Studying abroad can be the opportunity of a lifetime, however, in some cases, unexpected things can happen, and it may not go according to plan. From not being accepted onto a course to not being able to save up enough money to support yourself, there are many reasons your plans could change. Here are some backup plans if you find yourself in this situation…
There are more exchange programmes through UK universities than you think, and with the right amount of research, you could find your dreams of studying in another country come true. Exchange programmes differ from institution to institution, so research needs to be done to ensure you choose the right one for you. Some programmes include a few months or a term abroad, while others include a single module to be taken overseas or an entire academic year in another country.
Erasmus+ is a new exchange programme founded by the European Union (EU) that aids students who want to learn abroad while obtaining amazing experiences. The Erasmus programme is running until 2020, and many UK universities are enlisted into the programme. However, that doesn’t mean your course that you chose at a UK university will be a part of the scheme. Before you begin your UCAS application process, you should research what universities are involved and what degree courses are part of the scheme. It’s also best to contact universities beforehand to ensure you know exactly the right information, how you can apply for it, what year you are able to apply and the eligibility criteria.
The Erasmus+ scheme allows students and staff to live and study abroad for up to one academic year at a university of their choice. Students who are part of the scheme also don’t have to pay tuition fees at their EU country as Erasmus+ pays for this. Some students may even save money on their home fees as some universities allow Erasmus+ students free tuition for their time abroad.
Students who are successfully enrolled on the Erasmus+ scheme can apply for financial support and funding during their time abroad; this is usually done in the UK or their home country of study. Financial support can include living and accommodation costs and extra help for their time studying overseas.
Another option is to take a gap year and choose to attend a UK university. UK education is one of the highest in Europe, and there are many universities in the UK that consistently feature in the Top 100 World Rankings list, from Oxbridge to Anglia University. While you are able to defer your place of entry and apply this year to a UK university, you can also choose to wait and apply again the following year, and then take this time to travel across Europe.
Depending on your funds, you might find yourself travelling for a few months to the majority of the year. There are wonderful hostels with good reputations that you can stay during your time travelling. Students wishing to take a gap year should research the countries they are choosing to visit to ensure a safe journey, and contact the embassies of these places for any advice and information on the areas.
If you are choosing to take a gap year and travel, then students should travel with a friend(s) or as part of a group of other UK travellers as travelling alone in countries that you’re not used to can be dangerous. Always prepare for any scenario and contact family members every chance you can to update them on where you are and who you are with.
Some students may decide not to travel but to instead take a year out before they apply for university again. You can apply for your chosen European universities or choose to stay at home. If funding is an issue, you can use this time to work and save up for your studies abroad. Students can also work to gain valuable work experience to aid their application next time round, or even find a company that can provide a scholarship abroad.
Volunteering is another path to receiving valuable work experience. Student internships are a great way to gain the skills needed in your desired career and can help students in their applications and personal statements.
Lastly, if you didn’t get to study abroad, there are still options for you to take at home. The UK, as previously mentioned, has so many amazing universities and colleges with pristine reputations, so you know you’ll receive a first-class education.
If you choose to study in the UK, the Student Loans Company and Student Finance England can help you with tuition fees as well as maintenance loans and grants that help to cover your student accommodation and living costs.
If you still want the sense of adventure that moving abroad brings, you can choose a university that is far away from your hometown. There is still universities in Scotland, Wales and Ireland to consider studying, or even choosing a university on the other side of England! Using our UK university interactive map allows students to search for universities in particular areas that may interest you and to familiarise yourself with areas around the UK, check out the student city guides!
However, students shouldn’t base their entire student life on simply wanting to move far away. There are so many factors that can affect your time as a student, to the course you are studying, the people you are around, the place where you are living and even how you are assessed during your degree (e.g. exams or coursework). All of these will affect your time as a student and should be taken seriously when deciding to study in the UK or abroad.
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