Why do posgrad study abroad?

More and more British students are choosing to spend a period of postgrad study abroad. Here are six reasons to do a Master's degree abroad.

1. Doing a postgrad degree abroad boosts a graduate's employability

Choosing a graduate school these days is often a question of evaluating the “value for money” of the Master's degree. Many students perceive that doing a Master's degree abroad will make them more employable.

It's not as simple as saying that a Master's degree from abroad will make you more employable than a degree from a British university. What does make a difference is that if you choose to spend some time abroad you will become a different person, and that person may be more employable.

If you do your postgrad study in another country you are likely to be facing different challenges. You will meet people with different values and different points of view. In order to be happy in such an environment you will probably need to become more adaptable and flexible in your approach to different situations.

Employers increasingly value graduates who have lived abroad and developed intercultural skills. There are plenty of international students who have these skills and British students need them in order to compete for "British" jobs!

2. Study abroad = explore the world, make new friends, and have the experience of a lifetime!

The next reason is the most important attribute you need if you are to make a success of going abroad. Even if everyone's employment prospects could be enhanced by time abroad it would still be the wrong choice for many people.

From all the interviews we have done with students who have gone abroad, they all have one thing in common: a sense of adventure.

One of our students said:

I knew from a young age that travelling abroad and meeting people from different cultures excited and interested me.

If you can imagine yourself saying something like this then studying for your Master's abroad could be the ideal opportunity for you. If not, then do something else.

We have lots of evidence to show that students who do go abroad tend to look at it as being one of the best decisions they ever made. We also have evidence to show that those students who don't take advantage of the opportunity may later have cause to regret it.

3. Learning a language alongside a Master's degree

The next reason why you should think about going abroad is one that tends to divide British audiences - the importance of learning languages.

On first glance, this might seem a little strange, particularly as all the courses listed on this site are available in English. We believe that this creates a fantastic opportunity that is not necessarily available to those who don't speak English as a first language; you can choose to study anywhere you want and pick up the local language while you are there.

Learning a language will certainly improve your understanding of the world around you and probably also your career prospects.

More and more employers are asking for students who can speak an additional language because it demonstrates an ability to communicate with others.

Many of you may not think you are capable of learning another language but it can be done. The best way to learn a language is to go to the country where it is spoken, of course.

4. What is the best postgraduate university for my subject?

One of the questions students ask when investigating their options is “What is the best university for my subject?”

When you are trying to answer that, don’t restrict yourself to British universities because the best place for you might be somewhere else.

However, it is also true that for some subjects you may very well be better studying in the UK because the curriculum could be different. The clearest example of this would be something like law, where if you go abroad you won’t be studying English law. However, particularly at postgraduate level it will be the specialisms you develop that will determine how successful you will become.

5. What is the best way to study...?

Even if you think you have found the perfect postgrad course, the learning environment may not suit you. Universities abroad can offer you many alternatives to the British model of studying.

Look very closely at the learning style and classroom environment at your choice of postgraduate university. Will you be sitting in lectures all week with hundreds of other students? Will you have small classes and lots of interaction with your lecturers? There is a wide range of ways to learn and inevitably, some will suit you better than others.

Finally you need to consider how you will be assessed during your Master's degree. Will you have regular exams throughout the three-four years of your Master's degree or will you be assessed more on the basis of written work, group presentations and other forms of assessment?

While many postgraduate degrees while have a strong emphasis on independent study utilising your existing research skills, the expectations on British students abroad may very well be different to what they are used to at domestic universities. You will not only be making the transition from undergraduate to postgraduate study but also from one education system to another.

No one-way of learning is best for everyone. You need to decide for yourself which is the best way for you.

6. Low postgraduate tuition fees

Can you save money by studying abroad?

To be honest, this is one of the major reasons we have launched this site. It has certainly determined the shape and size of the database of courses we have included. We know that one of the biggest problems for British students wanting to pursue a Master's degree is the challenge of how to pay for it. While there will be changes to postgrad funding in the United Kingdom in 2016/17, we firmly believe that going abroad could be the right step for you.

Elsewhere in this site you will find information about different funding regimes throughout Europe and examples of universities with generous scholarships on offer. We also outline some of the new, European funding programmes such as Erasmus+ Master's Loans that should become more useful to you in the future.

The one thing we can say for certain is that if you go abroad for your postgraduate education, Student Finance England will not be helping you out. You will need to answer the question of "how do I pay for my degree?" individually. The good news is that there is often more help abroad than there is in the United Kingdom.