Broaden your horizons with international study

Venturing overseas to get a degree makes you attractive to employers – and it's fun

UK students may be beginning to break out of their island mentality, according to new figures from the British Council. Released exclusively to The Independent, the provisional findings show a 6 per cent rise in take-up of the Erasmus programme, the EU initiative that enables students to spend a year of their degree studying abroad. The total number of takers in 2008-09 was a record 10,843.

The British Council attributes this rise to students wanting to boost their credentials in the recession, as well as a new opportunity to do work experience on the programme. "A period abroad gives students something extra for their CVs, it makes them stand out from others who may have the same grade but no international experience," says marketing manager Jude Thomas. "Students are once again looking for a key differentiator to ensure they get a good job when they graduate into a difficult economic climate."

This is the second year running that the number of British students taking up the Erasmus programme has, slowly and tentatively, increased. The same pattern appears to be happening at postgraduate level. In 2007, 10 applications were made by British universities for the Erasmus Mundus programme; this year, there were 18. New data from America also shows a 4 per cent increase in British students travelling to the USA this year, a trend boosted by organisations like the Fulbright Commission that offers scholarships to the bright and poor.

Despite these increases, Brits are still massively under-represented in undergraduate and postgraduate courses across the Continent. Last year, only 10,278 British students left the country under the Erasmus programme compared to 18,729 students that came to the UK. This asymmetry continues even though universities on the Continent often have good courses, lower prices and frequently teach in English.

Take the HEC International Business School in Paris. A prestigious institution that has been running since 1881, it was voted the number one business school in Europe by the Financial Times this week. An institution with comparable rankings in the UK is the London Business School, but that charges £45,000 for an MBA rather than £41,000. Other continents have woken up to the opportunity – 20 per cent of HEC's 200 students are from North America and 35 per cent are from Asia – but only 3 per cent are from the UK.

According to Valerie Gauthier, associate dean at HEC, Britons are missing out. "Our students come from all over the world and they want that diversity when they come here. They know it makes them more attractive to employers. If you want to succeed in global business, you have to be able to work with different people.

"British students think that everything will be taught in French, but everything is taught in English. Often, what puts off potential candidates is simple misunderstanding and a lack of knowledge about what HEC is about."

Once they break through the stereotypes, European educators claim that British students are pleased with the education they receive on the continent. Simon Burns, 21, took his undergraduate in Liverpool. By chance he came across an MA in European studies at Maastricht University in the Netherlands on the internet. After he saw that the fees were one-eighth of the price of those in Britain, he decided to go for it.

"I just stumbled across it, but now I'm here I'd definitely recommend it to others. It sets you out from the crowd, it pushes you out of your comfort zone and it's good life experience," he says. "These courses should definitely be promoted more in England. People [at home] are impressed that I did it, but they still think I'm a bit weird – studying abroad isn't the done thing."

European universities are trying to encourage more British students to pick up their passports. This year Maastricht is taking out adverts in more than 15 student newspapers in the UK. In France, business schools such as EMLyon are introducing programmes designed to appeal to international students, including an opportunity to spend a year in Shanghai.

In the west of France, Audencia Nantes school of management is trying to make examples of their few British students, publicising their fast-paced careers into top European companies. Such opportunities are probably worth breaking the island mentality for. As Burns says: "If you don't like it, you can always go home."

News
Tommy Ramone performing at The Old Waldorf Nightclub in 1978 in San Francisco, California.
peopleDrummer was final surviving member of seminal punk band
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

Sport
The Mexico chief finally lets rip as his emotions get the better of him
world cup 2014
Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
PROMOTED VIDEO
Voices
Spectators photograph the Tour de France riders as they make their way through the Yorkshire countryside
voicesHoward Jacobson: Line the streets for a cycling race? You might just as well watch a swarm of wasps
Life and Style
lifeHere's one answer to an inquisitive Reddit user's question
News
peopleDave Legeno, the actor who played werewolf Fenrir Greyback in the Harry Potter films, has died
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Sport
Yaya Touré has defended his posturing over his future at Manchester City
News
Detail of the dress made entirely of loom bands
news
Life and Style
beauty
Sport
There were mass celebrations across Argentina as the country's national team reached their first World Cup final for 24 years
transfersOne of the men to suffer cardiac arrest was 16 years old
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
News
A mugshot of Ian Watkins released by South Wales Police following his guilty pleas
peopleBandmates open up about abuse
Sport
Basketball superstar LeBron James gets into his stride for the Cleveland Cavaliers
sportNBA superstar announces decision to return to Cleveland Cavaliers
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows, Network Security)

£60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Trade Desk Specialist (FIX, Linux, Windows...

First Class Graduate (Computer Science, Economics, Finance)

£23000 per annum: Harrington Starr: First Class Graduate (Computer Science, Ec...

Drama Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Liverpool: We are looking for someone who can t...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice