Studying abroad


Have any of you done a degree or PhD abroad? Please share your experience if so.

My son is 17 and I’m really trying to encourage him to think about doing his degree abroad. I’ve done loads of research and found lots of degrees he might be interested in (animation/game design/creative media etc) that are delivered in English and most of them are free or very cheap. Lots of great options in countries like Germany, the Netherlands, Finland, Sweden etc.

We’ve said we would consider moving anywhere he wants to go. If this does happen I’ve been thinking that I’ll do a PhD as most European countries actually pay you to do one!

Any thoughts or advice would be good, thanks!


It seems to me that there would be very few (if at all?) downsides to this.


You have suggested and you have researched?

Does he actually want to do this?


That’s brits abroad for you.


I’ve studied plenty of broads


He’s open to considering it. To be clear, it’s absolutely his decision. If he wants to study in the U.K. thats his choice, but I think it’s important to give him all the information (we’ve also talked about degree apprenticeships) so he can make an informed decision.


kinda doing something similar at the moment, and I’m 98% in favour. A few thoughts though:

  1. brexit…who knows what that could do to the situation
  2. even if the course is in english, may be more difficult to integrate with local students than it would in the UK, and international students would be a smaller pool of people who come and go all the time. Where I am all the local students go home every weekend too


Seems like the ones in Netherlands and Germany are reeeeeally cheap/completely free, probably worth the lager snobbery


Would totally move to the Netherlands


get him to do a really expensive social sciences degree in the world’s most expensive city, like me.


Yeah definitely valid concerns. I think he’d be quite keen to live in halls to have the whole student experience, and we would just base ourselves within an hour or two to where he studies (depending on a range of factors).

The Brexit thing is definitely something to be investigated. I’d hope that if the degree starts before we officially leave the EU then hopefully international fees wouldn’t apply for subsequent years. But maybe that’s naive!


mate just go on friends reunited or something


Yeah I did social sciences. really useful! :joy:


Some countries most people stay with their family and commute to uni.

Also for instance Germany and Austria, they don’t really have the same fixed length course as here. You graduate when you’ve racked up enough class credits, but a lot of people stop and start because there were no modules they wanted that term, the class was oversubscribed, they got a chance to earn some cash by temping, they want a break, that kind of thing.


Ah ok, that’s good to know, thank you. I’d picked up on the fact that in some countries it’s a modular programme where you pick and choose the bits you’re interested in, but didn’t know that people stop and start.


Just running straight through is something for super-focused type A sort of people over there.


I don’t have any knowledge about the types of courses you’ve mentioned and can only speak for social sciences …

Many of the English language programmes will be relatively new and the institutions may not have built up the teaching expertise, reputation in the field, and may still be in the process of trial and error.

It may not be such a problem for the sorts of programmes he might be interested in but many institutions don’t have anything like the quality of library facilities most UK universities have. Online content is also more limited at many of them (but there are ways to get around this and most departments help out). This is improving a lot but overall, access to materials in English will almost definitely be at least a bit less.

He may be one of only a few native English speakers. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing of course but it does mean he might be in classes with people who are still learning English or who speak to each other in their local language. Does he speak/want to speak other languages?

Semester/term times vary too so he might have summer holidays that don’t correspond to those of his friends back in the UK. In Germany for example, I have friends who have classes and exams until July/August then go back again in November.

As @Em says, there tends to be more flexibility with course length so in Germany, Finland, Belgium and I think Sweden you get people doing an extra year just for the sake of it and it’s affordable so why not.

I guess its also possible that student mobility might not even be an option in a few years so that’s a factor maybe.

@shrewbie has studied in the Netherlands I think
@still_here has studied in Belgium (at a French speaking uni, on a programme taught in English).


you may also want to look at universities that would have a whole one year exchange. iirc, you don’t always pay UK fees for that year.


I did most of my second year at a college in the Netherlands.

In retrospect, it wasn’t a great idea. The course was in English, but there weren’t many native English speakers on the course. I made friends with the guys I house shared with, but with nobody at all at college. If your son is gregarious and happy to just get talking to people without any knowledge of the language then it’s probably not a problem, but I had barely left Essex at this point in my life and didn’t adapt well.

Anyway, I ended up sacking off college and just got baked every day and just hung out. Was absolutely brilliant but I nearly failed the year because of it.


I did a semester at a French uni as part of my degree. I was an Erasmus student so my experience would be pretty different to a home student’s, but I found it really difficult to meet any French students and despite trying at first I just ended up making friends with other international students and other Brits. Like other people have said, the French students tended to live with their parents so they didn’t go out at weekends or even in the evenings really, think I went to one social event with French students in the five months I was there and the rest of the time I spent going out with Erasmus students. It could be different for your son though if he’d be starting at the same time as everyone else and classed as a home student in a way.

It’s a very different kind of university experience - student unions and societies are a much bigger deal in the UK, for one thing. I joined the mountain sports clubs at my French uni and went on a couple of day trips, but there was no social side to the club at all even though it was one of the biggest (and only) clubs on campus. Universities in the UK do a much better job of integrating students and encouraging them to get involved in that sort of thing, which at least for me was really key to making friends and doing stuff that wasn’t work. It felt like being back at school in comparison to my UK uni experience.

It really depends on the sort of person your son is: he could have a really good time if he finds it really easy to make friends and can adapt to the differences in the university experience, but most people I know who studied abroad found it pretty challenging.