Studying abroad, whether it is a full three- or four-year course or for a year as part of a UK-based degree, can be an incredible and potentially life-changing opportunity.
As well as all the traditional benefits of attending university, such as furthering your academic career, meeting new people and generally expanding your horizons, studying abroad also offers the chance to experience a completely different way of learning and an entirely new culture at the same time.
However, while there are many sources of information available (see below) and plenty of people to turn to for help and advice, studying abroad comes with an extra set of considerations, some of which are not immediately obvious.
Studying abroad takes a huge amount of planning and preparation, much of which you must do yourself.
Here are some of the things you need to consider:
- Passports To travel abroad you will need a passport at the very least, even if you plan to study within the European Union.You will also need to make sure your passport is not due to expire while you are abroad, and some countries will insist on a minimum period of time left on your passport (often around six months) for you to travel.
- Visas You may also need extra documentation or accreditation to travel to certain countries, such as a Visa or an online electronic travel authorisation. You should check with the national website of the country to which you plan to travel for the most up-to-date information.
UCAS has some general visa and immigration information here.
Insurance and health
- Insurance No matter how long you plan to travel abroad for, insurance is essential. Luckily there are many different student insurance options available, so make sure to shop around for a good deal. However, this does not mean you should compromise – always pay for the most comprehensive cover you can get, because you can never be sure when you will need it.
- Health Some countries will require you to have vaccinations before you travel, while others will have their own specific medical or healthcare requirements. Again, you should check with the country’s national website for the latest information.
- Tuition fees Student life can be expensive at the best of times but studying abroad can prove particularly costly. If you are studying a full course abroad you will have to consider the cost of tuition fees, which can be very high for international students in certain countries. There are various scholarships and bursaries available that can help reduce the cost depending on the country, the institution and the course of study.
- Cost of living This can vary considerably depending on the country. Some countries will require you to prove you have enough money to meet your living costs as part of your visa application, so diligent financial planning and detailed budgeting is essential.
- Working You might be able to find employment to supplement your income but again this varies depending on the country, with some restricting the number of hours student visa holders can work and others banning it altogether.
More information and resources
Make sure to keep an eye out for our studying abroad blog series for more helpful advice, testimonials and top tips on studying overseas.
You can also find out more about funding for studying abroad and travel grant information on the Student Finance Wales website in addition to advice from UCAS.