Studying abroad is a large part of the student experience, particularly in Britain, with approximately 39 percent of all students expressing some interest in doing a sandwich year (as of 2015).
In fact, the United Kingdom is both a massive importer and exporter of international students, being the second most popular destination following the United States. With just shy of half a million students studying in the UK (Approximately 21 percent of the total student population) the UK is world renowned as a place for international study.
But why do those students want to? Well, the first factor is obviously the world recognition of the British education system, with both Oxford and Cambridge being household names and the UK holding seven of the top 10 universities in Europe. This is obviously a massive boon to any international student looking to bolster their resume.
The second factor in why people study abroad is the opportunity to work in and visit Europe. In the UK, international student visas allow you to work for up to 20 hours a week which can be a hugely important when it comes to surviving as a student.
On the other hand, for those less inclined to work it’s also a gateway to seeing Europe, with cheap flights both in and out of the country, thanks to airlines such as EasyJet and Ryanair. Finally, we have the multicultural nature of the United Kingdom, which allows for a more welcoming atmosphere as you know you’ll never truly be alone.
On the flipside, many British students decide to leave home and study abroad. Again, there are a few reasons for this. First off, we have the much cheaper cost, at £9250 (approximately €10447) a year, the UK has the most expensive tuition fees in the world, an enticing push for studying, primarily in Europe.
A second reason for going abroad is the super competitive UK job market, with applicants seeking every edge possible. James Cantwell, a Europe in the World alumni echoes this fact.
“I studied abroad to better my life and take my perspective and career to an international level. We have so many barriers in our society which unfortunately prevent us from growing and developing,” Cantwell says.
Similarly, there is also the want to experience other cultures in their natural environment, though Britain is a multicultural society, it’s completely different to experiencing somebody’s culture in their own country.
As James puts it, “people and places are what have allowed me to grow as a man.” A nice sentiment to be sure!
In sum, there are lots of reasons that somebody would want to study in the UK or leave the isles to study abroad. With higher quality education and its identity as the multicultural capital of the world, the UK is a great choice for those wanting to further improve themselves.
Much the same is true for those on the other side of the coin, the British students who seek adventure and job prospects. In the end, I fully agree with the statement that, “For students of any age or ability, if they can, studying abroad is a fantastic opportunity,” as James so eloquently puts it. So, if you are on the fence about studying abroad, I would highly recommend taking the leap and going for it.