As technology makes the world smaller, more of us are keen to experience life in other parts of the world. One way of getting such an experience, particularly if you are interested in learning other languages, is to study abroad at university. But is an overdraft with your student account enough to meet the cost of studying abroad?
Just as many foreign students come to the UK to study for a degree, many UK students choose to study abroad to get theirs. The popular places to study tend to be the USA, which boasts some of the best universities in the world, and European neighbours including France, Germany and Italy.
All have their unique attractions. However, one question is likely to be uppermost in your mind if you’re considering a move overseas: what will it cost to study abroad? At the time of writing, a UK student studying at home may be charged up to a maximum of £9,000 per year in tuition fees.
How does this cost compare to universities abroad?
Tuition fees in the USA
If you wish to study at Harvard, for instance, it is going to cost you more than if you studied at a provincial university in one of the many cities in the United States of America. A top-line university in the USA may cost up to $35,000 per year. As exchange rates stand, that cost equates to over £22,000 – more than twice the cost of even the best universities in the UK. If you’re blessed enough to have the option, it is much cheaper to go to Oxford than it is to study in the Ivy League universities in the USA.
All is not lost, however. Some top institutions in the USA operate ‘need-blind’ admissions, meaning that they don’t take the student’s financial circumstances into consideration during the application process. This means that any shortfall between what the student’s family can afford and the cost of education is met by the university. Competition for these places is fierce, but it’s worth researching.
Tuition fees in Europe
Thanks to EU legislation, attending a university in Europe can be very good value for money. All UK citizens have the right to pay the same course fees as the nationals of the country in which they are studying. Tuition fees in some countries are capped at much less than the UK’s £9,000, meaning that you could save money. However, maintenance loans and grants aren’t guaranteed. Many countries have opted to extend their finance arrangements to foreign students, but not all.
A cost-effective way of studying abroad is to take part in an academic exchange programme while attending a university in the UK. Because they involve a like-for-like exchange between a home and a foreign student, costs rarely exceed what the home student would pay for their course.
The Erasmus exchange scheme, an initiative of the European Commission that is administered by the British Council, is one of the best ways of getting into overseas study. The British Council last year reported record numbers of UK students studying abroad this way. Those taking an Erasmus placement do not pay tuition fees to their host university abroad.
Erasmus grants are non-repayable, not means-tested and they are paid through the home university in addition to any standard grants or loans that the student is entitled to.
Scholarships that cover fees and maintenance are rare and attract only the top-class applicants. The UNESCO Fellowship Bank scheme, for example, is a global scholarship scheme designed to offer financial support for people who wish to further their education overseas. Take a look at the criteria for these scholarships – if you feel you meet them then apply and see if you’re accepted. It is a unique opportunity to study abroad without carrying a financial burden.
Word from the Editor
During my own experience of studying abroad in Geneva (2007-2009), I found living costs to be very high but tuition fees very low (c. £500 per year). If you’d like to find out more, please get in touch! You can also find out more about student life in the US through Anna’s story.