Take the plunge Study abroad, save £50,000
On every measure, Britain is an expensive place to study, and students who shun our universities in favour of higher education abroad could save tens of thousands of pounds. Tuition fees in the UK have now reached £9,250 a year and students also face some of the highest living costs in the world. Fortunately there are a number of countries where universities offer degree programmes entirely in English.
Here are the main points you need to be aware of and some examples of how much it might cost to study for your degree abroad.
Finding a course
If you want to study in English, be prepared to do some digging. Master’s degrees taught in English are prevalent throughout Europe and Asia, but undergraduate options are harder to find.
Even if one university in a country doesn’t offer any Englishtaught degrees, others may, and programmes change frequently. The website BachelorsPortal.com allows you to search for degree programmes worldwide.
The Netherlands, Germany, Taiwan, Malaysia, Spain, Italy and China are some of the countries where you can find degrees taught in English, although the prevalence does vary.
What it will cost
Much depends on the university you choose. In the table on the right you can see the estimated costs for universities in seven countries, with the costs for University College London and the University of Manchester for comparison.
All of these options are cheaper than studying in Britain, even in locations where a bachelor’s degree course lasts four years.
Living costs, including rent, have been calculated using a combination of the universities’ own estimates, and figures provided by Moneycorp and data service Numbeo. We have assumed that a student incurs these costs for 10 months of the year, allowing for time spent back home. If in private accommodation there may be rent to pay in the remaining months.
We’ve also included the cost of flights. For the Asian universities we have assumed two one-way flights at the beginning and end of the academic year, plus one return flight for a trip home at some other point in the year. For European universities, more frequent trips home have been allowed for.
The tuition fees used are examples, as they can vary by course. Visa costs have been included where necessary. Here are three of the options broken down in detail.
University of Amsterdam
The Dutch capital is not a cheap city to live in, but standard tuition fees of £1,800 a year make it significantly cheaper than a British degree at £37,400 for three years all in. There are 14 bachelor’s degrees on offer that are taught in English, including political science, economics and business economics, and actuarial science. Nearly all Dutch people speak English and the university is ranked 58th in the world by QS, a rating service.
Moving to China is not for the faint hearted. Undergraduate degree courses at Tianjin last four years, but the total cost, at £28,800, is still around half the cost of a three-year degree in Britain.
Living costs are only around £400 a month and tuition fees are £2,300 a year. Flights will cost £3,600 over the four years. Tianjin, near Beijing, is one of the world’s largest cities. The university ranks in the top 500 globally, according to QS.
Three undergraduate programmes are offered in English: chemical engineering, environment and energy, and pharmaceutical science.
University of Milan
Fees at Italian public universities are means-tested. The University of Milan’s fees range from £140 to £3,650 a year. The one bachelor’s degree offered entirely in English – political sciences – is a three-year course. While living costs in Milan are high, the significantly lower fees make it a cheaper option than a British university.
The true cost of a British degree is the amount you will pay in student loan repayments plus any family assistance or money from part-time work. In many cases, graduates will repay more than they borrowed. Student loans from the UK are not available to those who head to a foreign university for their entire degree.
Those who study at a university in the European Union will be afforded the same assistance as a student of that country. It is not yet known if this right will be lost as a result of Brexit. In some cases there may be scholarships available, either from the universities themselves or from external bodies.
If no support is available, moving abroad to study is a viable option only for those able to fund their degree through family assistance or working. Whether or not students are able to work part-time to support themselves will depend on the country. If you are studying on a visa there are likely to be restrictions.
All of these options are cheaper than Britain, even for courses of four years
Handling money overseas
There are two routes to consider: keep money in the UK and use a competitive currency or credit card for the duration of the degree, or open a local bank account and move money across in chunks, using a specialist currency transfer service to get the best rate.
A bank account may be necessary. For instance, fees may have to be paid by bank transfer, and an international transfer could be expensive. Additionally, a local bank account could be required to set up payments for a phone contract or utilities.
Make sure you check the exact entry requirements for the course, as these will differ from UK universities, as will the application process.
Bear in mind that the academic year and application deadlines in other countries may not be the same as in Britain.
For countries outside the EU, you are likely to need to apply for a student visa.
Low country: students could pay £37,000 to study in Amsterdam, compared with £74,000 in London