Degree overseas: the pros of studying abroad

Learn skills, build confidence and gain maturity in another country

The idea of going overseas to study can be daunting, with visions of  baffling languages or nights spent in isolation while you are gradually forgotten by your friends and family. However, the benefits of studying abroad - such as broadening your mind, improving  your career prospects and making friends from all over the  world - can make digging out your passport really rewarding.

“Studying abroad is an eye-opening experience,”  says Anna Boyd, event manager at The Student World. “Being immersed in another culture, understanding differences and spotting similarities, living on a beach or in the mountains - all of this will have an impact on every student.”

Overseas study comes in many shapes and sizes. It might be a single semester abroad via an Erasmus  programme, for example. Or you might elect to follow a full three- or four-year degree programme. Whatever your ambition, he key is starting early. Some countries require specific combinations of A-levels from UK students. Germany looks for four A-levels including maths or science and one modern foreign language, for instance, while others, such as the US, value extracurricular activities. Starting  our research well ahead of time can help you make the right choices. “Getting involved in sports, arts and music is also worth considering, as well as gaining experience through volunteering and work placements,” says Boyd.

A head start also helps when it comes to applying, as there’s no convenient application system equivalent to cas or overseas institutions. “Students need to keep in mind that additional tests might be required,” says Boyd.  The application process can require additional documents or official translations, and the visa application for countries outside the EU can also take some time.” However, don’t be discouraged by the formalities. “My advice could be to look at it as if you were applying to a local university,” says Rob Maat, manager of international relations at Fontys International Business School in the Netherlands. “Universities abroad, just like UK institutions, have admissions offices for international students that can help with any kind of question.”

In fact, applying to study abroad could even work to your advantage. You might encounter lower entrance  requirements, or you could benefit from a longer application window. With Australian universities often having two intakes (in February and August) or Canadian institutions, such as the University of Winnipeg, offering three, there’s plenty of flexibility.

As for your course, the academic choices are as varied as you might find in the UK. It’s also an opportunity to explore different teaching methods to see if there’s a style that appeals to you. For example, many Dutch establishments favour problem-based learning and put a lot of emphasis on group work; or the US liberal arts  education gives students a wide range of subject choices in their first two years before they specialise in the  latter half of their course.

“The US is known for continuous assessment, whereas in Europe courses are more specialised and often passing  depends on one or two exams,” says Boyd. Food for thought if you fear exams, or loathe coursework. Cost is a significant issue. While some countries, such as the Netherlands and Norway, charge either low or no tuition fees  r have a relatively low cost of living, others, such as the US and Australia, charge fees running into tens of  thousands of pounds. However, there are a range of scholarships, bursaries and grants available, so thorough  research is key. Likewise, when you’re looking at courses and fees it’s important to check how the qualifications  re regarded. While many degrees are recognised globally, others, such as medicine, law and accountancy, might only be valid in the country you study in.

However, Mike Hill, chief executive at Graduate Prospects, points out that some employers value the skills you gain overseas a great deal. “Qualifications awarded from internationally renowned institutions can be highly regarded by global employers,” he says. “For example, Australian universities enjoy a growing academic reputation, therefore qualifications are internationally recognised and well thought of.”

Wherever you go, the value of overseas study is far more than monetary. Living and studying in another country offers a unique perspective, and provides the chance to travel, learn languages and meet people. Dan Russon, services director for graduate employer Xceed Group, says the skills acquired by those who study overseas are clear. “They are, by and large, better at communicating complex details. They’re also used to being put in group situations and are better at building a rapport quickly.”

Overseas study can make you more employable in other ways, too. “We’re operating in an increasingly global economy, where knowledge of different markets, cultures and languages is very important,” says Rob Fryer, lead of student recruitment at Deloitte. “Studying abroad and acquiring this knowledge makes it a valuable experience for both UK students and employers.”

“I put a premium on graduates who have studied abroad,” says Jonathan Simnett, strategic development director of Chameleon PR. “The experience does broaden the mind. It’s likely students will have had to overcome various difficulties while they were abroad, which adds to their maturity.” Homesickness is a real concern for many.

Never fear, says Maat. “You’re not going off the grid. This might have been true 20 years ago without proper internet or Skype, but nowadays home is just a click away.”

So if overseas study is your way forward, where do you start? Boyd suggests contacting universities straight away, talking to former and current students via social media and generally finding out as much as you can about the countries and courses you’re interested in. The Student World Fairs in October (see thestudentworld.com for dates and details) are also good opportunities to meet representatives from all over the world without getting on a plane. If you’re interested in studying at a US institution, visit USA College Day on 27-28 September at Kensington Town Hall, London, W8. And, of course, all of this is quite aside from perks like the cheap beer in France, Spain or Eastern Europe; the waves and weather in Australia; or the astonishing natural beauty and cultural quirks of the US and Canada. Passports on standby...

News
newsVideo targets undecided voters
Arts and Entertainment
Singer Pixie Lott will take part in Strictly Come Dancing 2014, the BBC has confirmed
tv
Life and Style
Cooked up: reducing dietary animal fat might not be as healthy as government advice has led millions of people to believe
healthA look at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
News
Evan Spiegel, the founder of Snapchat, dropped out of Stanford University just before graduation to develop his app
techAnd yes, it is quite a lot
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Pricing Manager, Finance, Edinburgh, £250-350p/d

£250 - £350 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is cur...

SEN Tutor- Speech and Language Specialist part time

£80 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Cover Supervisor

£45 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunities for Cover Sup...

IT Teacher September strt with view to permanent post

£110 - £130 per day + Competitive rates of pay: Randstad Education Reading: IT...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?
Rachael Lander interview: From strung out to playing strings

From strung out to playing strings

Award-winning cellist Rachael Lander’s career was almost destroyed by the alcohol she drank to fight stage fright. Now she’s playing with Elbow and Ellie Goulding
The science of saturated fat: A big fat surprise about nutrition?

A big fat surprise about nutrition?

The science linking saturated fats to heart disease and other health issues has never been sound. Nina Teicholz looks at how governments started advising incorrectly on diets
Emmys 2014 review: Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars

Can they genuinely compete with the Oscars?

The recent Emmy Awards are certainly glamorous, but they can't beat their movie cousins
On the road to nowhere: A Routemaster trip to remember

On the road to nowhere

A Routemaster trip to remember
Hotel India: Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind

Hotel India

Mumbai's Taj Mahal Palace leaves its darker days behind
10 best pencil cases

Back to school: 10 best pencil cases

Whether it’s their first day at school, uni or a new project, treat the student in your life to some smart stationery
Arsenal vs Besiktas Champions League qualifier: Gunners know battle with Turks is a season-defining fixture

Arsenal know battle with Besiktas is a season-defining fixture

Arsene Wenger admits his below-strength side will have to improve on last week’s show to pass tough test
Pete Jenson: Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought

Pete Jenson: A Different League

Athletic Bilbao’s locals-only transfer policy shows success does not need to be bought
This guitar riff has been voted greatest of all time

The Greatest Guitar Riff of all time

Whole Lotta Votes from Radio 2 listeners
Britain’s superstar ballerina

Britain’s superstar ballerina

Alicia Markova danced... every night of the week and twice on Saturdays
Berlin's Furrie invasion

Berlin's Furrie invasion

2000 fans attended Eurofeurence
‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

‘It was a tidal wave of terror’

Driven to the edge by postpartum psychosis