I spoke with my friend Colette to get some extra quotes into this article.
Despite the substantial benefits, figures suggest that the vast majority of university students are being put off studying abroad due to a lack of information. Over three quarters of students feel that they lack sufficient material needed to make an informed decision, and are deterred by worries about costs and language ability.
Research from the British Council, which surveyed 2,239 UK students, has shown that just 20 per cent of students consider overseas study. Over half of these feel that there is not enough information or that they have had to work hard to find it, while 24 per cent said they did not have enough information to make an informed decision.
The report concluded that: “there is the need to equip students with adequate information for them to be able to make informed decisions about overseas study. It is important that students are able to understand and articulate the skills that can be gained from study abroad experiences and appreciate how such an experience could benefit them in the long term.”
Less than two per cent of the UK student higher education population, a total of 33,000 students, experience some or all of their studies overseas.
The greatest motivation for students studying abroad is to boost their career prospects. Most students feel that their degree is not enough on its own. 90 per cent of those considering studying abroad, and 60 per cent of those who are not, think that an overseas study experience would give them the edge in the jobs market.
Gordon Chesterman, Director of the University’s Career Service, emphasised the value of additional skills to add to a CV through a year abroad. He said that many Cambridge students have their year abroad after graduating. Some five per cent of last year’s first degree graduates took time out, including for travelling. He admits that making arrangements for a year abroad is difficult, particularly with a student’s college, and that the next best option is summer opportunities that the Service promotes.
Colette, a second year law student at King’s, has decided to study at Utrecht University in the Netherlands next year. She said: “I knew I wanted to do a year abroad throughout high school and college because I loved doing languages so much and they’re really important to potential employers. There was information about how to apply, but there wasn’t anywhere near enough information about finances. I was basically told ‘you’ll come back with a profit’ and that there will be some funding from the British Council; that was it.
“Preparation for it has been non-existent so far. I was told about my interview two days in advance in the middle of week 8 of Michaelmas which is incredibly busy and I wasn’t told that the vast majority of it will be in German about the German constitution, which is only studied in [the] second term of the German Erasmus students’ course. It was ridiculous.”
Thirdyearabroad.com is the UK’s largest network for providing help and advice for students who work or study abroad during their degree. Its founder, Lizzie Fane, said: “The more information the better – students should be aware of the year abroad before they start university, so they can plan for it properly. The year abroad makes students unique; the combination of studying, working and travelling makes you stand out to employers and have something to talk about in interviews.”
Through the launch of a new website by the British Council, it is hoped that more students will consider studying overseas. It provides detailed information and answers questions as to what, why, where and how to spend a year abroad, as well as giving advice on securing funding and applying for visas and healthcare.
Story link: http://www.varsity.co.uk/news/5820