A grand tour for the modern age

Stephen Hoare looks at the incentives for studying at European universities

Ask any student which universities combine affordable living with an exciting lifestyle and they might name places such as Cardiff or Manchester. But the British Council says better deals can be found much further south – in Europe.

The universities of Granada and Valencia in Spain top the council’s league table of destinations for UK Erasmus students. In Valencia, a meal at a cheap restaurant costs €10.14, a monthly travel pass costs €38.32 and a student apartment outside the city centre can be found for as little as €255.56 a month.

Established to encourage students to spend from a semester to a year at university in another EU country, Erasmus is Europe’s biggest provider of bursaries for overseas study. Last year, around 13,000 UK students, mostly undergraduates, took advantage of an Erasmus grant. “Two thirds of the mobility is to Spain, France, and Germany, which corresponds to the commonest languages studied at university level,” says David Hibler, Erasmus programme manager at the British Council.

A typical Erasmus grant of €375 a month contributes to accommodation and living costs while a student is living abroad. The grant is paid in three tranches and is not means tested.

The combination of an Erasmus grant, student loan and the fact no tuition fees are payable, means students can complete their time in Europe without going into debt. Students who spend a year on Erasmus have the added advantage that their home university tuition fee is waived as well – a saving now worth up to £9,000.

Helen Scott took a year out of her BSc in neuroscience with German to work in a research laboratory at the University of Cologne. “Over the year Erasmus paid me almost £4,000. Before starting my year abroad, I travelled to Cologne to find a flatshare. Sharing with three other people cost me €350 a month, which my parents paid by standing order.

Throughout the year, I earned €60 a week teaching English to a family for four hours a week. That helped me pay for the things I needed like my travel pass (€200 per semester) and food. I received the last instalment of my Erasmus money when I got back to England and that paid for my summer spends,” says Scott who reckons that she broke even.

The cost of living varies across Europe. The cheapest costs are found in southern and eastern Europe, where the British Council is offering a one-off supplementary grant of €400 for students heading to less visited countries, such as Croatia, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Poland and Romania.

From Southampton Solent University, Piers d’Orgée spent a semester at the Hogeschool in Utrecht and another at the Danish School of Journalism in Aarhus as part of his BA in journalism. “Denmark is a very expensive place to live. The cost of a tin of baked beans is roughly £1.50 and for a pint of beer, it’s £5,” says d’Orgée.

While Erasmus is only designed for up to a year abroad, British students are increasingly studying full-time at European universities. Degrees taught in English and low fees are only part of the attraction. Many offer bursaries or government aid that UK students can apply for. Grenoble Graduate School of Management has scholarships for cultural diversity, an outstanding professional woman award and an early bird grant for the first students to apply.

With campuses in Paris and Lille, IESEG, one of the top French grandes écoles, attracts UK students to its business courses. Students can get help with the cost of accommodation, but must register with the Caisses d’Allocations Familiales (CAF), which administers financial aid for housing, and have a valid resident’s permit. Like many French universities, IESEG offers merit based scholarships. “France can be a great alternative for English students. The school provides free French classes to help students adapt to the environment,” says IESEG dean Jean-Philippe Ammeux. The costs of living are generally lower than in UK.

Meanwhile, the reasonable living costs and low tuition fees of the Netherlands can be worth as much as a scholarship. In Rotterdam a student can find an unfurnished room for about €350 per month. Tuition fees are kept at a reasonable level by the government, consolidating it at a mere €1,830 from 2013.

Applications to European universities are usually direct and via the university’s website, so students should take the opportunity to ask about any grants or bursaries they might be eligible for at the earliest possible stage.

In Germany, Berlin’s Humboldt Universität advises students seeking scholarships to accompany their application with references, a detailed CV and a letter of motivation. Berlin offers a begrüssungsgeld – a €100 “hello” to every new student starting in the city to help see them through their first few days.

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

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Software Developer

£18000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate Software Developer i...

AER Teachers: Graduate Primary TA - West London - Autumn

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: The school is seeking gra...

AER Teachers: Graduate Secondary TA - West London

£65 - £75 per day + competitive rates: AER Teachers: The school is seeking gra...

Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Surrey - £25,000

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Graduate Developer - Croy...

SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent