The costs of studying abroad

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

You are one application away from a semester spent traversing Icelandic lagoons, walking in the footsteps of American presidents such as Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, or admiring Renaissance art in Padua. Only one obstacle stands in your way: the fear of not being able to afford a study abroad experience. Luckily for you, time overseas can be far more affordable than you may think.

First, consider the costs associated with studying abroad. Depending on the programme, you will pay tuition to St Andrews, your host institution, or both. You will also need to pay for your visa, accommodation, transport, health insurance, and general living fees such as food and books. The sum of these fees varies greatly by country. Some students pay more than they would at St Andrews while others save money due to a lower cost of living.

No one will speak English, and you will not understand the pricing, but it’s an adventure, and after a while you will get the hang of things.

Third year David Fuhrmann, who is currently studying economics and international relations in Hong Kong, said that some of his largest expenses are travel fees. The cost of a round-trip ticket from the UK to Hong Kong is around £400 to £500, and weekend trips around Asia add to this amount. To save on travel, Mr Fuhrmann suggested using a mobile app called Hopper, which advises you when flight prices are cheapest.

He also shared a trick for saving money on food. Grocery stores in Hong Kong are very expensive, so Mr Fuhrmann shops at the “wet markets” frequented by locals.

He explained: “No one will speak English, and you will not understand the pricing, but it’s an adventure, and after a while you will get the hang of things. And it’s cheaper.”

Overall, Mr Fuhrmann aims to spend about £10 per day. This includes eating out for lunch and dinner (standard lunch fare is around £2 to £4, while the cost of dinner maxes out at £6), as well as snacks and groceries for breakfast. In addition to saving on food, Mr Fuhrmann has saved a significant amount on accommodation. He lives in halls, which cost around £850 to £1,000 per semester. Comparatively, a shared room in St Andrews standard catered residences costs £2,862 per semester.

Katie White, a fourth-year modern history and French student who studied abroad in Toulouse, found that basic living costs were cheaper abroad. She paid about £315 in rent each month and saved money on food and public transport.Fourth year Andrew Williams, who spent his third year studying Russian in Moscow and Kazan, also benefited from cheaper accommodation. His monthly fees, which included breakfast, added up to about £230 in Moscow. He paid a similar price in Kazan, although his accommodation costs there included all meals. Mr Williams found that day-to-day life was far cheaper abroad. For example, lunch deals were about £3, and pints were £2. Travel within the area was also relatively inexpensive, with a 12-hour train journey costing about £10 to £12. Once Mr Williams added in the cost of tuition, however, studying overseas still proved expensive.

“I found I spent more money on experiences, such as travelling around France, eating out, and getting the most out of the year,” Ms White explained.

Hong Kong
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

To save money on these experiences, Ms White took advantage of her
student status, which enabled her to find discounts on museum admission, gym memberships and more. Because Ms White was the recipient of an Erasmus+ grant, she didn’t find her time abroad overwhelmingly expensive. However, she advised those who are concerned about money to start saving the summer before going abroad.

Ms White said: “Saying yes to all the new experiences is the best part of your year abroad. Students looking to study in America might have a different experience, but my friends and I didn’t have to worry about money that much. […] Above all, don’t worry too much about money. Try to save a bit so that you have a buffer for spontaneous trips and fun plans.”

Mr Fuhrmann and Mr Williams also shared money-saving tips, and their advice was surprisingly similar. Both suggested connecting with locals, who know the cheapest places to eat and visit nearby. If you would like to experience Russia, France, Hong Kong, or any of the other study abroad locations connected with St Andrews, don’t let financial worries stand in your way.

The University offers a variety of scholarships and financial aid to help meet student need. The Erasmus+ grant awards scholars up to €300 per month, plus an additional €100 per month for those coming from a disadvantaged background. Individual institutions such as the American University of Pennsylvania and the Canadian Queen’s University also offer generous scholarships.

In the 2017-2018 academic year, science students can take advantage of the newly launched Moncrieff Travelling Scholarship. Successful applicants are awarded between £500 and £12,000 depending on their study abroad programme. These offerings are several of many offered by the University.

For more information on financial support for study abroad endeavours, visit the Collaborations and Study Abroad Office’s webpage or contact Money Adviser Joyce Lapeyre at

(The Saint, 10 November 2016)

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