Part 1: Studying Abroad, the Frequently Asked Questions

In the first of an ongoing FAQ series, we look to answer the questions most commonly asked by those who wish to study abroad.

1.  When can I start applying for study abroad programmes?

Right now! As with any application, the earlier the better. It can sometimes be difficult to feel motivated to do so, but the sooner you are accepted, the sooner you can arrange your travel and living requirements (thereby giving you more choice and making things cheaper).

Application deadlines will differ depending on the school, but typically, for programmes starting during autumn, applications will last the first six months of the year.

Just keep a close eye on all the deadlines applicable to you, and make sure you keep notes in a journal or a calendar.

2. What are the entry requirements for studying abroad?

Short answer: it depends. Every university will have their own requirements, especially for international students. Research widely: you would be surprised at how easy it can be to get into top-quality institutions. Student fairs are excellent ways to find out what is available.

However, for an undergraduate you will generally be asked for evidence of the appropriate qualifications. If you are unsure whether your qualifications will be accepted, contact the admissions department of your potential university.

For those wanting to study in English-speaking countries, it is also probable that you need to provide evidence of your English-language skill by taking a test such as TOEFL or IELTS. Similar tests may also be necessary for those studying in other languages.

3. Which documentation should I submit?

It is possible you will be asked to provide some documentation as part of your application. Once again, requirements will vary depending on the university and country, but international students are often asked to provide the following:

·         ID (passport)

·         CV

·         Details for your references

·         Past exam certificates/ Exam predictions

·         Proof of language proficiency

Have this ready for when the university contacts you, but also be prepared if they require anything additional.

4.  How long does a study abroad programme take?

An undergraduate will typically last three or four years of full-time study, while a graduate degree, like a master’s, will take one or two years. A doctoral programme will usually take three to four years.

It should be noted that the length of time you spend studying abroad will depend on your course, the level of degree you’re taking and the country where you will be studying.

There is also often the option of sharing your time over two countries; spending the majority of the course at ‘home’ with the rest overseas, whether that be for a few weeks or a year or more. Information about these shorter programmes will be available on the website of the primary university you plan to enrol at, as well as the university you’d like to be hosted by.

5.  Do I need to apply for a student visa?

Student visas are an important consideration for those who want to know how to study abroad, but remember that not all international students need one. For example, if you’re an EU citizen planning to study in the EU, you will not need an additional visa.

Generally, if you come from outside of your chosen country’s geographical region, chances are you will need to apply for a student visa. This typically only applies to longer international study periods. If you’re participating in a short exchange, say three months or less, a tourist or visitor visa may suffice.

Again, to confirm this, check either with your chosen university or the government travel website of your country of study.