European Study Abroad: How to Study in More than Country without Going Broke

In our previous blog, we talked about the importance of global citizenship and the role international exposure plays in that development.  We discussed the financial challenges the US study abroad programs present as well as the fact that some of these programs even limit integration with non-US students. Less than 10% of US college students study abroad. In contrast, study abroad is an integral part of being a full-time student in EuropeThe EU sees study abroad as aligned with their policy agendas for growth, jobs, equality,  and social inclusion.  Further, the EU has set a goal that all citizens should have the opportunity to acquire at least two languages, something that the European study abroad programs also foster.

They note that this international exposure leads to “improved learning performance; enhanced employability and improved career prospects; increased self-empowerment and self-esteem; improved foreign language competencies; enhanced intercultural awareness; more active participation in society;”.  These are exactly the reasons we think studying in Europe is important as well!

Unlike the US university system, which views studying abroad as an opportunity to generate high fees from unwitting students, the European study abroad is promoted by the EU who puts money INTO encouraging students to study in outside their home country. This is one reason why the number of English conducted programs has increased over the past couple of decades. Having these programs taught in English encourages European study abroad.

The EU has a program called Erasmus+. This is an umbrella organization that encompasses many European study abroadprograms that encourage mobility among young people. The student mobility program is one that all degree students at participating European universities can participate in, even international students!

So, if you are a student at a European university that participates with Erasmus, (and most do) you have the opportunity to spend up to twelve months of your program on a European study abroad (and sometimes outside of Europe as well). This can be studying at another university or doing an internship in another country or a combination of the two. You can use the twelve months for each level of study (meaning you can participate during your bachelor’s degree program and then again during your master’s program). There are logistical benefits to the Erasmus program, for instance, you are assured that your credits will transfer, there are structures in place to assist with housing and student life, and all internships have a written agreement that includes a clear focus and specific project that will offer the student exposure to an occupation, industry or field (no fetching coffee). I recently worked with a student who really wants to study in Spain, but there were not a lot of English conducted full degree programs in her area of interest.  She decided that she would be fine spending one of the three years of her program in Spain, so will apply to schools in other European countries with the plan to study in Spain through Erasmus.

There is also a financial benefit to European study abroad. Students on Erasmus continue paying the tuition of their main school, even if the tuition at the university they are visiting is more expensive. Think of Jared, who is only paying $1,000 per year.  Almost any other school would have a much greater tuition, but he would continue to pay the KU Leuven rate while studying elsewhere through the Erasmus program.  Further, students can apply for an Erasmus grant which provides monthly stipends of 150-500€ per month depending on the cost of living of the country. Here’s the other great thing – students can do the internship (with the grant) the year after they graduate so long as they complete the application and selection process during their final year of studies. Given that employers hire 50-75% of former interns, this is a fantastic opportunity to get a career off to a strong start.

You don’t hear much in the US about study abroad opportunities in master’s degree programs. In Europe, not only is the student mobility program open to master’s degree students in European study abroadEurope (again, even international students) there is also the Erasmus Mundus program.  These are really interesting and often integrated programs that are developed and implemented by a consortium of higher education institutions in at least two different countries. Students study in at least two countries and receive a joint degree from the universities of the consortium.  There are 94 of these programs that are conducted entirely in English. There are options for just about every field of study that you can think of: Agriculture,  Arts, Design, Humanities, Social Sciences, Health Sciences, Computer Science and Technology, Business, and more. These programs are relevant to today’s issues and often involve professionals from related companies which helps students understand how to apply the knowledge – not to mention network!

Some examples of the programs are:

Journalism, Media, and Globalization

Study in Denmark, the Netherlands, UK, Germany

This program provides “a unique educational experience with students studying and living in at least two European countries. The first year of the degree is spent in Denmark with the entire cohort, and the second year sees students split into smaller groups and move universities to specialize in one of four distinct areas of journalism: War and Conflict, Business and Finance, Media and Politics, or Journalism and Media Across Cultures. Students learn to combine academic, theoretical knowledge with journalistic skills, and to analyze, interpret and generate knowledge about the global changes that increasingly challenge traditional boundaries.”

Food Science Technology and Business

Study in Belgium, Portugal, Germany

This program helps “foster innovation and technology in order to cope with the future needs and sustainability in food science, technology, and business? The aim of the program: To foster and develop knowledge and awareness of scientific trends and health issues in food science, technology, and business in a global context. In addition, the course seeks to enhance student’s professional competence in areas such as safety, management, and ethics.”

Medical Imaging and Application

Study in Spain, France, Italy

“Medical Image Analysis and Computer Aided Diagnosis (CAD) systems, in close development with novel imaging techniques, have revolutionized healthcare in recent years. Those developments have allowed doctors to achieve a much more accurate diagnosis, at an early stage, of the most important diseases. The technology behind the development of CAD systems stems from various research areas in computer science such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, pattern recognition, computer vision, image processing and sensors and acquisition. There is a clear lack of MSc studies which cover the previously mentioned areas with a specific application to the analysis of medical images and development of CAD systems within an integrated medical imaging background. Moreover, the medical technology industry has detected a growing need of expert graduates in this field.”

Migration and Intercultural Relations

Study in the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Norway, Germany

They “address issues that currently rank highly on the global agenda – and need expertise on transnational, transcultural and transdisciplinary level. Migration and mobility, flight, displacement, and refugee – globally and (supra)nationally discussed primarily on a policy level – touch decisive dimensions in economic and social development, demography, international relations, political theory and cultural cooperation, to name some, not all of the key areas. Sustainable answers bridging the interests of nation states (incl. their welfare systems and labour markets) with human rights, democratic values and globality have yet to be found. Research on intercultural relations and intercultural communication is closely linked to these questions and frequently key to the understanding of problems and conflict.”

Most of these programs cost around 9,000€ per year (convert to $) for a two-year program, but Erasmus offers scholarships for each of the programs. These merit-based scholarships cover 100% of the tuition, 1,000€ per month for living expenses, and even money for a travel allowance (the amount is determined by how far your home country is from your study country). The scholarships are quite competitive, but most of the programs offer other scholarship options as well.

The fact that these EU-funded programs are open to international students really speaks to how highly the EU values globalization. They want students from around the world to study with them because the outcome is positive for the world as a whole and benefits Europe. If you have read our blogs, you already know that you have an incredible number of options for a high quality and affordable education in Europe-conducted entirely in English. You also have the opportunity to study in more than one foreign country without extra cost, all while gaining relevant skills and knowledge for the workforce.  There are over 1,700 English conducted bachelor’s and over 4,200 master’s programs throughout continental Europe. Let Beyond the States be your guide to all the exciting educational options in Europe by becoming a member today.

Are US Study Abroad Programs a Good Path to Global Citizenship?

I’ve talked before about the importance of exposure to cultural diversity and how grateful I was to have it as an integral part of my life growing up in Chicago.  I knew that this was something my kids would not have in their day to day life growing up in our homogeneous town of Chapel Hill, NC. Tom and I made it a priority to expose them in different ways with an eye towards global citizenship. We made it a priority to travel internationally from the time they were young, even when it meant long flights with cranky kids or making financial sacrifices.  As they are older now, we see them developing the qualities associated with global citizenship.

“Global Citizenship” is a bit of a buzz word, but something that is important to many individuals and global citizenshipfamilies. A global citizen is one whose identity includes, but expands beyond, the country in which they grew up. Global citizenship means being aware of, respecting, valuing and identifying with the world community, not just your home country. Since the countries of the world are part of their identified community, global citizens are just as devastated by atrocities occurring around the world as they are about those that occur in their home country.  Thus, the problems occurring in different countries around the world have global citizens attempting to affect change around the world’s problems.

Experiencing other cultures can help lead to global citizenship.  Through travel, you can see similarities and differences of each culture. You can incorporate parts of the cultures into your own life.  In our home, we always take off our shoes like they do in Japan and Sweden and try to include various hygge throughout following the Danish tradition. I love a good post lunch nap (Spain & Italy) and our pantry reflects food discoveries we have made in various countries. Further, I adapt the guidelines of Italy regarding acceptable levels of wine consumption!

Interacting on a personal level with people from different countries enables a greater perspective on world events.  As I mentioned in a previous blog, I had a really eye opening discussion with a 30 something hipster in Prague about his own experiences as a child under communist rule and his thoughts on the current situation in the US. While the qualities associated with global citizenship are important for personal development as well as increasing the problem solving around world issues, it is also highly valued by employers.

According to the Institute for International Education in 2016, 268,910 of the 1,785,452 US college students attended a study abroad program. That’s 15.1% of all students. Many students in the US hope to experience the world through these study abroad and many do. I have to tell you that I think these programs are the biggest rip off of all time. It’s yet another example of the problems associated with universities running like big business. In addition, some of the programs decrease the true impact international experiences can have. Let’s talk about a few examples.

global citizenshipThe University of Illinois (U of I) has many study abroad choices. One is with KU Leuven, in Belgium. Students attend classes at KU Leuven with KU Leuven students learning from KU Leuven professors.  Students doing this exchange can expect to pay over $15,000 for one, single semester!

Here’s the crazy thing- The tuition for an entire year for an international student is right around $1,425-as opposed to the $4,525 U of I charges for one semester of access to the same classes! U of I study abroad students pay just over $600 a month for housing that U of I arranges in a student residence with all the other American students. An international student can find easily find housing in student residences for $375 per month. Then, of course, there are the tremendous number of fees in addition to tuition at U of I (reduced, but still!) you will pay during your semester abroad. A full time international student at KU Leuven will pay less for his entire degree than an Illinois semester abroad student!

Some schools use a private study abroad provider. With many of these, students live a fairly self-contained existence and take classes through the provider, not even on the campus of a university. It reminds me a bit of a cruise and experiencing the semester as a tourist as opposed to a visiting student. There is a reputable provider who offers a semester in Copenhagen for $25,500.  For one semester!  That does include housing and some meals, but not transportation to and from the US. Let’s compare that to a student at Copenhagen Business School(CBS)-a prestigious school with triple crown international accreditation. Yearly tuition at CBS is right around $10,000 and rooms in student residences can be found for $400 per month.  Thus, you could be a full time student for two years with housing for what it would cost for one semester of study abroad.

For students who desire an international experience, I highly recommend exploring the 1,700+ English conducted full bachelors programs offered throughout continental Europe by becoming a member of Beyond the States. Not only are the financial benefits tremendous, but true immersion in another culture provides a path to global citizenship. Beyond the States offers a variety of ways to help students and their families navigate the European programs, admissions processes, housing and more with packages starting at just $89. 

European schools have a number of programs and policies in place to increase internationalization of their students-even if you are already an international student! Next week’s blog will piggy back on this week’s topic.  You see, European schools have a number of programs and policies in place to increase internationalization of their students.  We will look at the programs avaliable that enable students in Europe (even international students!) to study at school’s in more than one country (as a bachelor’s or master’s degree student) with no additional fees-and the possibility for a monthly stipend!

Study Abroad and the Secret of Direct Enrollment

I was speaking with the parent of a college student recently explaining the mission of Beyond the States, when she said, “Oh yes, [my college student] is going to do study abroad.” Study abroad programs, like many aspects of the US college experience, such as overpriced textbooks and crazy housing costs, tend to be unnecessarily expensive when compared with direct enrollment in a European school.

The extreme cost of these study abroad programs often stems from the fact that students generally must pay full tuition to their home school, even while they’re studying abroad. Additionally, US tuition is too high and continuing to increase. I guess someone has to pay to keep the lights on back on campus.

Let’s look at some examples:

$38,794 Georgetown’s Italian semester abroad program is at Villa Le Blaze. Villa Le Balze is georgetowns-fiesole-study-abroad-residence-italyGeorgetown’s study center in Florence. Until 1979, the villa was the property of the Marquesa Rockefeller, granddaughter of Nelson D. She donated it to Georgetown with the stipulation that it be used as a place of learning. The villa provides students with a unique study abroad experience that includes classes on site, a comprehensive academic program, intensive Italian language classes, and ample time to travel throughout Italy. Georgetown estimates tuition, room and board to be $33,894 plus another $4,900 for personal expenses such as travel and books for a grand total of $38,794 for a single semester. That’s nuts!

Compare: The average cost of all the Italian programs in the Beyond the States database is $3,250 per semester, which means you could get a 4-year degree in Italy for the cost of a semester in the Georgetown program, but I’m sure their villa is quite nice.

Hamburg UAS study abroad $24,014 (Out of State/$12,889 In State) According to the UW study abroad site, University of Wisconsin’s Engineering School offers a semester abroad at Hamburg University of Applied Sciences in Germany. HAUS is a large university that specializes in engineering, IT, renewable energy, and life sciences. UW Study Abroad notes 4th semester German is required.

Contrast: Hamburg University of Applied Sciences, like all German public universities of applied sciences charges zero tuition to international students. It even has an IT engineering degree program entirely taught in English.

$23,464 Dartmouth’s Foreign Study program in Greece is “…loosely based in Athens, consists for the marathon study abroadmost part of extensive field trips…to various parts of the ancient Greek world including Crete and the Aegean islands”, which is to say, student stay in hotels and ride from historic site to historic site in a bus. Enrollment is limited to 15 students for the quarter. Dartmouth is on a quarter system, so this is 1/3 of the year’s costs.

Compare: The average tuition cost per semester of the English-taught programs in Greece is $4,694, which would leave a lot leftover for sightseeing.

                        Why Study Abroad for Just One Semester?

Instead of making study abroad the highlight of your college experience, why not make it the center? US students can enroll directly as international students in Europe. Going to college in Europe is less expensive, you can finish a year sooner and you’ll have great travel opportunities. At Beyond the States, we’ve researched these schools and programs for you.

 Other Benefits:

Finish Sooner: Most of the programs in Europe are designed to be finished in 3 years. The difference is that there are fewer general education requirements than in the US.

Gain Perspective: When you’re an international student at a European university, you’ll be in classes with students from many other countries, rather than being in classes with only Americans as in many US study abroad programs.

Study Abroad in the US at Low European Tuition When you go to college in Europe, you have the option of studying abroad. That could back in the US or elsewhere. Some schools, like France’s Sciences Po, even require a study abroad year. As a study abroad student, you’d pay the lower European tuition.

Control Your Own Destiny: Most study abroad programs at US schools are governed by restrictions around grades, program sponsors and arrangements the schools have with their international partners. These may not be apparent to students when selecting their US college and they may also change during the student’s tenure. When you’re a direct student, you’re in the driver’s seat and there are no middle-men to satisfy.

Choice: At Beyond the States, we’ve built a database with over 1,500 English-taught programs, many more than the US schools have in their study abroad systems.

About Beyond the States

You’ve decided to go to college overseas. Or maybe you’re just checking out your options. Either way, you need a trusted advisor to help you understand how to get from here to there. That’s where Beyond the States comes in. We help students and parents find the right college for them outside the US. For more information, contact us at info@beyondthestates.com