Advising Your Students to Study Abroad

Ever since the rise in tuition fees, studying abroad has become an appealing option for college and sixth form leavers looking to further their education. A rewarding and once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, undertaking a degree in a foreign country will give students the chance to experience another culture and fully immerse themselves in student life. Here we take you through the key things to consider if you’re advising your own students on a study abroad programme…

Is studying abroad suitable for my students?

As a careers advisor, it is your responsibility to guide your students in the right direction and to help them make choices that will show their full potential. Each student is different; some may only be comfortable with living on a campus that’s a bus journey away from home, whilst others will thrive in a new environment in a completely different country. So how will you know a study abroad programme is the right choice for your student?

If a student approaches you interested in studying abroad, before giving them any advice ask them to consider the following questions:

  • Are they comfortable living far away from home?
  • Are they prepared to live in a culture unfamiliar to their own?
  • Are they confident enough to ask for help if they need it?
  • Are they prepared to thoroughly research their chosen university and the country it is in?

Financial aspect of studying abroad

There is very little help for students who apply independently to a foreign university, and the financial implications will have to be taken very seriously.

A student has two options if they wish to study abroad; the first is to undertake a degree at a UK university and take part in an exchange programme. This will enable them to live and study abroad for up to a year and gives the added benefit of the student being eligible for UK student loans.

The second option is to save up the tuition fees and fund the course independently; this option will allow the student to undertake the full three years of their degree in their chosen country. Students who choose the second option and decide to spend the full three years living abroad tend to use a combination of savings, part-time work and sometimes scholarships or bursaries to fund their course.

Where should my students study?

The most important thing they will need to consider is where they want to study and if there are a suitable university and degree course within their chosen country. Here we’ve listed the most popular destinations and included the important facts your globetrotting student will need to know…

Europe

With lower course fees than we have here in the UK, undertaking a degree course in Europe is a popular choice for college and sixth form leavers. Some countries including Austria, Cyprus, Germany and Finland offer free courses with others such as the Netherlands charging as little as £1500 per year.

Students will need to ensure taht they have enough by way of European Health Insurance, too. This is very important especially if students have not been abroad before or have heard of health insurance, before.

The academic year is structured similarly to the UK and students can expect the same length of three to four-year bachelor’s degrees available. Despite these similarities, the degree courses offered in Europe tend to be much more specific than those we offer in the UK and students will need to adjust to their new academic timetable as the educational year starts earlier than it does back at home.

It is much easier to get a place in a university in Europe than it is in the UK, however, students will need to apply directly to their chosen institution instead of going through UCAS.

A good programme to make them aware of is the Erasmus Programme, this will allow students to travel across Europe with a little more ease.

Ireland

As one of the most popular destinations for college and sixth form leavers, Ireland offers students the chance to study a little closer to home whilst still enjoying the social & educational benefits of living in another country. Here are the key things your student will need to know if they choose the Emerald Isle as their new home…

Ireland is home to seven universities in total as well as institutes of technology and a few colleges that offer degree courses. Offering an estimated total of 1500 courses at undergraduate level, students will have less choice of subjects than in the UK but they will benefit from being able to study in what are considered to be two of the best universities in the world: University College Dublin and Trinity College Dublin.

With an academic year structured in the same way as the UK (running from September to June) students will find it easier to settle into university life and will also benefit from the same degree classifications.

Although there are many similarities between studying in the UK and Ireland, students from the UK will be required to independently fund their studies unless they are from Northern Ireland. If your student is worried about the financial implications of moving abroad, explain that some universities offer grants and scholarships to help fund their studies and they should contact their chosen university to find out exactly what they offer.

Students will need to apply through the Central Applications Office from November onwards for a September start the following year. Unlike on UCAS, they needn’t worry about a personal statement as Irish universities make a decision based on grades.

USA & Canada

Home to some of the best universities in the world including Yale, Princeton and Harvard, the USA & Canada is one of the most sought-after destinations for college leavers in the UK.

The academic year runs from August-September to May-June depending on the location. If your student is looking at Canadian universities it will take three years to achieve their Bachelor’s degree; however, universities in America require at least four years of study, ensure they are prepared to put in the work for longer if the USA is their dream destination.

Tuition fees vary between public and private institutions in the USA. Public universities are far cheaper than the private institutions however private universities offer a range of scholarships and funding support to help students. There are fewer options for financial support in Canada however they should contact their chosen university directly to establish what help is available.

Applying to a university in the USA is a lengthy process and includes a thorough application as well as admission tests. Applications to Canadian institutions are shorter, however, the student will need to provide information on their academic progress, a personal statement and letters of reference. Students should also be aware of the finances for American universities, too, otherwise this could be a far more shocking application then they think.

The most important element of applying to a university in the USA & Canada is obtaining a visa, this is an essential element and the student will need to provide evidence of their finances, health and character to support the application.

Australia & New Zealand

Both Australia & New Zealand offer a great student lifestyle and high-quality educational facilities. The perfect place for students looking for a completely different way of life, we’ve put together the key things you need to know if you are advising students on moving to the southern hemisphere…

The academic year in New Zealand and Australia runs from February to November and it will take between three to four years to complete an undergraduate degree in both countries.

Tuition fees are expensive and students will need to consider additional costs such as applying for visas, health insurance and the cost of travelling back home. Scholarships are available but are competitive to get at an undergraduate level, government websites list scholarships available and students should check these first before considering moving to either country.

Applications for universities in New Zealand and Australia are shorter than those for UK institutions. Students will be required to apply directly to each university they are interested in, ensuring it is before the closing date in August for a February start.

Remember, the grading systems in both countries are different than in the UK. Instead of a first or a 2:1, students will be graded between A to D in New Zealand or they will receive a high distinction, distinction, credit or a pass if studying in Australia. Both systems are based on the British model and both qualifications are recognised all over the world as being the direct equivalent of qualifications from British universities.

Whether it’s Australia, Spain, Canada or Ireland, no matter where your student decides to study, moving abroad to gain new experiences will show they are adaptable and resilient. As well as giving them a valuable international perspective, studying abroad will help them to stand out amongst their peers after graduation and will give them the head start they need to lead a successful working life.