Studying at an overseas university

Studying abroad can be a rewarding experience however, there's plenty to think about before you apply to a university overseas. You'll need to do some thorough research on a number of things including, how you're going to fund your studies and practical issues such as entrance requirements and visas.

Doing a degree with an overseas university

Studying abroad could give you a whole new perspective on your subject and on life in general. It might also give you an edge in the job market by showing you are adaptable. Employers are increasingly looking for people who have international experience and language skills.

If you want to do your degree with a university based overseas, you should start planning well before - 12 to 18 months in most cases. Think about whether the country and course is right for you and learn as much as possible about the laws and culture in the country of your choice.

Choosing where to study

Remember that most countries don't have a central admissions system like UCAS in the UK - you'll probably have to apply to universities individually.

You can find out about higher education in other EU countries on the Your Europe website. This website has information on a number of topics including course structure, typical fees, and financial support.

The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website also has links to information on higher education in individual countries inside, and outside, the EU.

Other sources of information include the foreign embassies in the UK and for Commonwealth countries, the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

Ideas for courses

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Study Abroad guide includes a database of around 2,900 courses and scholarships available worldwide. As well as basic course information, you can get an idea of what financial help may be available.

Checking that institutions and qualifications are recognised

Doing a degree involves a great investment of time and money, so it's worth checking out that the institution you're thinking of applying to, or any qualification you may get, are recognised.

Checking institutions

You can use the website to check whether a university you're interested in is recognised in its home country. The website is run by the European Commission, the Council of Europe and UNESCO/CEPES and links which provide information on the education systems in over 50 countries. 

Checking qualifications

Even if an institution is recognised in its home country, you'll want to check what status the qualification you may get has in the UK.

If you are thinking of studying overseas, you can ask UK Naric about the accreditation and recognition of the qualifications you are planning to do. You can also find information about the overseas institution that you wish to go to.

UK Naric is the UK's national agency responsible for providing information and expert opinion on qualifications gained overseas. While it can give an opinion on the UK equivalency of an overseas degree, this is for information only and has no legal basis. UK employers and higher education institutions have the right to, or not to, recognise overseas qualifications.

Recognition of your qualifications is especially important for careers where you need it in order to practice - like law and medicine. You should check with the relevant professional body in the country where you will work if your qualification will be recognised.

Entrance requirements

As well as making sure that the course and university is right for you, there are practical issues you'll need to consider.

Many overseas universities offer courses in English, but some require you to take a language test before they will admit you. You'll also need to arrange any student visa, residence permit or other paperwork that's required.

 Information on entrance requirements within Europe can be found at:

Enic-naric. net's 'Country profiles' website has links to information about education systems worldwide with many including details of entrance requirements.

Funding your studies at an overseas university

It's important to be clear about how you're going to fund your degree abroad. Make sure you find out what financial support will be available, and whether you'll be allowed to work in the country you're thinking of going to.

Issues with funding will be different depending on which country you're planning to go to. Tuition fees could be higher or lower than in the UK, and in some countries there may be no tuition fees at all.

You also shouldn't count on getting the level of financial support you'd get if you were studying in the UK and you may be required to prove that you can support yourself from your own funds.

Make sure you've worked out how you're going to fund your studies before you make any applications.

Funding your studies in an EU country

For financial support, you should approach the education authority in the country where you plan to study. You can find out more about financial support in other EU countries on the Your Europe website.

As a UK citizen, you have the right, depending on certain conditions, to study or work in another EU country. You also have the right to be treated equally with domestic students in terms of the course fees you pay though not on maintenance grants or other help with living costs. There's more about these rights in the European Union guide, studying in another EU country.

Other sources of funding

A few UK charities and educational trusts give grants for overseas study, though the amounts involved tend to be small. You can find out about these from a directory of educational grant-making bodies.

There are also overseas bodies which award scholarships but these tend to be very competitive. The UKCISA website has links to some of these.

UNESCO has more advice for students looking for a scholarship to study abroad, together with a list of resources giving information on funding and fellowships for postgraduates.

Doing your degree at a UK university

Many UK universities take part in schemes allowing students to study or work abroad for part of their course, like the Erasmus scheme. One of these schemes could be a good option if you only want to do part of your course abroad, rather than the whole thing. More information on such opportunities is available at the link below:

More useful links


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