Attending university can be much cheaper in other EU countries (and many classes are in English).

11th September 2013

Steve Rees, managing director of debt consultant Vincent Bond & Co considers the benefits of looking abroad for university education.

It’s back to school time and the new university terms are looming large, but if you have chosen to take a gap year before studying or have been forced to reconsider things because you did not quite get the grades you wanted, then you may have just given yourself the opportunity of a lifetime.

With the average student debt for those starting university in 2012 expected to be £53,000 according to Push.co.uk, any way of saving a bit of cash on this score would go down a treat, especially since you can start your working life without the debt hangover that most students endure.

So, have you ever thought about studying, or if you are a parent getting your children to study, abroad? While it is certainly not the norm, more people are choosing this as an option in the face of rising costs here at home. In the year to June 2012, some 21,000 students left Blighty to study overseas, and it is little wonder when you can actually use your EU-residency status in the UK to take advantage of some of the best value education around. You cannot really do much better than free, can you?

This is exactly what you get if you choose to move to one of the countries within the EU that does not charge a fee for its education. Countries to consider include Austria, Denmark, most of Germany, Norway, Sweden – and you would not have to learn a new language to study either, you can find plenty of courses taught in English that should suit you just fine.

Add to this the benefit of, in many cases, a lower cost of living and you are in a win win situation. Germany, for example, is not only one of the least expensive countries to study in, but according to research at the end of last year from HSBC it also has one of the lowest living costs in Europe. Not only that, but funding an entire degree there would cost you the same as funding a single year of study in the UK. For instance, from the start of the 2010 academic year to the 2012/2013 academic year, a three-year degree would have cost you £12,893 – with your final year costing £4,210. Over the same periods, a UK degree would have cost you £29,994 with the final year at £15,587 – more than the entire period to study in Germany, and almost as much as the entire amount you would have spent on tuition fees on a three-year degree in France.

Employers in future years will also no doubt be impressed that you have spent time living abroad – it is part of making you a ‘more rounded person’ after all – and who knows, you may even pick up a second language to boot.

It is not as difficult as you might think to find out what opportunities are available in Europe or even further afield. This website http://www.studyineurope.eu/in-english has a list of more than 13,000 courses in Europe that are taught in English, along with the tuition fees you can expect to be charged, if any. If you want any other information, you can go to  http://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/international/studying-overseas/international-study-in-europe/ or http://www.studyportals.eu/ to find out whether this is the right decision for you and your child.

Vincent Rees blogs at www.vincentbond.wordpress.com.

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