About Application Process
Where in the world should I study?
Choosing where in the world you wish to study is not always an easy task. As well as your own personal interests you should think about practicalities such as the costs of studying in that country (both tuition costs and living costs), your graduate career prospects (is there a good job market?) and your overall safety and welfare.
You should also think about what sort of lifestyle you wish to have during your studies. Do you want to live in a big city or a small university town? Do you want arts and culture on your doorstep or world-class sporting facilities? Whatever your interests, be sure to match them up with your study destination so that you really give yourself the best chance of loving your international experience.
If you need help making up your mind, take a look at some of the most popular destinations – Australia, Canada, Germany, the UK and the US – or use the links below to view our university rankings and full range of country guides:
- All country guides (Europe, Asia, North America, Latin America and more)
- QS Best Student Cities 2015 (the world’s top 50 cities for international students)
- QS World University Rankings® 2015/16
- QS University Rankings: Asia
- QS University Rankings: BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa)
- QS University Rankings: Latin America
How long do study abroad programs take?
The length of time you spend studying abroad will depend on the program and level of degree you’re undertaking. Generally, an undergraduate degree will take three or four years of full-time study (for example, in the UK the typical length for most subjects is three years, while in the US the norm is four), while a graduate degree such as a master’s degree or equivalent will take one or two years. A doctoral (PhD) program will usually take three to four years.
At many universities across the world, there is also the option of studying abroad for a shorter period of time. Student exchange programs allow you to study abroad for a year, a semester or even just a few weeks. Information about these shorter programs should be available on the website of the main university you plan to enroll at, as well as the university you’d like to be hosted by.
When can I start applying for study abroad programs?
Considering your application as early as possible is the best way to go. After all, the sooner you gain acceptance into a university, the sooner you can arrange your travels. To avoid disappointment, note down all the relevant application deadlines (set out by your chosen university) in HUGE LETTERS on your calendar.
Application deadlines will be different depending on the school, but generally speaking, for programs starting in the fall (September/October), applications will be open from early in the year (January/February) until the middle of the year (June/July).
What are the entry requirements for study abroad programs?
Entry requirements vary widely between universities and between countries, so be sure to check the information provided by your prospective university before submitting anything.
Speaking generally, however, if you are applying for an undergraduate degree you will be asked to show that you have completed your secondary education to a standard that is in line with the required grades (e.g. your GPA, A-level grades or equivalent) for the program you’re applying to. If you have an international qualification and are unsure whether this is accepted, you should contact the admissions department of the university.
For non-native English speakers wanting to study in English-speaking countries, it is also highly likely that you’ll need to provide proof of your English-language proficiency by taking an English-language test such as TOEFL or IELTS. Similar tests may be required for those studying in other languages.
What documentation should I submit with my application?
You may be asked to provide some supporting documentation as part of your application. Once again, requirements vary depending on the country and university, but international students are often asked to provide the following:
- Passport photos for identification
- A statement of purpose
- Academic references/ letters of recommendation
- Certificate and transcripts of your secondary education
- Proof of English-language proficiency (e.g. a TOEFL/IELTS certificate, for schools in English-speaking countries), or other language test
- Admissions test results (e.g. GMAT/GRE results, for graduate programs)
Will I need to attend an admissions interview?
As a prospective international student, it is relatively unlikely for schools to expect you to attend an admissions interview in person, although this is not unheard of – especially for the most competitive programs.
Some universities hold international interviews in various locations around the world, so you may be expected to attend one of these. There is also a growing trend of using video interviewing. This is like any other interview, with a prearranged time and date, but will take place online, via an application such as Skype.
After gaining a letter of acceptance, what do I do next?
Congratulations, you’re in! Now all that’s left to do is to prepare for your studies, pack up your life into a single (large) suitcase, get your travel documents in order, apply for your student visa, research your accommodation options, and look for funding… don’t panic, it’ll all be worth it!
In fact, as soon as you gain acceptance from a university, the first thing you should start to consider is your travel documentation. Ensure you have a valid passport and travel insurance, as well as a student visa if you need one. Make sure you have sufficient time to get your passport/visa approved so that you’ll be able to travel legally!
Can I change my course to another area of study ?
You will need to discuss this with your current provider as the policies and procedures vary for international students. In most cases, you are restricted from transferring your course during the first six months of the program. If you want to change before completing the first six months of your program, you must apply to your current provider for their permission. If they agree, you will be issued a release letter.
Where can I find a part-time job?
A condition of your student visa limits you to working a maximum of 40 hours per fortnight during semester time in some country. To look for a job, you can use job search engines or visit individual company websites where they advertise their employment vacancies.
How can I find shared accommodation?
There are several accommodation options for international students . These include: a homestay with a family, renting privately, short term temporary accommodation, and on-campus / unilodge shared accommodation. Many students book temporary accommodation when they first arrive in Australia. We recommend you book between 2-4 weeks of temporary accommodation prior to your arrival and commencement of your course. Once you have attended the orientation, you will be given information about local accommodation options. Other students choose to share a rental house or apartment with other students as this reduces costs. It is advisable to secure accommodation with easy access to public transportation. For accommodation availability, you can check local newspapers and websites.
Can I get a scholarship from my University?
Some providers offer scholarships. You will need to check with your provider, or discuss it with your program counselor.
How much does it cost to study abroad?
To work out the cost of studying abroad, you need to consider the average tuition fees for international students in your chosen country, as well as the cost of living.
As a point of reference, the average tuition fees for international students studying in the UK are UK£12,000 (US$18,200) a year, with an additional UK£7,000 (US$10,600) per year needed to cover living costs. In the US, the average yearly cost is US$28,500 with an additional recommended budget of US$15,000 to cover your living costs. With these yearly figures in mind, remember that undergraduate programs in the US tend to last a full four years.
In some countries, there are no tuition fees at all. Notable examples include Germany, where undergraduate-level education is free for all, and a number of the Nordic countries such as Finland.
Can I get financial aid to study abroad?
Although many international students may find it difficult to get a student loan to fund their studies, there are a myriad of other funding opportunities available to make studying abroad more affordable, including scholarships, fellowships, studentships, sponsorships, grants and bursaries.
Your chosen university is perhaps the best place to get funding information relevant to you, so make sure to scour the school’s website for advice, or contact the school directly. This is also where information about study abroad scholarships offered by the university and other external organizations can be found, along with details regarding eligibility and how to apply.
Many scholarships are granted based on academic merit, and are highly competitive. There are also lots of funding schemes targeting specific groups of students, such as students from developing countries and women studying male-dominated subjects.
Where will I live during my study abroad program?
If your chosen university has readily available campus accommodation, it is likely that you will be able to apply for a place in these student halls. If this is not the case, you will need to find your own accommodation.
If money is no object, you can consider renting your own flat, while those on a smaller budget can find shared accommodation with other students or use spare room listings found online. In all cases, you should make sure you do your research before signing anything or handing over any money. Your university’s student support team and student union should also offer advice on how to find accommodation locally.
About Student Visas
Do I need to apply for a student visa?
Student visas are a big question for those who want to know how to study abroad, though not all international students will need one. If you’re an EU citizen planning to study in another EU country, for instance, you do not need to a visa. However, as a rule of thumb, if you come from outside of your chosen country’s geographical region/continent, you will probably need to apply for a student visa. This usually only applies to longer periods of international study; if you’re participating in a shorter exchange, last three months or less, a tourist or visitor visa may suffice.
Can I lodge an application to extend my student visa if my previous student visa has expired?
As an international student, application for visa extension should be lodged prior to expiry date to avoid penalty. A valid visa is required for you to remain legally in most European countries.
If I decide to transfer to a degree program at university after six months of diploma study, what should I do with my visa?
Your visa subclass is decided according to the education sector of your program course. If you change to a degree program, you should change your visa category.