Studying abroad is becoming a more popular option for UK students to consider. With the increase in tuition fees at UK universities, many traditionally popular destinations for UK students, such as the U.S, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, offer options that are not that much more expensive than UK universities. The Far East, including Hong Kong, are also actively recruiting UK students.
Some U.S. universities offer particularly generous financial aid packages for international students who excel academically, often up to 50% of the costs or more. There are also a number of sports scholarships offered by U.S universities which can significantly reduce the costs of the degree course.
Studying in Europe is now also a much more viable option for UK students. Hundreds of degree courses across Europe are taught entirely in English, in order to attract international students and the cost of studying at many European universities (including Ireland) is often far cheaper than studying in the UK.
If you are planning to study abroad, you need to start your research early, ideally around the spring of Year 12 or before. The following websites will provide you with useful starting points for information you will need about choosing courses and universities, admissions and applications, finance etc.
United States and Canada:
Travelling, voluntary work, saving money: they all sound excellent. You can choose to have a whole year out or just a couple of months between finishing Year 13 and starting university.
Generally, gap years prior to university are seen as a “good thing” as students mature and gain independence in that time. This is especially true if the gap year includes an activity or responsibility with a definite focus. Research shows that students who take a well-planned, structured year out are more likely to be satisfied with their choice of course and, even better, more likely to complete it with a 2:1 or first class degree.
It is always worth checking with your chosen institutions to find out what their policy is, just to be on the safe side. If a university feels you are likely to become “rusty” with your subject, sometimes the case with maths, sciences or languages, they will advise you accordingly. Some university courses do not like making too many deferred entry offers, especially on competitive or small courses as they feel that this will skew competition and may deprive good students of a place.
You could also consider a gap year after university, before you start work. This is becoming a more popular choice for graduates as they benefit from being a little older; they may have met friends at university that they want to travel with, and it will delay repayment of student loans. This may not be a good idea for all career areas, however, so it will be important to check this out if it is an option you are considering.
Whatever you choose, check that you can afford it and get plenty of advice before you decide. There are lots of sites to help you choose your gap year so search for what you are interested in. The following are useful starting points:
- Year in Industry (YINI) - for paid work opportunities in UK industries (particularly science/engineering)
- Foreign & Commonwealth Office – travel advice
FCO Travel and Living Abroad
Gap Year and Volunteering Projects
Volunteering Opportunities AbroadVolunteering Opportunities In EnglandYear Out GroupQuest OverseasGap 360Plan My Gap YearGap YearFrontierProjects AbroadTravellers World WideGap DiscoveryAventureGap ForceOutreach International