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Study abroad : Student Finances

The best exchange programmes in the world

Experience life in a new country lifestyle and make life-long friends along the way with a student exchange programme.

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For many students, studying their whole degree abroad is the right choice. Whether that’s for the university and course itself or just to experience living in a certain country for a while. For others though, they may want to see what living abroad is like without committing to a number of years outside their home country.


If you fall into the latter category, you may be pleased to know that there are a great number of exchange programmes available for you. These programmes allow you to study in a country of your choice for a semester or even up to a year. We take a look at some of the best exchange programmes out there.


What is an exchange programme?


An exchange programme is a set period of time that a student spends in another country at a partner university where they will usually be continuing their studies there. This is an opportunity for university students to learn the local language and immerse themselves in a new country and culture. In terms of accommodation, you might be offered lodging with a host family or live in student halls of residence. This is a great opportunity to experience a different way of life and alternative academic practices.


How long are exchange programmes?


The duration of exchange programmes differs depending on the one you choose. For example, you might decide to study in another country for a couple of weeks, one semester or for a whole year. It’s important that you check which options are offered by your home university. Some courses will offer exchanges while others will not, so you want to make sure you have done your research before starting a course to give yourself the best possible opportunities


What are some of the best exchange programmes?


Erasmus Programme


This EU-funded programme enables students to study or work in a European country. Popular destinations include France, Spain, Germany and Italy but there are 33 destinations on offer in total. The programme encourages students to improve their language skills and provides exposure to global education.


The Erasmus scheme is offered from anywhere between three months to a year. If you are interested in this programme, you should speak to your university’s Erasmus office or coordinator who will be able to advise you on your options.


Cost of Erasmus


Luckily, you won’t be required to pay any additional tuition fees during an Erasmus exchange programme. You can also apply for a grant to help with the cost of living if you require additional financial support. This can help towards things like rent that may be more expensive in your new country. Again, for more information, you will need to contact the person in charge of organising your university’s Erasmus programmes.


Chevening Scholarships


As studying abroad can be expensive, another great way to study in a new country is by obtaining a scholarship. The Chevening scholarship programme is particularly well known, offering to fund students who want to study for a postgraduate degree in the UK


To be eligible, you will need a 2:1 grade (or equivalent) in your undergraduate studies, in addition to possessing the necessary skills and personal qualities needed to succeed as a global leader. You should also check that your country of citizenship offers the Chevening scholarships as these are not available across all countries.



Global Undergraduate Exchange Programme


If you’re interested in experiencing American culture without spending the international student fees, you might want to consider applying for the Global Undergraduate Exchange Programme. This scheme is designed to give students the chance to experience what the USA has to offer.


During this programme, you will have the chance to improve your English language skills and will be required to complete academic coursework and take part in cultural enrichment activities. As part of this programme, you will also be awarded a scholarship to cover the costs of international travel, accommodation, tuition, a monthly allowance and funding for books. Successful students are chosen based on their academic excellence, leadership potential and interest in studying in the U.S.


ISEP Exchange


If your university is an ISEP member, you can swap places with a student from another ISEP exchange institution. You will have a choice of up to ten partner universities/colleges and the programme coordinators will find you the best option depending on space and your preferences.


The ISEP exchange programme is run across 50 different countries, but opportunities will depend on where you have signed up. You will pay tuition and fees to your home institution as normal but will be required to pay an application fee of USD $100 plus USD $395 when you accept your placement. These fees will be paid directly to your home institution.


Fulbright U.S. Student Programme


Operating in more than 160 countries worldwide, the Fulbright programme offers around 8,000 grants on an annual basis. This scheme is both for U.S. citizens who want to study or conduct research in a different country and for non-U.S. citizens with a desire to study in the U.S.


Funding is provided to cover the cost of accommodation, travel to the host country/U.S, a 24/7 support line and more. For further information about the different awards on offer, check out our guide about the Fulbright programme.


When should I apply for a student exchange programme?


Application deadlines differ according to each university and scheme so you will need to check the specific dates according to the year you intend to pursue an exchange programme. Contacting your university well in advance is the best way to make sure you don’t miss out.


Why should I apply for a student exchange programme?


Before you go, take a look at some of the key reasons for undertaking a student exchange programme to get you feeling motivated and inspired:


  • Experience a new culture

  • Learn within a different education system

  • Broaden your mind

  • Improve/learn a language

  • Meet new people and make friends

  • Gain independence

  • Add to your CV

  • Try new foods

  • Develop self-reliance

  • Learn about yourself

  • Face your fears

  • Have an adventure


Interested in applying for one of the above student exchange programmes? You can check out their websites for more information, or alternatively, you can contact universities directly to find out what opportunities and advice they can provide. 

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