Higher education at 18+

Studying Abroad

More and more school leavers from the UK are choosing to study for a degree at a university outside the UK.

In 2015/2016 nearly 30,000 students studied abroad, with the top five destinations being:

  1. USA
  2. France
  3. Ireland
  4. Australia
  5. Canada

Benefits of studying abroad

  • Lower or no tuition fees e.g. there are no fees to pay in the four Scandinavian countries.
  • Many courses are taught in English so there is no need to speak a different language.
  • Places are available on a wide range of degree courses and often you can study arts and sciences together, which is great if you are not sure which area to specialise in.
  • Entry requirements are often lower than those set by UK universities.
  • You get to experience a different country and culture.
  • Employers are increasingly looking for young people who have global experience.

Things to consider

When studying abroad students are not entitled to UK tuition fee loans/student loans, although you may be eligible for funding from the university you study in or other organisations – see below.

Living costs may be higher than the UK.

Accommodation might be more difficult to find as Halls of Residence are not the norm.

Funding overseas study

Student loans are not available for students who plan to study outside the UK. Most EU countries have some type of scheme that provides loans and financial aid. However, these are often only available to students from those countries.

In some countries there is support e.g. in the Netherlands student loans will cover the full cost of tuition and non-repayable grants are available for those in part-time employment.

When looking at courses offered by universities abroad it is important to consider what you will need to pay and how you will do it.

This website offers more information on Funding your Study Abroad

Exchange Programmes

The most affordable way to get a taste of university life abroad is via an exchange programme, where students are enrolled in a British university but take part of their course overseas. Students remain eligible for student loans in the UK and may even be able to access grants to help with their costs. One of the best-known exchange schemes is the Erasmus programme.

Some Erasmus programmes run for a full 12 months, whilst others can be as short as 3 months.

Students on an exchange programme do not have to pay any tuition fees to the international university and at present the fees due to their UK institution are also waived for the period they are away, providing the study period is a full academic year of 24 weeks. So in effect, a year abroad on the Erasmus programme could actually save you a whole year’s tuition. Not all courses are suitable for this programme, however, so check with your institution (or proposed institution) in the first case. ISEP runs an exchange programme that may be more suitable for those looking to study further afield than Europe.


Another option for funding overseas study is scholarships, but competition is fierce, particularly at undergraduate level. These can be awarded on merit or need and vary in the level of assistance provided.

In the US, universities award about 1,000 scholarships to foreign students each year, ranging from partial scholarships to some where all of a student’s tuition fees and expenses are covered. The website Funding for US Study is a useful resource.

Some universities in other countries also offer scholarships to international students and students should consult the individual websites of institutions they are interested in attending to find out what, if any, schemes they may be eligible to apply for. It’s also worth searching the databases at InternationalScholarships.com and ScholarshipPortal.eu.

As well as individual university scholarships, there are also some organisations in the UK that administer scholarships that allow UK students to study abroad.

Other opportunities abroad

If you would like to spend the summer abroad as part of your university experience, but your chosen courses do not appear to give you the opportunity, then consider ones of these possibilities - find out from your prospective universities if any of their partner universities offer short-term summer schools or consider the British Council which has opportunities in China, India, Thailand and the USA, amongst others.

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