My finances, my projects, my life
February 19, 2020

Studying abroad: how much, how and when?

Studying abroad is a dream for many students. A dream that often collides with a painful reality: cost! To avoid disappointment when preparing, ask yourself how you can finance your plans before considering how and when.

How much does it cost?

Unless you have family living locally or a particularly generous scholarship, studying abroad will be expensive. Very expensive! Prepare yourself for this reality. You will need to plan a budget factoring in housing, tuition fees, transport costs and other expenditure once you arrive. And clearly, some countries are more expensive than others.

In 2014, an analysis of 15 countries was carried out to calculate tuition fees and average living costs. The result highlights vast differences in costs between destinations.

CountryUniversity fees
/year
Living costs
/year
Total cost
/year
Australia$24,081$18,012$42,093
Singapore$18,937$20,292$39,229
USA$24,914$11,651$36,564
United‐Kingdom$21,365$13,680$35,045
Hong-Kong$13,444$18,696$32,140
Canada$16,746$13,201$29,947
France$247$16,530$16,777
Malaysia$2,453$10,488$12,941
Indonesia$4,378$8,527$12,905
Brazil$59$12,569$12,627
Taiwan$3,338$8,573$11,911
Turkey$1,276$10,089$11,365
China$3,844$6,886$10,729
Mexico$750$8,710$9,460
India$581$5,062$5,642

Source: “Value of Education”, HSBC, April 2014.

Who can help me to fund my education?

If this has cooled your interest a little, then now is the time to take inspiration and tell yourself that, after all, there is considerable help to be found, as well as the possibility of financial support from your family.

For example, the EU Erasmus grant is an incentive reserved for students of the Erasmus programme. It is not awarded automatically, and your application must be made to the school or university where you currently study.

In Luxembourg, there are also a number of grants and loans available from Cedies, along with approved banks. The organisation provides very substantial support for eligible students to freely continue their higher education abroad. A simulator can be used to calculate the amount granted depending on the applicant’s profile.

How to leave?

So the budget issue has not put you off? Great! It is time to consider how. The most famous and probably the most complete programme is Erasmus. It consists of a student exchange between the various participating countries. This agreement allows for exchanges between the 28 European Union member states, as well as Iceland, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Turkey.

  • All universities awarding a government-recognised degree can offer the Erasmus programme. On top of this are private establishments approved by the State.
  • Further education students (DUT/BTS) do not have access to Erasmus directly after receiving their diploma, as they are not in university education as such. Technology institutes and high schools can, however, develop partnerships with foreign universities outside of the Erasmus programme. If this concerns you, then contact your current place of study for more information.

“Volunteering through the National Youth Service is just one of many possibilities”

Apart from Erasmus, there are other programmes that allow young people to study or live abroad for a while as part of an exchange. This can take the form of help financing your project, or assistance with the numerous formalities. Volunteering through the National Youth Service is just one of many possibilities.

When to leave?

Though generally agreed that it is better to go for at least a semester, ideally you should stay a year or more. Ultimately the decision is yours, and it is important to be realistic about your resources and time scale. Indeed, a lot of things can go wrong. You may regret it if you act on an impulse. Going abroad also means taking a break from your family, friends, surroundings and your routine for the most part. So above all you must feel ready.

When should you leave? This is one of the most important questions. At what point in my education am I allowed, or is it better, to leave? Whatever degree you are working towards, start your preparations as early as November or December to meet most of the deadlines set by host countries. In terms of your education, there is no particular “right” time to leave. It all depends on your plans.

  • Before the baccalaureate. Some schools and organisations offer programmes for young people under the age of 18 who want to spend a few weeks with a host family abroad, through language exchanges.
  • After the baccalaureate. Joining a foreign university after the baccalaureate is entirely possible. Most EU countries have their own exchange system. Find out more from your school.
  • After a higher education certificate (DUT/BTS). In the third year, you have the possibility of joining numerous three- or four-year programmes abroad. In theory, qualifications such as Bachelor or Bachelor of Honour are recognised as being the equivalent of Bac+3 in Luxembourg. Find out more about equivalence.
  • After a bachelor’s degree. It is possible to join many courses leading to a master’s level. Before you set out, you need to ensure that your qualification in the relevant country is mutually recognised. NB: universities start getting quite selective at this point and often require high grades. Find out more about higher education abroad.
  • After a master’s degree. Once the degree has been recognised, post-master’s students are welcome in most countries, provided that their application is good or even very good. At this level, numerous forms of assistance and study grants are available.