Study abroad checklist

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International study is one of the most eye-opening adventures you can experience - but there's plenty to consider before packing your bags…

Studying abroad offers many benefits. It provides countless opportunities and often boosts your employability. 'Students can get so much from experiencing a different culture and perspective,' says Jonathon Murphy, international assistant at Durham University. 'Spending time abroad demonstrates to employers that you are adventurous, open-minded and willing to take part in something that the majority of students are not.'

However, postgraduate study abroad isn't for everyone. Nor is it a decision to be taken lightly. Here are seven study abroad tips for you to consider before departing the UK...

Create your shortlist

Once you've decided that studying abroad is your best option, create a shortlist of countries, institutions and course. Identify the best options by using the following resources:

  • university websites;
  • lecturers, tutors and researchers;
  • your local careers service.

If you're currently in UK-based study, ensure you can spend time abroad and still complete your degree on schedule. Avoid programmes that don’t transfer academic credit towards your award.

Choose your course

When you've whittled down your options, research them thoroughly to discover which one's for you. Seek the opinions of those closest to you, and only take the plunge when you’re fully committed to studying abroad. Ask yourself practical questions, such as:

  • Is your chosen country safe for foreign students?
  • Do you want to live in the city, or are you looking for somewhere quieter?
  • Will you fully embrace the student lifestyle abroad?
  • Will you learn a foreign language?

Many universities will then help you through the application procedure. Michael Rosier, director of international education at the University of Hertfordshire, provides students with expert advice and support. 'Studying abroad can be life-changing,' he says. 'It provides valuable international experience, giving a competitive edge in the graduate job market.'

Search for funding

Overseas tuition fees vary wildly. Some countries, including Australia and the USA, set very high fees for international students. Degrees in others, such as China and Taiwan, are much more affordable. Discuss funding options with your chosen university. There are many study abroad scholarships and grants available to help with the cost, including those from external bodies.

Budget for your trip

Saving money ahead of international study is often overlooked, so create an action plan and start saving well in advance. Some university websites provide estimates of your outgoings, so use these to your advantage.

The cost of living abroad can be huge, so your money might not go quite as far as it does in the UK. To make the most of your leisure time you will need spare cash. Also, don't forget to factor living expenses into your planning. Many universities offer campus accommodation, but there are often cheaper options available.

Apply for your visa

You must obtain an appropriate visa as part of your application if you're studying outside of the Nigeria (NG). Give yourself plenty of time to sort this, and also consider whether you’ll have to renew it at any point during your stay.

Immigration legislation changes frequently, so refer to the relevant national websites for the most current information.

Obtain travel insurance and check your health

There are numerous student insurance options available, ranging from standard cover to comprehensive alternatives. Insurance is essential, so be prepared to pay extra for the extensive choice - it’s often worth it.

Some countries, such as New Zealand, have very specific healthcare requirements which must be met before you enter the country. Some other places require you to have vaccinations. Visit your doctor for a full medical check-up before you leave, regardless of where you're heading. You can sort out ongoing prescriptions or specific medical requirements with your GP too - just leave time to arrange this before your departure.

Do your final checks...

Make sure your passport is valid for your entire stay. Renewing is possible in a foreign country, but waiting in long queues and filling in forms won't be the highlight of your trip.

Finally, not all university towns have a local airport, so figure out exactly how you're going to get to your place of study.