Researching your placement

The following is a guide to researching your Study Abroad placement whether it be for one semester or a full year in length.  This guide is intended to provide an overview of the Study Abroad application, allocation and assessment process from an institutional perspective and should be used as a reference guide for your own research.

Please refer to your College guidelines for information specific to your degree programme.

A PDF of the following information can be found here: Researching your placement handbook - 2019/20

The term 'Study Abroad' in this guide can be understood to include the following activities:

  • A year of study at a partner higher education institution outside the UK (credit bearing)
  • A semester of study at a partner higher education institution outside the UK (credit bearing)

Not included within this guide are the following activities:

  • Participation in summer schools or other short-term study sessions provided (usually by a higher education institution) outside the UK (not usually credit bearing)
  • A year or semester or work at an employer outside the UK (credit bearing)

 

There are many factors to consider when thinking about your choice of host institution.  Just as you did when you decided to apply to Exeter you should think carefully about what kind of university might suit you, what you want to study and how it gives you some new options or adds value to your academic CV.

What kind of lifestyle suits you?  How do you learn best?  How does your placement abroad fit into your plan for life after university?  How much do you want to challenge yourself culturally?  Remember that you need to give yourself every chance to succeed as well as gaining experience that makes you stand out from the crowd.

Be aware of preconceptions you might have.  College life in the USA may seem familiar from TV and films, and there is no apparent language barrier to contend with, but in fact North American culture can be vastly different from European culture, particularly university life.  Would you be happy with extremely long class hours and weekly assessments?  Finding cultural differences where you don’t expect them can be more disorientating than travelling somewhere where you might expect contrast.

Please bear in mind that the study experience and university culture can differ widely between, and within, different countries and institutions.  For example, in Copenhagen expect lots of group work and presentations and in Italy your exams may be oral, not written. 

Where is the university located?  Big cities may be attractive, however accommodation can be expensive and the university campus may not be centrally located.  Would you be happy to live independently some distance from your academic department, or do you enjoy the Exeter experience of a campus university?  A smaller town may offer a more authentic experience of local culture, and more opportunities to befriend local people.  What about sport and social opportunities?

Support systems also vary.  If you study with a partner in the USA or Australia you may find yourself on a campus with a highly developed support network for study abroad exchange students.  Closer to home at some universities in France or Spain you may be expected to manage your affairs as independently as a local student.

Finally, and most importantly, what will you be studying?  What module options will you have?  This is a chance to look at potential future career specialisms, subjects not offered at Exeter; or that your degree programme restricts you from trying, or even a completely different subject.  Usually the only restriction is that 75% of your course load should be related to your ‘core subject’ in the widest sense (please check with your College/discipline Study Abroad Coordinator).  You will not be allowed to take modules that you have already studied, or ones you will study in your fourth and final year here at Exeter.  One of the first things you should research should certainly be the course catalogue where you will be able to access information and guides as to what modules are available.

Special requirements or existing health concerns.  If you have a disability, already have an Individual Learning Plan and/or are likely to require particular support or special dispensation with your learning during your year abroad, it is your responsibility to contact your host university and inform them of any special provisions that you receive here at Exeter and see if there is any additional support that they can offer.

Please be aware that the level of support varies quite considerably across different countries and institutions, and there is no guarantee that your host university will be able to provide the same level of support you receive currently.

If there is any assistance that we here at Exeter can provide, please do let us know.  Equally you may wish to discuss your year abroad with AccessAbility: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/accessability/

If you are currently experiencing, or have in the past experienced mental health concerns we recommend you disclose this to us so we can advise and support you with your application.  Private one-to-one appointments can be booked with the Study Abroad team by emailing outbound@exeter.ac.uk.

Most of our host university websites have a section specific to incoming exchange students, but they may not be the easiest pages to find!  We recommend you search their sites for terms such as ‘Erasmus’, ‘Study Abroad’, ‘Exchange Students’ and ‘International Exchange’ to help find these pages.  Make sure you research this information thoroughly and look at any restrictions and pre-requisites that may be in place for each of your intended modules. 

You will typically be asked to build a study plan that comprises 75% of modules in your ‘core’ subject and 25% of your modules in a subject area of your choosing (assuming you meet the pre-requisites listed by the host university).  You will not be allowed to take modules that you have already studied, or ones you will study in your fourth and final year here at Exeter.  One of the first things you should research should certainly be the course catalogue where you will be able to access information and guides as to what modules are available.

This process can be a little frustrating but patience is key!  Subjects maybe listed differently on the host university website to how they are listed in Exeter, the course catalogue may not be easy to find on the university websites and you will most likely be researching modules from the current academic year not the year you will be studying abroad.  All of this is completely normal and is a small hurdle in the preparation of what will ultimately be a very fulfilling experience – hang in there!

The course-load you will be expected to take at your host university will vary by discipline so make sure you have referred to any guidance your discipline/College have provided you.  As a general guide across Europe under the Erasmus+ scheme 30 ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) is equal to 60 Exeter credits so if you are completely a full year placement your discipline is likely to expect you to take 60 ECTS (120 Exeter credits) across the two semesters.  Again check with your discipline as they may set you assignments which replace credits taken at the host university.

Remember to look closely at the language of instruction for the modules you would like to take at your host university (see Where can I study abroad? for a list of institutions and their language requirements). 

When researching your placement ensure the institution you wish to study at has enough modules taught in English to cover the duration of your placement with additional reserve modules (in case of timetable clashes or modules not running). 

If you intend to study in a language other than English, Exeter require you to have taken the Advanced 1(or higher) modules in that language through the Foreign Language Centre (FLC) in addition you must ensure you have the minimum required language competency as advertised by your host university for admission. 

If you are unsure of your language proficiency the Foreign Language Centre provide language tests for French, German, Italian, and Spanish: http://humanities.exeter.ac.uk/flc/undergraduate/correctlevel/.

In the event you are already fluent in the relevant language, you should contact your College Study Abroad Coordinator who will arrange with the FLC for your language ability to be assessed.  If the FLC can confirm to your Study Abroad co-ordinator that your language is at a level equivalent to Advanced 1 or higher, then you will be exempt from the requirement to study the FLC language modules.

To be eligible for Study Abroad you must attain a grade average of 60% or above in your first year.  Places are allocated competitively so the higher your grade average, the better chance you have of going to one of your favoured locations.  If your grade average is not high enough to secure one of your desired places, you will be invited to consider other locations.

Competition for places can be very strong, with many applications having very high grade average marks.  Consequently some specific locations may only be viable considerations for students who gain an average in the high 60s, this is likely to be particularly so (but not exclusively) for North America, Australia and New Zealand.

If a student on a four-year study abroad degree programme does not achieve the minimum 60% grade average to be eligible to study abroad they will be required to transfer back to the equivalent three-year degree programme.

If a student who has been allocated a placement based on their first year grade average goes on to achieve less than 60% in their second year they will be required to withdrawal their application to the host university.

Students on combined honours programmes are welcome to apply for a placement with either of their teaching Colleges.  Flexible Combined Honours (FCH) students can apply directly through the FCH programme or through the College of one of their subjects.  However, students must not submit more than one application i.e. they may not apply through both Colleges/FCH programme.

 

As indicated above competition for places at the most popular destinations can be incredibly high, as demand grows the grade averages which are awarded places at these institutions also grows.  Approximately 40% of students receive their first choice of institution but you should not assume that [X] grade average guarantees you a placement at [Y] destination. 

Each year we are asked if a particular grade average will mean a student is guaranteed a placement in, for example Canada, the answer is no we simply cannot and will not guarantee you a place at a particular institution or country until the allocation process has been completed. 

Approach your choices with a flexible and open mind, diversify the institutions you list on your application and be amiable to a wide range of possible destinations for your time abroad.

The University requires that all mitigation applications must be made at or before the point of assessment.  Therefore it is not possible for late mitigation applications to be considered as part of the study abroad application or allocation process.

However, it is acknowledged that on some occasions a student may have submitted a timely, valid, evidenced mitigation application relating to their performance in first-year assessments, and this was accepted by their College’s mitigation committee, but no action was deemed appropriate due to the formative nature of stage one.

If a student in this situation is very close to the minimum criteria for making an application (i.e. their average is 58.00 or higher), then they should ask the Chair of the College’s mitigation committee (or other appropriate representative) whether they are supportive of the student being considered eligible to apply for a study abroad placement, on the basis of the existing mitigation application and evidence.  If they are, then the Chair of the Mitigation Committee (or representative) should confirm this in writing to the Study Abroad Coordinator in the students’ College.

It is essential that this is done in advance of the deadline for applications for placements, as these requests cannot be considered after the allocation process has begun.  If possible, it is recommended that students inform the Mitigation Committee in their mitigation application of their desire to apply for study abroad the following year.

Any consideration of mitigation would only relate to the students’ eligibility for a study abroad placement, not their priority in the allocation process.  Priority for a place cannot be given on the basis of mitigation of one student over another student with higher proven marks.  The students’ final approved marks (as confirmed by the College Assessment, Progression and Awarding Committee) will be used for determining priority for placements.

Studies affected by circumstances beyond your control: returning home.  Should you need to return home early from your placement, you cannot enter your third year of study at Exeter unless you return by the start of the academic year in time for the first week of term at Exeter campuses.  If you do need to return, then you must first discuss it with your host university and with the Outbound Study Abroad team.  We will all do our best to support you through the initial stages of your placement abroad and are sympathetic to homesickness and culture shock.  However we do expect students to have patience with themselves and the experience and to allocate sufficient time (several weeks) to settle in.

If you return later than the first week of the new academic year at Exeter, you will be required to interrupt your studies for a year. 

Repatriation.  In extremely rare circumstances it may be necessary to repatriate students, for example if there is a significant change to your living arrangements, studies or level of personal safety due to external events (e.g. a natural disaster).  The University will base its advice in such situations on Foreign Office travel advice (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) and information from the partner institution.  Students should also consult their own insurers for advice and to ensure that coverage still applies.  While the decision to return home in such circumstances is a personal one, the University will decide on a case-by-case basis if mitigating circumstances can be applied, or if alternative assessments will be required.  This will be communicated promptly.  Students should not assume that mitigating circumstances will be applied and are expected to complete their studies unless otherwise notified.

A successful study abroad experience, where you can access the same level of learning that you do at home will depend largely on making preparations and planning ahead so that your disability-related support needs can be met whilst you are abroad.

Seeking support

The information that follows may benefit all students.  Considering these issues and proactive planning will help to ensure a successful time abroad.  For those with a specific disability or health issue it is recommended that you talk to the following people before you make a decision or application about where you study abroad.

AccessAbility

If you haven't already registered with AccessAbility and set up an Individual Learning Plan it is highly recommended that you do so.  You will be able to meet an adviser, discuss and confirm support and AccessAbility can liaise with your department and support service abroad where appropriate.

Study Abroad Coordinator in your College

If you decide to tell your study abroad coordinator at Exeter or at the host University about your issues you may want to discuss how information will be kept confidential, what procedures are in place if information needs to be shared, and what if any information will be shared with the partner institution?

You may wish to discuss your preferences or any arrangements you have in place should you become unwell whilst abroad.  Some people may choose to write an advanced directive - a document that states your personal preferences in a crisis situation.

If you choose not to disclose then it may be helpful to consider if you wish to discuss in more general terms what will happen or any contingency plans or wishes should a crisis occur re. physical health.  Write down your preferences or plans and give them to somebody that you will have contact with whilst abroad e.g. a close family member or friends.

Your health care provider/GP

It is recommended that you inform your health care provider/GP of your plan to study abroad and to discuss your specific disability/health and support needs including medication and strategies for managing your health whilst away from home and in another country.

Specific issues to consider

Support Services

The more you can prepare and find out in advance and the better your support networks are the easier it may feel to settle in.  Here are some ideas about the kinds of questions or issues that you might like to take into account before you go:

  • Consider the support services you have in place in the UK; what support service do you need abroad?
  • Are there any support networks available to you overseas?
  • Are the same support services available to you in the UK available in the country where you might go to study?
  • If not, what support can you access or put in place that will enable you to get your support needs met?
  • Can you manage without the usual support networks?
  • What strategies can you put in place?

Health and medical services

Consider the medical and health services and needs that you have.

  • What services are available in relation to health whilst abroad?
  • Are they the same as the ones at home?
  • If not then what kind or health service can you get?
  • How will you access it?
  • Will your health insurance cover costs of medical treatment, medication, therapy or other health related needs?
  • What specifically will your insurance cover (e.g. only emergency appointments)?
  • If you make a claim on your insurance, how do you recover the money?
  • Do you have to pay for treatment up front?
  • Will you be able to obtain the same medication abroad?
  • How do you get a prescription?
  • Are there any services which speak your language at your study placement?
  • If you want to see your GP at home (when you visit home) how will you access them?
  • Can you make appointments in advance e.g. during holiday times to see your doctor at home?
  • Can you call your GP from abroad?
  • How would this be arranged?
  • How will you get repeat prescriptions whilst on your placement?
  • You may want to think about learning any terminology used to describe your disability/health condition or medication you may require (prior to going abroad) in the country you will be studying.
  • You may want to consider taking a translated letter or medical report that describes your disability/condition and health needs
  • Who could you ask to provide such a letter or report?
  • Are there any health services available in your first language whilst on your placement?
  • If not will there be someone to translate?
  • What about your emotional support needs?  How can these be met e.g. is there any counselling on offer?

Medication

Consider any needs you may have in relation to medication.

  • You need to check if your medication is available abroad and who could prescribe it - your home GP or a GP in the country where you are going?
  • You may need to consult your doctor about the availability of medication abroad or you might want to consider taking enough with you.
  • Do you need a letter for customs regarding any medications you may be carrying back and forth?
  • If the same medication is not available you may need to consider changing your prescription before you go, giving yourself enough time to ensure it is effective and your condition is stable before travelling.
  • Will there be a pharmacy where you can obtain your medication close to where you are living?
  • What happens if you run out of medication or if your medication needs to be changed?
  • How will you pay for medication abroad and what is the cost?
  • Check that there aren't any other medications that you may need to take whilst away e.g. malaria pills that could interfere with your current medication and if so ask you doctor about managing this.  Again leave plenty of time to arrange this.

Accommodation and travel

Consider any needs that you might have in relation to accommodation and travel.

  • Do you have any specific needs regarding accommodation?
  • What are your support needs (if any) in relation to accommodation?
  • Doe the host university provide accommodation?
  • If so what do you need to do to arrange it and what are the deadlines by which you need to apply for it?
  • How will you go about arranging accommodation if it is not available through the university?
  • Will transport be as available and accessible as at home?

Legal issues

Consider if there are any legal issues you need to clarify.

  • What is the policy for staff at your host university regarding confidentiality about your disability?
  • Will specific information regarding your disability be shared only on a 'need-to-know' basis or when it's strictly medically necessary?
  • Who will be able to access your disability information and why?
  • What privacy protections apply abroad?

Academic differences

Consider any needs you may have in relation to your academic studies.

  • Is the physical environment (eg classroom setting) different from what you are used to at home? Eg crowded, noisy, accessible, hearing looped.
  • If so how will you cope with this? What, if anything can your host university do to support you?
  • Are assessments and coursework going to be different and if so in what way? Eg lots of presentations when this is an area you find difficult.
  • How will you prepare for or cope with these differences?
  • Are there general cultural differences that you should be aware of that may impact your disability/condition?
  • How do you go about setting up exams provision?

Support networks

Consider your needs in relation to gaining access to or establishing support networks. Maintaining sources of support will be vital, particularly in the initial stages of your time abroad. It is vital to think about your sources of support in advance, even if you think you won't need it. Most people going to a new country will experience some feelings of stress and isolation.

It may be helpful to contact peers who are already abroad or have now returned and might be able to provide you with information and insights into your time abroad/the place you would like to study. They may also be able to give you insight into cultural differences, available services/support groups locally, and advice to help you prepare for what to expect overseas.

Think about your support structures at home and abroad.  

  • Who are the people you can contact?
  • How will you contact them and stay in touch?
  • Will you have access to a phone and/or email?
  • Will you be able to use your mobile phone abroad?
  • Who can you contact in an emergency?
  • Who can you rely on for support?
  • Who can you talk to if you are worried?
  • Who can you contact in a crisis?
  • Is there any other support you might like and how might you get this?

Students who were accepted onto a ‘with Study Abroad’ (or equivalent i.e. ‘with European Study’) degree programme at point of entry (i.e. they applied for a ‘with Study Abroad’ programme via UCAS) and have met the minimum 60% eligibility grade average in year one will be allocated placements in the first instance.  Students who are not on a ‘with Study Abroad’ or equivalent programme but who wish to study abroad are welcome (and encouraged) to make an application.  Students not on a ‘with Study Abroad’ programme will also need to meet the minimum 60% eligibility grade average in year one and will be placed on a reserve list.  Those students on the reserve list will be allocated a placement once point of entry students have been allocated.[1]

To apply students must complete an online application form found on the Study Abroad Office website: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/international/studyabroad/abroad/howtoapply/applicationform/.  This form will ask you to list eight choices from our partner universities.  When it is not possible to allocate a student to any of their eight choices, we would usually contact them to offer any remaining available places.

Submissions are restricted to one per student.

If a student has left one or more of their choices blank, it will be taken to mean that they do not wish to go abroad if they are unable to receive one of their higher choices.  This will not raise the priority for their other choices.

Although we will make every effort to provide a placement for any eligible students wishing to go abroad we cannot guarantee a placement.

The application form also requires students to list the modules that they would want to take at each institution.  These module selections will not be passed on to the partner university, but are required to demonstrate that the student has researched the available classes at the host university, and that suitable teaching exists for their discipline and personal interest.

Once all the applications have been received, places will be allocated with priority going to those with the highest first-year grade average.

It is not normally possible to take any mitigation or other factors into account when comparing applications for placements (please see Mitigation section on page 7 for more information).

Students should be aware that many of our partner institutions are shared by more than one College/discipline.  Places at institutions shared by different Colleges are ring fenced per discipline based upon a number of factors including but not limited to: predicted number of students on ‘with Study Abroad’ programmes, and reciprocal exchange activity.  The number of places available to Exeter students at our exchange partners are negotiated on an annual basis, this means the number of places available per discipline will vary each academic year.  These negotiations take place during term one each academic year and partner institutions listed on our website and in the application form are advertised in good faith that there will be places available to students making an application.  On occasion we may not receive a place at an exchange institution and will therefore be unable to allocate a student to a placement listed. 

When one discipline does not fill all of its available places at an exchange partner that is shared by more than one College/discipline, the remaining places are redistributed to the other Colleges/disciplines that share the exchange partner.  The distribution of places amongst Colleges/disciplines occurs during the allocation process and is reflected in the placement you are offered.  It maximises the opportunity for all Exeter students to receive one of their top eight choices.

If a student on a ‘with Study Abroad’ programme does not apply for a placement or does not meet the application deadline, it will be assumed that they have decided not to go abroad, and they will be required to transfer back to the equivalent three-year degree programme.

Students who have successfully applied for a placement, but are not yet on the appropriate four-year degree programme will need to complete a change of programme form once they have been allocated and have accepted a placement.

Once placements have been allocated they are fixed and cannot be swapped with other students, nor can placements which have not been accepted be re-allocated to other students.



[1] Some discipline requirements may vary if you are unsure of how the allocation process works within your College/discipline please check with your Study Abroad Coordinator.

Once the allocation process has been completed you will be informed by email of the institution you have been assigned. 

You will be expected to respond to this email either accepting or declining your placement, allocations are final and there can be no swapping with friends or peers.  In accepting your offer you confirm that you agree to abide by the following conditions of offer:

  • I understand that acceptance into my proposed overseas programme is conditional upon formal offer and acceptance from the host institution
  • I understand that I am required to maintain the satisfactory academic standards set by the University of Exeter and/or the host university prior to my departure for the programme (see Year 2 Grade Average)
  • I confirm that I have fully researched my host institution and host country
  • I understand that should there be any exceptional issues arising which may prevent my participation in the programme, I will immediately contact the Study Abroad Team as well as contacting the host institution to advise them of my withdrawal

 You must maintain a good academic performance in your second year to be eligible to attend your Study Abroad placement.  Your host university will expect you to meet the high academic standards required of full-degree entrants and you are responsible for ensuring you meet these requirements. 

Please note that entry requirements may vary per host institution however these will not be below a 60% minimum and you must maintain a grade average of 60% or higher in your second year exams. 

If you do not meet the minimum grade average set by Exeter and/or your host university you will no longer be eligible to take up your Study Abroad placement and you will be responsible for any costs incurred in the preparation for your placement abroad.

Please refer to your College guidelines for information specific to your degree programme.

There are support services at both your Host University and here at the University of Exeter.  If you experience difficulties or issues during your year abroad, use your host university’s facilities, services and resources to try and solve these in the first instance.

If you are experiencing problems or issues that are not being resolved by your host university, or cannot be resolved by your host university, please let either your College/discipline Study Abroad Coordinator or the Outbound Study Abroad team know as soon as possible.  We will try and help you as much as possible.

Special requirements and existing health conditions.  If you have a disability, already have an Individual Learning Plan and/or are likely to require particular support or special dispensation with your learning during your year abroad, it is your responsibility to contact your host university and inform them of any special provisions that you receive here at Exeter and see if there is any additional support that they can offer.

Please be aware that the level of support varies quite considerably across different countries and institutions, and there is no guarantee that your host university will be able to provide the same level of support you receive currently.

If there is any assistance that we here at Exeter can provide, please do let us know.  Equally you may wish to discuss your year abroad with AccessAbility: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/accessability/

You must remember that you remain a student of the University of Exeter while you are on your placement abroad.  You must act in accordance with University regulations, and should appreciate that you are a representative of the University.  You must ensure that you do not do anything that might bring the University of Exeter into disrepute.

You must ensure that you follow all local laws, and that you follow the regulations and conventions of your host university.

You are expected to take all necessary steps to ensure that your safety and security, and that of fellow students, is not compromised.  You will be expected to keep abreast of local current events, and register for regular country updates from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice) or your national governments equivalent.

You are expected to take out adequate travel insurance for the duration of your placement abroad.  It is possible to join the University insurance scheme.  Details can be found at: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/cgr/insuranceauditandrisk/insurancepolicies/travel/undergraduatetravelinsurance/

 In addition you should do the following:

  • Register as a University of Exeter student at the start of the year
  • Regularly and frequently check your Exeter email address
  • Keep your contact, address and next-of-kin details up-to-date on iExeter
  • Respond to communications from the Study Abroad Team and/or your Study Abroad Coordinator
  • Respond to other communications regarding your study at Exeter, including those relating to student fees and module choice.

 International students on UK tier-four student visas should remember that the terms and requirements of this visa will still apply while you are on your placement abroad.  These students will receive regular contact from your College Office with the purpose of demonstrating that you continue to actively engage in your studies.  It is essential that you respond promptly to these, as failure to do so may lead to the cancellation of your visa.

 

Location
What is the climate like? Are there extremes of temperature, humidity, pollution, allergens such as pollen?
Look at Google Street View to get an idea of what the area looks like
What are the transport links like?
Research what leisure activities are available nearby such as sports or arts
Accomodation
Does the host university have student accommodation?
How much will it cost per month?
If there is limited student accommodation, what private accommodation is available?
What are the accommodation deadlines - make a note of these
Factor accommodation costs into your budget
Student accommodation can be limited and you may not be guaranteed a room in halls, where are the student communities around campus where you can rent private accommodation?
Are there specific accommodation requirements you have as a result of a disability or heath consideration?  Is your host university able to provide suitable accommodation?
Is so, how do you make these requests?
Finances and costs associated with studying or working abroad
Contact Student Finance to check if you are eligible to apply for a travel grant to support your placement
If you are in receipt of bursaries and additional funding check with the University of Exeter funding team (via SID) and Student Finance to clarify if you are eligible to the additional funding whilst abroad
Research the average cost of living at your host university and city - if it is more than you would pay in Exeter, will you have enough money for living costs as well as the additional travel costs involved with studying abroad?
Keep a record of your finances: how much money are you being offered through grants, how much personal money you have, what is the situation wiht your student loan etc
Check your UK bank account - is it free to draw money out abroad?  If not which bank offers the most competitive rate?
Warn your home bank that you're going away so they don't block your card once your abroad - not fun and a lot of hassle to fix!
Factor in additional costs such as book supplies, mobile phone bills, administration fees and photocopying
Talk to students who have returned from studying abroad and find out about their experience
Can you work part-time whilst on your placement? Does your visa restrict the number of hours you can work?
Budget for extra spending money for travelling and socialising
Research the air fare options available, sometimes an around th world ticket is cheaper than a direct return - is this an option available to you?
Student support and Accessability
Do you already have an Independent Learning Plan and/or are you likely to require particular support or special dispensation with your learning abroad, does the host university offer the support you require?
Consider the support services you have in place in the UK; what support service do you need abroad?
Are the same support services that are available to you in the UK available in the country where you will be studying?
If not, what support can you access or put in place that will enable you to get your support needs met?
Can you manage without the usual support networks?
If you anticipate periods of anxiety or mental health concerns during your placement it would be beneficial to compile a personal action plan to include coping strategies, support networks or friends and family as well as emergency contact details for your host university or employer and medical provision in country
Health and medical needs
Are you currently taking medication? If so speak to your GP to find out if the equivalent medication is available at your country of destination
If you medication is not available at your country of destination are you able to take a year's worth of medication into country with you?  (Check the FCO website, check with your GP and on the Embassy website of your country of destination as taking medication into country with you may impact your visa application.)
Will there be a pharmacy where you can obtain your medication close to where you are living?
How will you pay for medication abroad and what is the cost?
If you wear glasses or contacts take a spare pair and plenty of contact solution!
Write a checklist of places you want to visit and things you want to do when you get there so you can keep homesickness at bay
Insurance
Do you have adequate health/travel insurance?   You will need to inform the insurance company of any existing health conditions.
What medical treatment , medication, theraphy or other health related needs does your insurance/EHIC card cover? Does your insurance only cover emergency appointments, if so do you need to amend your policy?
If you make a claim on your insurance, how do you recover the money?
Do you have to pay for treatment upfront?
LGBTQ+
If you identify as LGBTQ+ we would recommend you research LGBTQ+ issues at your country of destination, for example (please note this is not an exhaustive list): homophobic violence, trans rights, gender recognition, and marriage laws.  In some countries such as the United States of America the law differs from state to state so do be aware of this when conducting your research.
Does your host university have an LGBTQ+ society?
Does the university have suitable support services available that you can self-refer to if required?
Travel
How will you travel to your study abroad placement?
Are there specific travel requirements/concerns you have as a result of your disability/conditions?
Have you checked baggage allowances?
Does your host university offer an airport pick up service?
Academic differences
Will the physical environment (e.g. classroom setting/office) be different from what you are used to at home?  For example; crowded, noisy, hearing loop availability etc
If so, how will you cope with this?  What, if anything can your host university do to support you?
Are assessments and coursework going to be different and if so in what way?  For example; lots of presentations when this is an area you find difficult.
How will you prepare for or cope with these differences?
Do you have an Individual Learning Plan at Exeter?  If so, does it need updating with Wellbeing Services/Accessability and do you need to take a copy to give to your host university?
Do you need to set up exam provision when abroad?  It may be helpful to take a copy of your ILP and/or medical evidence in order to get exam provision abroad.
If you require exam provision, what are the deadlines at the host university to set this up?  Make a note of these and make sure you abide by the processes in place to set this up.
Current affairs
Check out local and national news websites for the country you are visiting.
Logistics
Take note of important telephone numbers - this roughly translates as home and host universities, organisations (British Council, Erasmus, host university etc), your home GP, your banks' stolen cards line and insurance claims hotline.  Put these numbers in your phone.
Have a look and try to sort out a mobile phone/internet deal in your host country.
Make sure you carry your valuables on your person and not in your suitcase.
Label your luggage (old fashioned but worth it!) and check to see what you are allowed/not allowed to pack in your suitcase
Find out your luggage allowance - these vary from country to country and airline to airline
Make sure your passport is valid for the entirety of your placement plus an additional six months.  Simple, obvious, yet so easy to forget.  Remember that it can take months to process a passport so if you do need to renew it make sure you do this as early as you can!
Check online or with your local GP to see if you need to get any vaccinations
Photocopy all your important documents (credit/debit cards, birth certificate, driving license, passport, EHIC).  Make sure you keep one copy of each for yourself and one for your parents, we recommend emailing them to yourself along with a passport sized photo in case you lose your paper copy.
Research international calling card plans
Haver you completed and submitted your risk assessment?
Expense (not an exhaustive list, adapt as appropriate to your circumstances)Cost estimate
Visa fee  
Passport renewal  
Orietnation expenses (such as airport transfer)  
Vaccinations  
Airfare  
Entry and exit taxes (if applicable)  
Language course fees (if applicable)  
Meal plans (if applicable)  
Housing  
Insurance  
Books/photocopies and other class related materials  
Local communting/transportation  
Personal expenses (toiletries, phone, entertainment etc)  
Holiday/personal travel expenses  
Internet  
Social activities  
Bank account fees  
Contingency for emergencies  
Loans or debt you are responsible for paying during your placement  
Total 

 

Resource (not an exhaustive list, adapt as appropriate to your circumstances)Amount estimate
Famiuly contribution  
Summer earnings  
Savings  
Student Finance loan/grant  
Other bursaries  
Part time work when on placement  
Other resources  
Total 

It is your responsibility to find accommodation for the duration of your time abroad. Most exchange partners will provide you with full information on how to apply for university accommodation but you must ensure you follow their procedures and deadline dates.  

It is worth noting that at our exchange partners around the world (and similarly for inbound study abroad students to Exeter) student accommodation is limited and you should not assume that you will be allocated a room in halls at your host university.  We recommend that you research thoroughly the private accommodation options available to you as well as apply for student accommodation.  

It is very common for students to rent private accommodation and to secure this once they arrive in country rather than before.  It makes things easier if you go out early and book yourself in to a hostel or hotel while you look for your private accommodation, check the noticeboards and student forums at your host university to find flat shares and other accommodation options. Be sure to read the contract carefully, including the small print, and question anything you are unsure of. If you pay a deposit get a receipt and never sign a contract or pay any deposit or advance on rent before you have seen the property.

Speak to Exeter students who have returned from Study Abroad placements at your host institution chances are they will have some great hints and tips for you on how to find accommodation.  The Outbound Study Abroad team can help put you in touch with returning students.

If you identify as LGBTQ+ we would recommend you research LGBTQ+ issues at your country of destination, for example (please note that this is not an exhaustive list): homophobic violence, trans rights, gender recognition, and marriage laws.  In some countries the law differs from state to state, as in the United States of America so do be aware of this when conducting your research.

Check if the university you are interested in studying at has an LGBTQ+ society that you can join and/or does the university have suitable support services available that you can self-refer to if required?  

A successful study abroad experience, where you can access the same level of learning that you do at home will depend largely on making preparations and planning ahead so that your disability-related support needs can be met whilst you are abroad.

Seeking support

The information that follows may benefit all students.  Considering these issues and proactive planning will help to ensure a successful time abroad.  For those with a specific disability or health issue it is recommended that you talk to the following people before you make a decision or application about where you study abroad.

AccessAbility

If you haven't already registered with AccessAbility and set up an Individual Learning Plan it is highly recommended that you do so.  You will be able to meet an adviser, discuss and confirm support and AccessAbility can liaise with your department and support service abroad where appropriate.

Study Abroad Coordinator in your College

If you decide to tell your study abroad coordinator at Exeter or at the host University about your issues you may want to discuss how information will be kept confidential, what procedures are in place if information needs to be shared, and what if any information will be shared with the partner institution?

You may wish to discuss your preferences or any arrangements you have in place should you become unwell whilst abroad.  Some people may choose to write an advanced directive - a document that states your personal preferences in a crisis situation.

If you choose not to disclose then it may be helpful to consider if you wish to discuss in more general terms what will happen or any contingency plans or wishes should a crisis occur re. physical health.  Write down your preferences or plans and give them to somebody that you will have contact with whilst abroad e.g. a close family member or friends.

Your health care provider/GP

It is recommended that you inform your health care provider/GP of your plan to study abroad and to discuss your specific disability/health and support needs including medication and strategies for managing your health whilst away from home and in another country.

Specific issues to consider

Support Services

The more you can prepare and find out in advance and the better your support networks are the easier it may feel to settle in.  Here are some ideas about the kinds of questions or issues that you might like to take into account before you go:

  • Consider the support services you have in place in the UK; what support service do you need abroad?
  • Are there any support networks available to you overseas?
  • Are the same support services available to you in the UK available in the country where you might go to study?
  • If not, what support can you access or put in place that will enable you to get your support needs met?
  • Can you manage without the usual support networks?
  • What strategies can you put in place?

Health and medical services

Consider the medical and health services and needs that you have.

  • What services are available in relation to health whilst abroad?
  • Are they the same as the ones at home?
  • If not then what kind or health service can you get?
  • How will you access it?
  • Will your health insurance cover costs of medical treatment, medication, therapy or other health related needs?
  • What specifically will your insurance cover (e.g. only emergency appointments)?
  • If you make a claim on your insurance, how do you recover the money?
  • Do you have to pay for treatment up front?
  • Will you be able to obtain the same medication abroad?
  • How do you get a prescription?
  • Are there any services which speak your language at your study placement?
  • If you want to see your GP at home (when you visit home) how will you access them?
  • Can you make appointments in advance e.g. during holiday times to see your doctor at home?
  • Can you call your GP from abroad?
  • How would this be arranged?
  • How will you get repeat prescriptions whilst on your placement?
  • You may want to think about learning any terminology used to describe your disability/health condition or medication you may require (prior to going abroad) in the country you will be studying.
  • You may want to consider taking a translated letter or medical report that describes your disability/condition and health needs
  • Who could you ask to provide such a letter or report?
  • Are there any health services available in your first language whilst on your placement?
  • If not will there be someone to translate?
  • What about your emotional support needs?  How can these be met e.g. is there any counselling on offer?

Medication

Consider any needs you may have in relation to medication.

  • You need to check if your medication is available abroad and who could prescribe it - your home GP or a GP in the country where you are going?
  • You may need to consult your doctor about the availability of medication abroad or you might want to consider taking enough with you.
  • Do you need a letter for customs regarding any medications you may be carrying back and forth?
  • If the same medication is not available you may need to consider changing your prescription before you go, giving yourself enough time to ensure it is effective and your condition is stable before travelling.
  • Will there be a pharmacy where you can obtain your medication close to where you are living?
  • What happens if you run out of medication or if your medication needs to be changed?
  • How will you pay for medication abroad and what is the cost?
  • Check that there aren't any other medications that you may need to take whilst away e.g. malaria pills that could interfere with your current medication and if so ask you doctor about managing this.  Again leave plenty of time to arrange this.

Accommodation and travel

Consider any needs that you might have in relation to accommodation and travel.

  • Do you have any specific needs regarding accommodation?
  • What are your support needs (if any) in relation to accommodation?
  • Doe the host university provide accommodation?
  • If so what do you need to do to arrange it and what are the deadlines by which you need to apply for it?
  • How will you go about arranging accommodation if it is not available through the university?
  • Will transport be as available and accessible as at home?

Legal issues

Consider if there are any legal issues you need to clarify.

  • What is the policy for staff at your host university regarding confidentiality about your disability?
  • Will specific information regarding your disability be shared only on a 'need-to-know' basis or when it's strictly medically necessary?
  • Who will be able to access your disability information and why?
  • What privacy protections apply abroad?

Academic differences

Consider any needs you may have in relation to your academic studies.

  • Is the physical environment (eg classroom setting) different from what you are used to at home? Eg crowded, noisy, accessible, hearing looped.
  • If so how will you cope with this? What, if anything can your host university do to support you?
  • Are assessments and coursework going to be different and if so in what way? Eg lots of presentations when this is an area you find difficult.
  • How will you prepare for or cope with these differences?
  • Are there general cultural differences that you should be aware of that may impact your disability/condition?
  • How do you go about setting up exams provision?

Support networks

Consider your needs in relation to gaining access to or establishing support networks. Maintaining sources of support will be vital, particularly in the initial stages of your time abroad. It is vital to think about your sources of support in advance, even if you think you won't need it. Most people going to a new country will experience some feelings of stress and isolation.

It may be helpful to contact peers who are already abroad or have now returned and might be able to provide you with information and insights into your time abroad/the place you would like to study. They may also be able to give you insight into cultural differences, available services/support groups locally, and advice to help you prepare for what to expect overseas.

Think about your support structures at home and abroad.  

  • Who are the people you can contact?
  • How will you contact them and stay in touch?
  • Will you have access to a phone and/or email?
  • Will you be able to use your mobile phone abroad?
  • Who can you contact in an emergency?
  • Who can you rely on for support?
  • Who can you talk to if you are worried?
  • Who can you contact in a crisis?
  • Is there any other support you might like and how might you get this?

A risk assessment for your study placement needs to be completed and submitted prior to undertaking any international study placement.  If anything changes whilst you are on placement you must contact the Study Abroad team at outbound@exeter.ac.uk.

Please see guidance for completing the international risk assessment for study placements‌ before submitting your risk assessment.

If there is a serious issue with your placement, if you experience bulling or racism do not be afraid to raise it with your mentor or a representative at your host university.  In addition you can also contact the Outbound Study Abroad Team, a University of Exeter Harassment Adviser or you can also contact the Guild Advice Unit.

It is always better to try and resolve any issues of harassment and bullying informally if possible (although there may be some incidents which are so serious that it would not be appropriate to resolve things informally).  If possible go and talk to the person concerned, tell them that their behaviour is causing offence and ask them to stop.  Often speaking with the person about their behaviour can bring the situation to an end.  Sometimes people do not realise that their behaviour is upsetting and explaining this to them can be enough to make them rethink their actions.  It is best to approach the person at the earliest opportunity to prevent the behaviour escalating.

It may be helpful to have a note of incidents including times and dates so that you can give examples of the behaviour that may have caused offence.

If you will be studying outside of the European Union (including Turkey) you will almost certainly be required to obtain the appropriate visa or permit to allow you to study as an international student.  Please note that the Study Abroad team is not qualified to offer visa advice.  Below you will find links to the relevant embassies, these will form the basis of your visa research.  Please be aware that immigration legislation changes frequently and without warning, so please check the relevant embassy and immigration website for the most up to date information.

You should be aware that taking the necessary steps to acquire your visa is your own responsibility and you may incur costs for example: TB blood tests in order to obtain your visa.  

If your visa is refused you will be responsible for any costs incurred. 

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University of Exeter Study Abroad