You’ve heard of study abroad. And you’ve heard of earning a college degree. But did you know you can study abroad for your entire degree? It’s an awesome option to pursue—especially if a summer or semester abroad doesn’t sound like a long enough experience to satiate your voracious appetite for knowing world cultures or striking out on your own as an intrepid traveler.
But where can you go? Are there risks involved? Will your international degree be taken seriously in the UK? Read on to learn our best advice on things to consider as you weigh whether you should get your degree abroad or at home.
Studying Abroad for Your Degree FAQs
What are the benefits of studying at a university abroad?
Get ready to just sit back and soak in the myriad benefits to studying abroad. For one, your college experience is bound to be WAY more interesting than any of your high school peers’. You can study specific subjects in destinations more pertinent to the topic—love marine life? Get your degree in Australia—and could strategically find programs that will allow you to study under experts in your preferred subject area.
What’s more, some degree programs abroad vary in length compared to their UK counterparts. You could spend four years of your life solely focused on knowledge gain and learning. (The world’s best job is “student,” you know!). OR—for our less-than-bookwormy-friends, why spend three years slogging to class when you can spend two? Depending on where you go to university abroad, this can mean both less time and, potentially, less money spent.
Lastly, if becoming more independent is a goal of your college career, nowhere will launch you into full-on adulthood as quickly as “abroad.”
What options are available for earning a degree abroad?
Loads! From mathematics to literature to Mandarin Chinese to business and finance and everything in between. Largely-speaking, most academic opportunities you would like to pursue at a British institution will likely have an equivalent course at a study abroad university.
Our friends at GoAbroad wrote a great piece about the most popular degrees to earn abroad. Check it out!
Who can apply to study at a university abroad?
You. And you. And you. And you! In actuality, university admissions policies and requirements vary from institution to institution. Before you get serious about applying to any degree abroad program, you should be well-aware of their expectations for students admitted to their school.
Very generally speaking, you should try to at least check off the following boxes before getting your hopes up about earning a college degree abroad:
- You have a high school degree
- You can prove good financial standing (sometimes schools will ask for bank statements and pay stubs)
- You fulfill any requirements for visa eligibility
- Have a passport (duh!)
How much does studying abroad typically cost?
As mentioned above, studying abroad for your degree can actually cost you less than an equivalent degree in your home country. However, you do need to plan for additional expenses that you might not have thought of for a degree from your home country, such as costs to cover flights home for the holidays, travel insurance, or emergency medical funds. And, if your dream is to study under Madeleine Albright or Oprah (or a regular run-of-the-mill professor) in the United States, you need to be prepared to fork out the big bucks.
Further, some countries won’t allow you to work while on a student visa (hope your savings account is in order!). So if part of your plan for paying for college included a part-time job, that might be out the window.
To find out the cost of that international degree program you have your eye on, make a rough budget that includes the following:
- Tuition fees
- International student fees
- Food costs (whether a campus dining plan or other)
- Transport fees for campus commutes
- Housing/dormitory fees + utilities (You need a strong WIFI connection to Skype home! We mean, uh, to study).
- Emergency medical funds
- Travel insurance
- Flights to and fro twice annually
- Projected day-to-day expenses (#coffeebudget)
Plop that all in a spreadsheet and you’ll have ballpark anticipated costs to getting a degree abroad. Woot! Now to make a game plan on how to pay for it…
Will a degree earned abroad be recognised in the UK?
You betcha! While there is no automatic recognition in the UK for degrees earned in foreign countries, there are steps you can take to legitimize your accreditation in the state’s eyes.
Two areas of study aren’t always as easily transferable from abroad to the UK: law and medicine. These disciplines tend to vary significantly across borders and there’s a potential that your education in a foreign country doesn’t equate to the standards in the UK. You can research this more in depth and talk to your high school counselors about good options before you make any decisions.
Tips for Applying to Universities Abroad
Application requirements will vary from university to university. We recommend starting a spreadsheet to keep everything organized, and asking your former teachers and supervisors in advance for recommendation letters that you can easily submit alongside your essays and proof of studies.
Your cover letter should absolutely demonstrate your independence, your ability to be culturally sensitive, your willingness to invest in the local culture, and a broad understanding of how this international degree will fit into the bigger-picture of your life goals.
There are dozens of scholarships, grants, and bursaries available to help you fund your long-term studies abroad. Be sure to check with the foreign government of your intended destination for scholarships to attract badass international students like YOU!
Recommended Universities for Earning Your Degree Abroad
There are so many incredible institutions to earn a degree abroad from around the world, but some just do it better than others. The Times Higher Education has a comprehensive list, and here are the top five universities we recommend for British students wanting to earn a full degree abroad:
- American University of Sharjah. Get MORE than a taste of the Middle East in this rapidly developing world class city. Study social/physical/computer/life sciences, engineering and technology, or the arts and humanities.
- Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Calling all future doctors! This could be a good option, even if you want to ultimately practice in the UK. Study clinical, pre-clinical, & health courses here.
- University of Luxembourg. Study a variety of subjects in this excellent institution—over 50% of the student body will be international students like you!
- École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. The mountains of Switzerland are calling and you must go! French or Italian speakers (or aspirants)—this is a great opportunity for you.
- Murdoch University. You won’t know what to do with all that sunshine. Check out this top-notch school in Australia to pursue degrees in a variety of subjects, including psychology and education.
So… Should You Consider Studying Abroad?
It’s clear that pursuing a degree abroad as a UK student is a worthwhile effort. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Become a global citizen and jumpstart a life of meaning and adventure by getting an international degree!