with you, but, you may be able to apply to the host country for a student loan in some European countries.
Students typically use a combination of savings, income from part-time work (in countries where you're allowed to work) and sometimes scholarships, bursaries or financial aid to fund their studies abroad.
What about Brexit?The result of the EU referendum means that some changes are anticipated to the arrangements around studying in Europe, including the Republic of Ireland. Existing regulations will remain in place until the UK's status within the EU changes.
We'll be updating this guide as and when any changes are announced.
Will studying abroad make me more employable?'Employers want to hire people who are motivated, passionate about what they do, and have the intellect and skills to get things done.
'Studying abroad can help you to demonstrate that you have all of these in spades, but you must articulate them in a meaningful way,' explains Stephen Isherwood.
He offers the following tips on making the most of your experience:
- Any work, volunteering or work experience you do overseas should be added to your CV.
- Employers will want to see evidence of real skills that you can apply in their business. These may be people skills such as leadership or self-reliance skills such as networking.
- Think about how you’ve overcome problems or difficult situations. Keep a diary to make this easier when you get home.