Is it cheaper to study abroad?

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By in Study Abroad. Updated April 2016.

With UK universities now charging up to £9,000 a year to study, you’d be forgiven for jumping on the next plane out of here. But is it cheaper?HeaderimageThe idea of cheaper fees, sunnier climates and uni stories that put your friends’ to shame might sound like a sure fire winner but sadly there’s a bit more to think about.

From hidden costs and funding to making sure your degree is internationally recognised, it’s really important to do your research beforehand.

There’s no doubt that studying abroad can be an amazing experience though, so if you’re thinking of packing your bags and jetting off, reading this guide first might be a wise move.

How much does it cost?

adventureWith the recent hike in tuition fees still fresh in many student’s memories, it’s easy to assume that studying abroad will save you a packet.

Sadly, this isn’t always the case.

Popular destinations such as Australia and the US actually have much higher tuition fees than the UK and it’s also important to factor in the cost of living, travel and any kind of insurance you might have to take out.

Equally, some countries won’t charge you tuition fees at all.

If you’re looking for cheap then check out Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Malta, Norway, Sweden and parts of Germany.

We can’t tell you for sure how much it’ll cost you – this really is a case of doing your homework both on the university and the area it’s in.

However, to give you a rough idea of how much dollar you’ll be needing, here’s a handy table of the average cost of studying abroad.

These figures take the average cost of fees, living costs and travel and lump into all together in one handy sum.

CountryAverage Yearly Costs
America £19,600
Australia£20,000
Canada£15,700
France£5,300
Germany£4,200
Netherlands£7,000
Sweden£6,850
Finland£5,800

Don’t forget these figures are just an average. We can’t tell you for certain the cost of living or even the cost of your cost; it varies widely, even in the same country!

How will you pay for it?

student payday loansOne of the most important things to think about when studying abroad is how you’ll actually pay for it – for the most part you won’t simply be able to take out a student loan similar to the one in the UK.

The only real exception to this is studying in Europe. As an EU citizen you’ll be entitled to help with your tuition fees in the same way as home students are.

They don’t, however, have to give you a maintenance loan, but several countries have opted to help out anyway.

Many countries, such as Australia, will make you pay the whole shebang up front and also ask for evidence that you have enough money to get you through the whole year without taking on a job.

For more details on which countries give what, check out the Your Europe website.

You’ll also find that many countries will put a limit on how many hours a week you can work while on a student visa, so it’s well worth looking into all of these factors first, as well as looking at the part-time jobs market in general.

On the plus side though, many universities and even governments will offer scholarships which foreign students are eligible for. The Study Abroad site offers a pretty comprehensive list of what’s on offer.

How long should you go for?

wasting_time_20080311When people say  “study abroad” you might automatically think this means you’ll be gone for the entire length of your degree. This doesn’t have to be the case however.

Many UK universities offer the chance to spend some time abroad, whether for a few weeks or an entire year as part of your degree.

The most common scheme is Erasmus, where you’ll spend up to a year in a different EU country and gain credit towards your UK degree.

It’s probably one of the most cost effective ways of studying abroad too; all Erasmus students receive a non-means tested grant every month and don’t have to pay tuition fees to their host university.

You’ll often find your UK university will waive or lower your fees for your year abroad too… double savings!

Important things to consider

It’s also worth mentioning that there’s a lot more to think about than just money and time issues when studying abroad. We’ve come up with our top things to start thinking about before looking into studying abroad a little deeper..

Will your qualification be recognised?

First things first, you’ll want to check if your degree choice is recognised both here in the UK and the in country you’re studying in.

You don’t want to spend three years abroad only to find you can’t land a job back home because employers don’t think it’s a ‘real degree’.

The National Academic Recognition and Information centre (UK NARIC) has tonnes of information on this.

Can you get over language barriers?

Language barriers are also another factor to consider. Obviously this isn’t a problem in the US or Australia, as long as you remember country specific language differences – nobody wants to turn up to a party where the dress code specifies pants to find that they’re the only one with no trousers on!

While some European universities do teach full degree courses in English, a command of the host country’s language will still be beneficial in order to cope with the minutiae of everyday life.

Will you need insurance?

Travel insurance is an important necessity that is easily overlooked. Ensure your policy provides adequate protection for possessions – in case any essential gadgets are damaged, lost or stolen – and also covers you for any medical expense you may incur.

Healthcare isn’t free in every country like it is in the UK!

Will you require a visa?

Depending where you’re looking at going, you may also need to get a student visa and in some cases you’ll also have to pay for this too.

Getting a visa can take some time, so you’ll have to get your application in early.

If you are seriously looking into studying in popular destinations such as Australia, America or Europe make sure to check out our country specific advice.

Are you tempted to study abroad because of rising tuition fees? Or do you think it’s actually worse value for money abroad? Let us know in the comments below!

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