Is Studying Abroad Better than Studying in the UK?

Studying abroad compared to a UK university education

Now that annual tuition fees for many UK universities are around £9,000 it raises the question: can British students get better value for money studying abroad? In many cases British students are finding equivalent educational opportunities at much lower costs outside the UK.

So how does studying abroad stack up against studying in the UK? One British student decided to study European Studies, in the Netherlands, at Maastricht University, where she will shortly begin her second academic year of study. She calculated that studying in the UK for a similar degree would leave her with at least £27,000 of student debt based on tuition fees, plus other possible associated costs.

Meanwhile the undergraduate European Studies Degree course she is attending at Maastricht University costs just £1,500 for tuition annually and her course is taught in English, as are ten other undergraduate courses at the same university.

So basically her degree will cost her just £4,500 in tuition fees and Maastricht University ranks in the world’s top 100.

However, the university does not have the traditional student halls of residence found at many UK universities, so many students opt to take a room in shared apartments or houses which can be more expensive. University life is also quite different from that in the UK, classes begin at 8:30am, and there are shorter holidays due to the fact that academic terms are longer.

Studying Overseas Emerging Trends

  • The number of British students considering studying abroad in 2014 rose by 17%
  • Top destination for British students studying abroad is the USA, followed by Australia, France and Germany
  • Most affordable study abroad location for British students: Germany costs just £4,200 annually including tuition fees and living expenses
  • British students studying abroad at universities in the Netherlands reached more than 1,000, double the number the year before
  • British students can take advantage of more than 1,000 university course in Europe which are now taught in English

Meanwhile in the UK

A British student studying Marketing at Newcastle University described how she felt after her first year at university, saying that after studying intensely for her A-levels she found the change to only having two-hour tutorial sessions in her first year marketing course to be much less demanding in terms of study commitment and she had spent most of the year settling in to student life.

Her course has a first-year pass level of just 40% (hardly stimulates the need for serious study) and even if students don’t attain it – they can resit the exam at a later date. So far her degree has cost her £9,000 in tuition fees and she lives in self-catering student halls of residence.

Newcastle University is in the UK’s top 20 universities with a stellar reputation and quite demanding entry requirements. Overall, she feels that in terms of value for money, she had hoped to have learned more in the first year, but the university has strong links with the local business community and offers help with professional work experience placements as part of her Marketing Degree course.

Is Studying Abroad Worth it?

While it may be cheaper to study abroad for some British students, a lot will depend on the availability of courses you might want to study. Not all university courses available in the UK are available in English in other European countries.

There are also additional costs involved in living away from home such as health insurance and, as mentioned, the cost of student accommodation may be higher in some countries. However, overall it seems that there is a growing trend for students from the UK to explore their study abroad options rather than just automatically signing up for a UK university education.

No doubt the number of UK students studying abroad will continue to grow as in many cases students find equivalent university degrees in other countries cost much less than studying at home and also provide valuable international experience and networking which many employers value nowadays.