Studying Abroad

Study Abroad

Uni Compare  · Nov 29th 2023

Deciding whether to study abroad or to attend university at home can be an incredibly difficult decision.


Studying in another country is very different from the United Kingdom, there are a lot of key points to consider before making this life-changing choice.

Plenty of students look in to study abroad in their final phase of education and it can be a hugely rewarding experience!

A ferris wheel in the middle of a foreign city.

Why study abroad?

One of the most popular reasons students study abroad is because the tuition fees are significantly lower than the United Kingdom, for example, students could save thousands of pounds per annum if they studied in Canada. It also helps your student CV to stand out amongst others. Employers would love to know how attending a university in another country changed you as a person, it shows initiative and a passion for your chosen area of study.

How to study abroad

Well, there are two different ways to study abroad:

  • The first option is to undertake your degree at a university in the United Kingdom and take part in an exchange programme for up to a year. This option means you will still be eligible for UK student loans and you can also request extra help when you are due to move abroad.
  • The other option is to save for the tuition fees and then to apply independently paying your costs upfront. This can be more difficult to do, but if determined it can be achieved.

Remember, like any other degree, completing your A-Levels and getting good grades is the most important factor if you wish to study abroad UK.

The first option is to undertake your degree at a university in the United Kingdom and take part in an exchange programme for up to a year.

Why you should study abroad

You should weigh up the advantages and disadvantages and how dependent you are as an individual. If you feel homesick very easily or haven’t had much responsibility yet as an adult, then this may be a difficult transition for you. Talk your ideas through with your family, friends and advisors at college before applying. A study abroad back up plan is essential, so be sure to do your research!

There are lots of reasons to study abroad; every potential student has his or her own reasons. Here are some of the most popular answers to this important question:

  • To gain priceless experiences
  • An opportunity to learn another language
  • A chance to meet people from different countries
  • To be able to travel around Europe or to another country
  • To learn about other cultural practices
  • To widen your perspectives
  • To make your student CV stand out

What will your qualification(s) be equivalent to?

There are two European qualification frameworks within Europe that show the equivalent of what level you are studying in another country and their equivalencies for any study abroad programs.

The European Qualifications Framework (EQF), and the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area (GQ-EHEA) which is also known as the Bologna Framework. Although, you should always check with your university beforehand to see the equivalencies for the degree you're studying.

If you’re looking to come back and study in the UK, make sure you fill out your study abroad personal statement and say what’s been happening to you while you’ve been abroad.

An aerial view of Barcelona.

What do I do about travel insurance?

One item that has to be ticked off your university checklist is your European health insurance, these cards are free and allow you to seek medical treatment in an emergency situation!

Your EHIC card is essential to your study abroad travel insurance, especially if you're from the UK. You need to keep yourself insured, it won’t cost too much and it won't be difficult to set up either.

How to get scholarship to study abroad?

Study-abroad scholarships are a great source of keeping things cheaper when abroad. As you could probably have guessed, studying abroad can be a bit expensive, so having any study abroad scholarships will be very useful for you.

The best thing for you to do, is to search for some scholarships online, whether that be through the learning institute that you're applying to or that be through finding scholarships online.

Whether you are an EU or an international student, the university or the government of your chosen country may offer extra help. Contact the embassy of the country you’ll be studying in or research online for more information on extra funding.

Whether you're looking to study Dentistry abroad, study Medicine abroad or you're looking for a general study loan for abroad, there will be a programme in place for students, whether that be through the university or through the local or national government.

Study-abroad scholarships are a great source of keeping things cheaper when abroad.

How to get financial aid for study abroad

The best thing to do when looking to study abroad, is to start looking at bursaries, grants and scholarships as early as possible. As we said above, there are a number of incentives open to students that need help with finance when looking to study abroad.

The best thing you can do is speak to your university and see what they have available for foreign students, they will likely have a number of different initiatives available.

If not, some companies offer a number of scholarships for students looking for financial aid. This may mean carrying out work for that company while you're abroad, so it may be worth looking into the visa implications of this beforehand.

A large aerial view of Barcelona.

How to apply to study abroad

When it comes to looking at studying abroad, whether you're looking to study an undergraduate degree abroad or study Masters abroad, you need to approach things in the right way.

You will need to look at what you want to study and where offers those courses, so we recommend looking at that beforehand.

After that, the most common route to studying abroad is:

There are a number of incentives open to students that need help with finance when looking to study abroad.
  • Choose your study programme: Know what you want to study as early as possible and start making your plans for it.
  • Read the entry requirements: Make sure you know what is expected of you before you apply. Whether that be a certain number of qualifications or that be the monetary requirements, make sure you've done your research.
  • Motivation letter: Some schools might not be totally sold on you just yet, especially if you're looking to study in America, where a certain xenophobic, hate-spewing demigod does not want American students to miss out for foreign students. Think of this as a cover letter to sell yourself to the university.
  • Prepare for tests: If you're coming into the UK, you have to study the IELTS Exam if you are a non-native speaker, but UK entrants may be required to study an exam of their own if they are travelling to a foreign country.
  • Translate anything relevant: This could be grade certificates or anything else, just make sure these are authentic and translated correctly, otherwise, you might be stuck!
  • Apply online: Apply via the online application forms. This is a much easier way of getting into the relevant programmes and will likely be faster and won’t cost as much.
  • Prepare for an entrance exam: Not all universities will have an Entrance Exam for their students, but some will and you will need to prepare for them. Medical schools are renowned for them and these will generally be to test your language and mathematical skills.
  • Be ready for the interview: There will likely be an entrant’s interview, not only to determine if you're a good fit for the university, but also to see how you will behave as a student of the university. Maybe start practising your university interview questions beforehand.
  • Sort your visa out: No matter what visa you need, whether it be the J1 Visa, the F1 Visa or the Tier 4 Visa, you need to get this sorted before you start, so sooner would be better!

These are the usual steps you should follow when applying for a university when you’re about to study abroad.

What to pack study abroad

Whenever you study abroad, you're going to need a number of things beforehand. You're going to need all the essentials and you're going to also need some things to keep you company too.

We’ve included a list of things we think you need when studying abroad.

There will likely be an entrant’s interview, to determine if you're a good fit for the university.


  • Shirts
  • Pants
  • Trousers
  • Skirts
  • Socks
  • Hoodies
  • A nice pair of shoes
  • Normal trainers
  • Workout clothes
  • Jacket(s)


  • Phone
  • Charger
  • Laptop
  • Laptop charger
  • Power adapters
  • Country-specific plugs
  • Camera


  • Shampoo
  • Body lotion
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Floss
  • Contraception
  • Any prescribed medication
  • Sunblock
  • Pain killers


  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Student ID
  • Driver’s license
  • Backpack
  • Lock

These may seem like the basics, but they are extremely useful and they will all come in handy, having them all to hand is very useful too, so make sure you stock up before you head out!

Students move their luggage into their new university

Why study abroad in France?

Degree course fees in France are significantly lower than in the UK, and it is one of Europe’s largest countries as well as one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations.

Students who decide to cross the English Channel to study in France reap the benefits of becoming part of one of the most prestigious education systems in the world. With the added bonus of a rich social life thanks to the numerous bars, restaurants, cafes, museums and galleries; French universities are renowned for attracting international students each year.

Why study abroad in Switzerland?

Swiss universities have a very good reputation for academic excellence paired with low tuition fees – not bad for a small country in Western Europe, hence why we see lots of students wanting to study in Switzerland! They even had three universities in The Times Higher Education World University Rankings in 2013-2014. Switzerland is multilingual and depending on where you choose to study you may find yourself picking up phrases in French, German, Italian or Romansh! Each linguistic area is shaped by the cultural and historical influences surrounding it, so it is best to conduct research before you dive straight in. Due to the Bologna process, institutions in Switzerland follow the cycle of a Bachelor’s Degree; then Masters Degrees; and followed by Doctoral (PhD) degrees.

Education in Switzerland is made up of a dual system including the higher education sector and the professional education and training sector (PET). The higher education sector is made up of 10 Cantonal universities (the word canton means the district in French). There are 26 different cantons in Switzerland, and they each have their own courts, laws and governments.

Universities of Applied Sciences offer practical and vocational training in; Business, Engineering, IT, Health and Social Care and much more. Universities of teacher education provide education, and training and research opportunities for future education professionals. Lastly, the Federal Institutes of Technology, of which there are two, are made up of Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH) Zurich and École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).

Education in Switzerland is made up of a dual system including the higher education sector and the professional education and training sector (PET).

Why study abroad in Germany?

The opportunity of studying in Germany will put students at the heart of Europe, and they’ll never be far from what the culturally rich country has to offer them. Germany is the most popular country worldwide for international students to go to, after the USA and the United Kingdom. Germany offers relatively low tuition fees, and with it being the home to one of the ten most popular spoken languages around the globe, students are eager to jump on the plane.

Why study abroad in Spain?

Tuition fees in Spain are among the lowest in Europe, so the possibility of studying in this beautiful country is more plausible than you think. While studying in Spain, you have the opportunity to learn the second most spoken language in the entire world, and as it is the third most popular choice for international students, you can make a host of valuable connections around the globe.

Why study abroad in Iceland?

Iceland offers a brilliant university system, a high quality of life and a stunning landscape. Its relatively low tuition fees make it a popular destination for international students as well as its reasonable cost of living. Students who study in Iceland, the beautiful country have the chance to explore its amazing geography and take part in activities such as ice climbing and bathing in volcanically heated swimming pools!

Studying in Europe

Even though with the reduced course fees and savings of at least £20,000 there are no student loan companies to aid UK students. This means that you would need the funds upfront or to get a normal bank loan which may have more serious financial implications. However, financial worries aside the main reason students choose a European university is for a sense of adventure, excitement and opportunity. The international graduate prospects after your studies will give your career an amazing head start. You can also look into various other schemes and programmes as well, such as the Erasmus Programme.

Studying in New Zealand

New Zealand is made up of 8 institutions that are state-owned as well as hundreds of privately owned universities. The qualifications from these institutions are recognised internationally, giving you peace of mind of your future after university. In the majority of cases, you will have to fill out an application form and send any relevant documents with the application. New Zealand’s first term (or semester) starts in February so you should send off the application in October, ideally before November 1st.

Even though with the reduced course fees and savings of at least £20,000 there are no student loan companies to aid UK students.

Studying in America

Higher education in America can take 4-6 years to complete as there isn’t a specific timescale for students to complete their degree. The American Bachelor degree programme consists of core courses, a major, a minor and electives. The core courses are taken in Mathematics, English, Humanities and Philosophy although not all colleges have them. A major is the main academic area you will study, most students study one major, but some colleges offer a double major with the opportunity to study two or a combined area.

A minor gives students the choice to study something with less concentration than their major and electives are other areas of study that students find interesting. The application process can take an extremely long time as there is not a national body, like UCAS, to apply through, you would have to check each individual university and apply to each one. American finances is a difficult topic and requires research before any applications are made.

Studying in Canada

Canada is known for having one of the world’s best education system, and international students can work in Canada for at least one year after completing their degree. You should apply at least one year before the start of term to allow enough time during the application process, and can contact the university’s Office of Admissions and/or Office of Graduate Admissions to get the relevant forms and information. The majority of Canadian institutions require three A-Level qualifications to get on an undergraduate course. However, do check each university you are interested in attending to guarantee you have what is needed.

Higher education in America can take 4-6 years to complete as there isn’t a specific timescale for students to complete their degree.

What countries are a part of the European Union?

Plenty of students look to study abroad, but Europe is the place where a number of opportunities are open to younger students, especially those who are looking to gain an insight into European cultures.

Despite this, a number of students are still not aware of whereabouts in Europe they are able to study, so we have compiled a list of the countries that are part of the European union, to help you when you're looking to study abroad.

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • UK (Note, as a result of the Brexit Referendum, England is no longer a member of the European Union, other countries may differ depending on other future referendums).

Study abroad exchange programmes

Another option to study abroad is to take part in an exchange programme through your UK university, the Erasmus programme is very popular and has thousands of courses on offer.

The length of time you spend abroad will depend on your degree course and which university you choose to go to in the UK. If you choose to sign up to an exchange programme, your tuition fees will be covered by Student Finance England, and you can apply for grants and extra funding to aid your time abroad.

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