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Studying Abroad

Tuesday 7th August 2012

Study AbroadWork experience overseas, placements and volunteering opportunities – the options are endless, and all of them offer you the opportunity to immerse yourself to some extent in the culture and the language of the country you’re interested in.

One of the most popular ways of studying abroad is to wait until you get to college or university, and then take part or even your entire degree course abroad.


The European Union has done its best to promote language learning and the exchange of knowledge and education across the continent through many projects, the best known of which is ERASMUS. The ERASMUS education programme is one of the most popular ways for European university students to get a taste of life in other universities and other countries.

The basics of ERASMUS are:

  • You can study any subject you fancy!
  • It’s for people who are at university or in higher education
  • You can do it from 3 to 12 months in higher education institutions across the EU, and in some parts of central and eastern Europe.
  • The teaching is often in English, so you don’t have to be brilliant at languages.

There’s obviously going to be differences between the courses offered here and those you can take abroad – it’s well worth identifying what those differences are and how they might affect your choice, before you get there.

Some things you’ll need to consider are:

How long is the course?

Degree courses in Europe are often longer. A BA in Britain usually takes 3 years – on the continent it can take four, five or even six years depending on the subject. 

How will the course fit in with the course you’re studying in the UK?

And if you‘re doing a whole course abroad, are the qualifications, or credits you’ll gain towards a final qualification recognised by your university or college at home?

Will you need to do an entrance exam, or take a language test before you can enter the university?

International students in universities in Europe, Latin America and Asia are often required to take one or both of these before they’re admitted into a foreign university.

Will the university provide accommodation?

Often in Europe and Latin America first year students are expected to find their own private accommodation themselves. Get flat hunting!

What are the fees you’ll have to pay, if any?

The good news is that university fees are generally lower in the rest of the world than in the UK (surprise surprise), and if you’re studying as part of the ERASMUS scheme, you‘ll not only get a grant, but you also won’t have to pay fees anyway!

What language will the courses be taught in?

The importance of this depends on how serious you are about learning the language of the country you’ll be studying in, and how good you are at that language already – if you think sitting in a lecture trying to understand the language, let alone the subject, is a waste of your time, then maybe it’s best to find a course taught in English.

Other Courses

The choice of part-time and full-time courses around the world is truly monumental, and there’s a course in virtually any subject you could think of, as well as an incredible amount in ones you couldn’t. That’s where the problems begin – there’s almost too much choice – you can only really start tonarrow it down by asking yourself a few straightforward questions:

What do you want to study?

With thousands of subjects offered in schools, colleges and universities worldwide, from Art History in Athens to Coastal Ecology in Zanzibar, it’s make your mind up time...

Where do you want to study?

Unless you’ve got your heart set on a particular destination, and don’t really care what you study, then you should have now had your choice narrowed down for you. Find out who provides the course you’re interested in, and whether you’ll be able to study with them

Who is providing the course?

Make sure the course and qualification is going to be of some use to you when you’ve finished it – there’s no sense in giving loads of money to a bunch of cowboys to get a Mickey Mouse qualification for all your hard work. Look on internet forums and chatrooms to hear from people who’ve been on the course before – word gets around quickly if a school or course provider is dodgy.

How long have you got?

Do you want to do a ‘taster’ course of a few days, an ‘intensive’ course of a few weeks or a longer course of a few months or years? Non-degree courses tend to be a bit shorter, and it all depends on what you’re studying, but don’t forget you also need to think about the last question –

How much can you afford?

Whether the cost is in terms of time spent away from your job or the cost of a course itself, you have to take this in to account. Bear in mind things like the cost of accomodation and the cost of living in the country you’re planning to stay in, and make sure you work out whether you can afford it all.

There’s loads of courses out there in thousands of locations around the world. Your choice is only limited by the subject you want to do, where you want to do it, how much it costs and the language the course is taught in.