Why Study Abroad?
More and more British students are choosing to go to university overseas and they are doing so for a variety of reasons.
- A Sense of Adventure
- Learning a Language
- Finding the Best University for your Subject
- Finding the Best Style of Education for you
- Lower Fees
- Lower Entry Requirements
Choosing a university these days is often a question of evaluating the “value for money” of the degree. Many students perceive that doing a degree abroad will make them more employable.
It’s not as simple as saying that a university degree from abroad will make you more employable than a degree from a British university. What does make a difference is that if you choose to spend some time abroad you will become a different person, and that person may be more employable.
If you live in another country you are likely to be facing different challenges. You will meet people with different values and different points of view. In order to be happy in such an environment you will probably need to become more adaptable and flexible in your approach to different situations.
Employers increasingly value graduates who have lived abroad and developed intercultural skills. There are plenty of international students who have these skills and British students need them in order to compete for “British” jobs!
2. A SENSE OF ADVENTURE
The next reason is the most important attribute you need if you are to make a success of going abroad. Even if everyone’s employment prospects could be enhanced by time abroad it would still be the wrong choice for many people.
From all the interviews we have done with students who have gone abroad, they all have one thing in common – a sense of adventure.
One of our students said:
“I knew from a young age that travelling abroad and meeting people from different cultures excited and interested me.”
If you can imagine yourself saying something like this then studying abroad could be the ideal opportunity for you. If not, then do something else.
We have lots of evidence to show that students who do go abroad tend to look at it as being one of the best decisions they ever made. We also have evidence to show that those students who don’t take advantage of the opportunity may later have cause to regret it.
3. LEARNING A LANGUAGE
The next reason why you should think about going abroad is one that tends to divide British audiences – the importance of learning languages.
Learning a language will certainly improve your understanding of the world around you and probably also your career prospects.
More and more employers are asking for students who can speak an additional language because it demonstrates an ability to communicate with others.
Many of you may not think you are capable of learning another language but it can be done. The best way to learn a language is to go to the country where it is spoken, of course.
4. WHAT IS THE BEST UNIVERSITY FOR MY SUBJECT?
One of the questions students ask when investigating their options is “What is the best university for my subject?”
When you are trying to answer that, don’t restrict yourself to British universities because the best place for you might be somewhere else.
However, it is also true that for some subjects you may very well be better studying in the UK because the curriculum could be different. The clearest example of this would be something like law, where if you go abroad you won’t be studying English law.
The best facilities, faculty and environment for your chosen subject might not be in this country.
You can find lots of alternatives in our course directory.
5. WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO STUDY…?
Even if you think you have found the perfect course, the learning environment may not suit you. Universities abroad can offer you many alternatives to the British model of studying.
In some countries it is common to study a wide range of subjects at university before specialising on one choice. In other countries it isn’t possible to study more than one thing, with even Joint Honours degrees being impossible to find.
Also, look very closely at the learning style and classroom environment at your choice of university. Will you be sitting in lectures all week with hundreds of other students? Will you have small classes and lots of interaction with your lecturers? There is a wide range of ways to learn and inevitably, some will suit you better than others.
Finally you need to consider how you will be assessed during your degree. Will you have regular exams throughout the three-four years of your degree or will you be assessed more on the basis of written work, group presentations and other forms of assessment?
No one-way of learning is best for everyone. You need to decide for yourself which is the best way for you. How can you work this out? Well, it can be difficult but the best way is without doubt the same as it is in the UK – go to an open day. See if you can imagine yourself being a student there for 3 to 4 years of your life. If possible go on a day when you can sit in on some classes.
6. LOWER FEES
Can you Save Money by Studying Abroad?
This is perhaps the main reason why you might think British students are going abroad. It isn’t quite as simple as that …
The cost of going to an English university is very difficult to predict. We know that with the £9,000pa tuition fees the predicted cost of a 3-year Bachelor degree will be between £50 and £55,000. However, we cannot know what each individual student will repay because this depends on earnings in the 30 years after you graduate. You may pay next to nothing for a British degree or you may pay £55,000 plus 30 years of interest. It is impossible for anyone to tell you for sure what your education will cost you.
In some countries tuition fees are much lower than in the UK. The usual tuition fee at Dutch universities in 2014-15 is €1,906 per annum.
There are some countries where education is free. There are no tuition fees in Denmark for example.
However, there is one other important thing you need to know that means that even if tuition is free, university abroad might still cost you more than staying in the UK. If you go abroad you will not be able to access any help from the British government. No loans, no grants, nothing.
So, even though it is cheaper you will have to pay for it yourself.
7. LOWER ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
The chances are you could get an offer from a university abroad that is significantly lower than what you need in the UK.
For many European universities all you need are 3 A-Levels. You might have to have Maths or other specific subjects but the grades themselves don’t matter as long as you pass. So the question of “What grades do I need?” is not important.
Just because a university will let you in doesn’t mean it is the right place for you. Many universities will offer you the chance to see if you can meet the required standard but if you can’t they can be quite brutal. So instead you should be asking:
“Will I be able to cope with the academic workload and is this the right university for my career objectives?”
The first year at university abroad is really important. You will have your first exams after 8 weeks and the grade you get will count towards your final degree. If you fail your first and second exams it is possible that the university will ask you to leave.
Keeping your options open
Realistically you will need BBB or above to go to a top university abroad but there are universities for all students with all kinds of aspirations.
What this means for you is that you could line up an additional insurance offer abroad. The UCAS process has nothing to do with applying to international universities so you can choose five British universities, select two offers, and also line up an additional, probably lower, insurance offer from a university abroad. There is nothing to stop you from applying to British and international universities at the same time.