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Study Abroad

Leave the UK, study in Europe!

With UK students paying through the nose for a degree, studying in Europe – for a lot less – isn't to be sniffed at. Here's what you need to know.Girl with backpack in crowded streetCredit: Let’s get real: our Student Finance package has its flaws, the student cost of living can be painful, and UK tuition fees are now some of the highest in the world.

With this in mind, it's no surprise that more and more students are jetting off in search of a better deal - and studying in Europe could be it!

Not only can you swerve tuition fees altogether in many EU countries, you could pay less for living costs and grab the kind of experiences a home-grown education can’t deliver.

Cue the inevitable Brexit disclaimer!

It's true that the situation could certainly change in the coming years now that the UK has voted to leave the EU - soon, students from the UK could be forced to fork out international fees to study on the continent. This article focuses on the situation as it is now, since it's still unclear what Brexit will mean for international study.

This could be your last chance to get the best rates! No wonder 70% of you wanted to remain!

Specifically interested in doing a Master's abroad? Here's our top 5 European cities where you can do a postgrad for free.

6 top reasons to study in Europe

Crowds at the Eiffel TowerCredit:

  1. Free or low-cost tuition for UK/EU students, even at world-leading universities
  2. English-taught courses (but any language skills you get can push you to the head of the job queue later on)
  3. Boosts your independence and opens your mind
  4. Universities are keen to attract UK students, so there’s lots of support
  5. EU nationals have the same living/working rights across Europe (for now, at least!)
  6. Degrees are recognised around the world (depending what you study, obvs)

How much does studying in Europe cost?

Assorted european currencyCredit: FreePhotosBank.comAs it stands, UK/EU students can take advantage of much cheaper or entirely free tuition fees in Europe - saving the average body around 20 grand in tuition loans compared with British unis.

Some universities offer free teaching, while others charge an admin or ‘semester fee’ - typically in the region of a few hundred pounds. Take a look here to see what different universities charge.

What’s the catch?

Language. There’s less choice for English-taught undergrad degrees or, if they’re available, they may count as ‘international courses’ (with fees to match!).

If you’re up for the challenge, some institutions offer language courses to get you up to speed before you go. This can be a brilliant opportunity to get another skill (and future CV points), so it's not a bad trade for free or low-cost tuition!

There’s lots of pickings for Master’s programmes taught in English but, either way, learning the lingo makes it easier make friends and influence employers.

What’s the cost of living?

Toasted sandwichesCredit: estimate that crops up most is around £600/month (students in the UK spend around £770/month to get by), but Trine Sand, International Director at the University of Copenhagen, adds:

Copenhagen has many advantages. It is a safe and clean city, it is easy to get around, and when you are not submerged in your studies there is an abundance of things to do – also on a budget. But like many other capital cities in Europe the general cost of living is high and finding affordable housing can be a challenge.

So pick your country – and your postcode – wisely to keep costs affordable.

The semester fee at some universities includes a travel card, so you won’t have to shell out any more to get around, but you may be left with costs you wouldn’t have over here, such as health/medical insurance.

Will Student Finance pay for it?

Cat with reading glassesCredit: question. If you’re looking at studying your entire undergrad abroad, UK Student Finance won’t be available.

That means you’ll need to be self-reliant on savings, some generous support from your parents, or be prepared to work while you’re out there (which could depend on language skills or how many hours your uni lets you to work).

Don’t forget you could carve out a part-time living freelancing or by starting your own business or blog to make cash– the beauty of the web is that you really can work from anywhere!

However you earn a crust, make sure you get to grips with tax rules in the UK and in your host country: there's more info here.

Other funding

You may be able to access local student finance. UK students can apply for student loans in Italy, for instance, but the criteria is narrower than over here.

Postgrad students will find it easier to access scholarship schemes and other subsidies, but they're worth checking whatever you’re studying. Try the British Council and for leads.

Think twice if expensive private loans are the only way you can make studying abroad work: charges and interest could eat into the savings of free tuition, plus you won’t get the leniency that Student Finance gives you on repayments.

Before you go

Open atlasIf you like the idea of being a global citizen but don’t want to commit 3 years or more to it, you can always consider a gap year or (funded) ERASMUS exchange. And, while Europe has its appeals, Blighty has more than a few factors in its favour, too:

  • UK tuition fees are pricey, but you don’t have to pay up-front
  • You’ll only pay back your Student Loan if you earn enough later on (but see our concerns about repayments)
  • Homesickness can often be sorted by jumping on a bus. Study abroad and you’ll be more reliant on Skype, WhatsApp and vacations
  • You can take as much to uni as you can stuff into a car without worrying about freight costs or customs
  • Dealing with the authorities, or getting help, is easier when you know the lingo and have grown up knowing what to expect, especially if you’re not the pushiest bean in the barrel!

If you’ve read those and still have a hankering for adventure / massive money saving, Europe could be the destination for you. Use this guide as your cue what to find out next, and go for it!

What do you think – would you consider studying abroad? Have you done it and got prime advice (or cautionary tales) for other students? Let us know below!


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