“Studying Abroad is Too Expensive”

It’s not easy to move away to another country.

There are flights to book, visas to sort out, accommodation to find. Where is the local supermarket, can you drink the water from the tap, how many clothes is too many clothes to pack? It’s like starting at university all over again. I’m not going to lie – some financial investment is required when it comes to studying abroad. Visas aren’t free and flights can range from £50 to £800 depending on far away you are going. There might be student union fees or travel cards you need to purchase once you register at your host university. Let’s not forget that once you move to another country that doesn’t mean you are going to stay put for the full year either. You’re going to want to see as much of the region as possible since you didn’t fly 8 hours to stay on campus every weekend.

But there’s no reason why finances (or lack of) should stop you from having this incredible experience. Here are some things to consider if you’re worried about the year abroad price tag:

What’s In A Budget?

It can be scary to total up your expected costs for your year abroad, but once you understand how much you need/want to spend, you can start thinking about where that money is going to come from. Your day-to-day expenses may be similar to what you are used to in Exeter (food, drink, library fines, rent). It will be the extras that you’ll want to know the price of before you jet off (visa, flights, insurance).

Pay special attention to whether your host university requires you take out their own health insurance or whether your room has to come with the board option as is the norm in North America. Most universities will give exchange students a guide to how much a semester should cost them usually on the incoming exchange section of their website or in a factsheet/handbook. This will give you a great starting point, though don’t forget to also budget for sightseeing trips throughout the year.

Work Hard For The Money

It’s easier to save money if you’ve got an income. If you don’t have one already, I highly recommend that you find a part-time job before your year abroad. Whether it’s working behind the bar at the Imperial or stocking shelves at Sainsburys, that paycheck could translate to a flight to Barcelona for a weekend or visiting Hobbiton finally or getting to see the Macy Day Thanksgiving Parade in New York. Seems like Life 101 but the more money you’ve got saved up, the more you have to spend.

Also in some countries you can work part time on your student visa, so that income doesn’t have to stop when you leave the country. There might also be the opportunity to work full-time during the holiday period like in Australia, so check to see what you can and can’t do with your visa.

SFE Goes Abroad

You still receive your normal tuition and maintenance loan from Student Finance during your year abroad. When completing the necessary forms for your funding, you just need to inform Student Finance that you will be studying abroad in the next academic year. You might even find that if you give them enough warning, you’ll get paid when you arrive at your host university and not the usual payday in September.

There’s also the added bonus that your tuition for your year abroad is significantly cheaper than a normal year in Exeter – currently students only pay £1350. If you receive money from Student Finance that is dependent on your household income, you could also eligible for a travel grant. This grant can cover up to 3 return journeys between your home and your host institution as well as help with essential expenses, medical insurance and travel visas.

Erasmus+ Grant 

Did you know that if you study abroad in Europe, you will get money from the European Commission? Even with Brexit dominating the headlines, students from UK institutions will still receive the Erasmus+ grant up until 2020. Since it’s a grant, you don’t have to pay it back as long as you complete the paperwork and your placement. Students abroad in 17/18 will receive between €280 and  €330 a month depending on the cost of living in the host country. While this money is by no means a full maintenance grant, it will help with some of your year abroad costs.

Additional Erasmus+ funding is available to those with disabilities and health conditions where participation would not be possible without extra financial support. You can contact  for more information on how to apply. Students who currently receive the Access to Exeter bursary will automatically receive the Erasmus+ Widening Participation Grant.

More Free Money

BUTEX Scholarship

Students studying at a non-Erasmus institution can either design a poster or answer a question in order to apply for one of two £500 scholarships.

Mrs Bessie Rook Memorial Scholarship

Six £1000 scholarships are awarded to Exeter students studying in Germany or French speaking countries. This is not restricted to Modern Languages students, but you will need to be to demonstrate adequate knowledge of the language of your host country.

Languages for World Peace & Understanding Scholarship

£500 is available to an Exeter student studying in a Spanish or French speaking country. This is not restricted to Modern Languages students, but you will need to be to demonstrate adequate knowledge of the language of your host country.

JASSO – Student Exchange Scholarship

Japan Student Services Organization (JASSO) offers a scholarship for qualified international students study abroad in Japan. For the 2016-17 academic year a monthly stipend of JPY 80,000 is available. For more information, check their website.

Take A Step Back

Sometimes after all the calculations are done, it can become clear that there is no way you can afford that year in Sydney. Not only does the flight cost seem extortionate, the cost of living in Sydney is eye-watering. I’m not saying to give up your dream about living in Sydney, it might just be that now is not the time. Over 90% of the Business School students who studied abroad in 2015/16 said they want to work abroad because of their year abroad experience – just because you don’t go there on your year abroad doesn’t mean you’ll never go.

Take a moment to think about what you want out of your year abroad experience. You may be able to make ends meet in Sydney or you could study at different Australian institution and live a more comfortable life. If you find that deep down all you want is to meet people from all around the world and live in a different culture, you could consider other (read: cheaper) destinations like Slovenia or Mexico.


The cost of a year abroad can initially seem too expensive, but once you understand how you can tackle that amount, you can make a once-in-a-lifetime experience affordable.

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