When it comes to broadening your horizons, there are few better means than education or travel. So, it’s little wonder that every year hundreds of thousands of people all over the world choose to do both at once, with recent surveys suggesting studying for a degree abroad is becoming an increasingly attractive prospect for those in the UK.
It can be a truly life-changing experience, and statistics show that in 2017-18, 34,025 UK students opted to further their education in a foreign land, while a whopping 458,520 arrived on these shores from other countries to do the same.
More than 30% of those UK students headed across the pond to the United States, while others ventured as far as the likes of Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It’s a choice that can open up a whole new world of possibilities, but there’s no denying it also poses some significant challenges – both for the students and their parents. But what are these obstacles and how can they be overcome?
A year on from the first lockdown in the UK, the Covid-19 pandemic is still the elephant in the room when it comes to making any plans – especially those that involve international travel. Restrictions remain in place, which means there is likely to be limited opportunity for UK students to head overseas in the foreseeable future.
For those who do have plans to study abroad this year, the government has published detailed guidelines, which include advice that “participants should be ready to comply with local isolation, testing or quarantine requirements, and will need to rely on the local health system.” Meanwhile, any prospective students should also be “conscious that their placement may not be able to continue as originally planned, but there may be opportunities for it to start at a later date if the situation changes and this is feasible.”
The underlying message is to remain flexible and be prepared to accept that plans may change due to factors outside of everyone’s control.
In the past, many UK scholars have been able to study in Europe through the Erasmus scheme. But having since left the EU, the UK is no longer participating in that initiative and has instead announced the Turing scheme, which will provide £100 million of funding to help those who wish to further their education elsewhere.
For those planning to begin their studies abroad in 2021, the government advice is to “contact your higher education provider to check if there are any changes to your situation from 1 January 2021,” in the wake of the UK leaving the EU.
Of course, aside from a global pandemic and other geopolitical concerns, there are also financial issues for students to contend with. Not only will they be required to cover the cost of course fees, accommodation and other expenses while they’re away, but it’s important that students are able to enjoy themselves socially and enjoy a good quality of life as they embark on their exciting adventure. In order to achieve that, they might need a little financial help – potentially from the bank of mum and dad – and it’s important to establish some ground rules to ensure everyone is on the same page.
For example, setting a budget will mean the student knows exactly how much they can expect and that once it’s gone, that’s it. It’s also vital to use a secure means of payment such as an international money transfer, which will mean any funds should safely make their way to the intended recipient. And of course, it’s good practice for the parents or guardians to set aside some additional money, just in case of emergencies or if the student runs into any problems.