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Studying Abroad

If you choose to do a study placement through Erasmus, you’ll get the chance to study at another university in Europe as part of your degree course. Studying abroad is an ideal way to improve your language skills, access a wide range of subject areas and experience education in a different country.

Erasmus study placements are open to students at all levels of higher education, including people doing bachelor’s degrees, master’s degrees and doctorates. However, most students undertake Erasmus study placements in the second or third year of their undergraduate degree. Erasmus study placements don’t have to last for a whole year either; you can study abroad for just a few months if you so please!

Can anyone doing any course do Erasmus?

Pretty much! You don’t need to be enrolled on a three or four year course either; if you’re doing a short-term vocational course (like a foundation degree or HND,) then you will also be eligible for Erasmus. And if you start grumbling that part-time students are excluded from everything, you might like to know that Erasmus is open to part-time students as well; provided you commit to studying full-time when you’re abroad.

As an undergraduate, you can apply for a study abroad placement in your second or third year at university. All the universities in the UK, and many of the UK’s other higher education institutions, are involved with the Erasmus programme. The vast majority of courses are compatible with Erasmus. However, there are a few exceptions. Indeed, Erasmus might not be an option for certain courses, so you’ll have to check with your university first.

Don’t worry too much about your language skills either. You definitely don’t have to be fluent in the language of your host country; many universities run courses in English and you can brush up on your language skills by attending an Erasmus Intensive Language Course.

So it’s a gap year during university then?

Not quite. You’ll still be studying and quite often the grades you achieve will count towards your final degree. In fact, it can form an integral part of your course and you’ll receive formal academic recognition for your period abroad. Consequently, it’s important to remember that this studying abroad malarkey is pretty official stuff. Before you go off gallivanting abroad, you’ll have to sign a ‘learning agreement’, which sets out your programme of study at the host university. You might have to sign a study agreement with your home institution too.

Once you’ve completed your studies abroad, you’ll receive an Erasmus Transcript of Records, which confirms your academic results.

Where will I be able to study?

Well, there are over 33 European countries participating in the Erasmus scheme, so there are plenty of options. However, where you go does depend somewhat on the existing partnerships your university has with other higher education institutions in Europe. You’ll need to check who your university has a study agreement with and there might also be exchange links specific to your department. Get in contact with your Erasmus exchange co-ordinator to find out what European universities your home institution is partnered with.

What’s the damage?

The beauty of Erasmus is that there’s very little financial damage. You’ll receive a grant from the EU to help you with your living costs, which will be provided in addition to the grants or loans you are already receiving. In the academic year 2009/2010, the grant was €250 -  €400 a month. The best bit? You don’t have to pay it back. Free money ahoy!

Nor will you have to pay tuition fees for the institute you plan to attend. If you are studying abroad for the whole year, you’ll get your home tuition fees waivered too. Otherwise, if you are doing a shorter course, you’ll probably have to pay reduced tuition fees to your home university.

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