The decision to study or work abroad is an important decision. Not only is it a process of self-discovery, but the international element that it will add to your degree and career will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Going abroad to study or work is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity - it is also an investment in your future. Like all investments, it is important to plan ahead with as much information as possible. We are here to help you understand your options and prepare. The Erasmus+ Programme also offers generous funding for you to study or work abroad.
One of the significant advantages of the Erasmus+ Programme is the financial assistance it may give you to study or work abroad. If you are selected for the programme, you may be eligible for a grant to help towards the additional costs of going on an exchange. It’s important to note that this is a grant towards your costs: it will not cover them entirely!
The UK will participate fully in the Erasmus+ Programme during the 2020/2021 year. Bilateral agreements signed under the Erasmus+ Programme will remain valid through the 2021/22 academic year and allow mobility to those destinations to continue in 2021/22.
However, Erasmus+ grant funding will not be available for students applying for the first time in 2020/21 for a 2021/22 mobility period.
The current policy as communicated to all UK institutions by the British Council is that a virtual/online placement is not currently an eligible activity to receive funding through the Erasmus+ Programme. The rationale of this policy is that the Erasmus+ grant is intended to cover costs that arise due to a physical mobility: travelling to/from and being abroad in the host destination, which are no longer the case for virtual/online learning. A student completing an Erasmus+ placement virtually still has the right to Erasmus+ student status, however, the would be classified as 'zero-grant'. Any student considering or planning for a virtual exchange should bear this in mind.
Erasmus+ grant rates
The Erasmus+ grant varies from year to year and it depends on where you are studying/working. Please note that the rates below are for the 2020/2021 academic year:
1. Group 1 countries – High cost of living (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Sweden, Liechtenstein, Norway)
- Study placement: EUR 420 per month
- Traineeship: EUR 520 per month
2. Group 2 countries – Medium cost of living (Austria, Belgium, Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Spain, Cyprus, Netherlands, Malta, Portugal)
- Study placement: EUR 370 per month
- Traineeship: EUR 470 per month
3. Group 3 countries - Low cost of living (Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Turkey)
- Study placement: EUR 370 per month
- Traineeship: 470 per month
Before you go on your placement, you will have to submit two important documents to secure your mobility grant funding, in addition to a BACS form for Finance and a Risk Assessment Form:
1. Your Erasmus+ Grant Agreement
Before you go on your placement, you will have to sign a grant agreement with Queen Mary, formally accepting the mobility grant and acknowledging the obligations you enter into when you accept the grant. This agreement will be issued by Queen Mary's Erasmus+ Institutional Coordinator.
2. Your Learning Agreement
You also need to submit your Learning Agreement (which is linked to your grant agreement) before you begin your placement. This agreement must be approved and signed by all three parties prior to submission (yourself, the host institution and your School/Department Coordinator).
If you don’t submit these documents before you start your placement, you won’t be eligible for funding. These are the funding rules of the European Commission.
How the mobility grant is calculated
The grant is calculated from the first day you have to attend your place of study or traineeship, including any induction days etc. The end date is the last date you need to be present at your placement. You may receive a grant for a part or the entire duration of your stay.
Payment of the grant
The Erasmus+ grant will be paid in Sterling and into your UK bank account. You have to be the account holder; the grant can’t be paid into another person’s account.
The grant is paid in two installments. Should you received a grant:
- You will receive the first instalment, which is 80 per cent of your total grant, at the start of your Erasmus+ period (but only if and after you have completed the required documentation); and
- You will receive the second instalment (which will be approximately the final 20 per cent/remaining portion of your total grant) after the end of your Erasmus+ period and only upon receipt of the remaining contractual documents requiring completion/submission.
If you are a student in receipt of certain types of student loans or eligible for a full grant or loan, a supplementary grant amount, or top-up grant, may be available to help you fund your Erasmus+ period. This is available to eligible undergraduate Home/EU students only (provided they are means tested by Student Finance England), with household annual incomes of £25,000 or less.
You don’t have to apply for this grant; we will let you know if you are eligible for it.
Swiss European Mobility grant
Swiss-European Mobility Programme (SEMP) funding availability for the 2021/22 academic year remains unconfirmed. Updates will be published here as and when these become available.
The Swiss European Mobility Programme (SEMP) is similar to Erasmus+ in that it offers funding to students to study at a Swiss partner university for between 3 and 12 months. SEMP funding for students going to Switzerland is administered by the host university and not by Queen Mary.
As Queen Mary does not administer the SEMP grant, you should check with the partner university for full details about the SEMP grant, including how much you'll receive, when you should expect to receive it, and how to apply.
Please note that the SEMP grant is paid as flat rate amount, independent of the exact duration of your stay. For example, if you are going on a single semester exchange you will receive funding for five months, and a full year exchange for 10 months. The grant could be CHF 1,900.00 per semester, but please check with the respective Swiss partner.
You can find also find general information about the Swiss European Mobility Programme from Movetia, the Swiss National Agency for Exchange and Mobility.
Queen Mary tuition fees
If you are going abroad for one optional semester, you are responsible for paying full tuition fees to Queen Mary for the year during which you are abroad (with minimum 10 weeks of that year spent at Queen Mary).
If you are spending the full academic year abroad, you pay a reduced tuition fee to Queen Mary for that year. Find out more about tuition fees on Queen Mary’s Student Funding and Finance page.
Queen Mary tuition fees in 2020/21 for both full-year study abroad and full-year traineeship abroad (or combination) are:
- Home/EU student: £1385 (15% of tuition fees)
- Overseas student: 50% of tuition fees
Tuition fees at your host institution (study placements)
You will not have to pay any university tuition fees (or fees for registration, examination, laboratory or library access facilities, etc) to your host institution, whether you study abroad on exchange for one semester or the full year.
However, you may be charged small fees for costs such as insurance, student union membership or the use of materials (such as photocopying, laboratory supplies etc) on the same basis as local students.
Student loans and grants
Tuition and maintenance loans
If you are a Home/EU student receiving a student loan (e.g. Student Finance England), you should contact them directly to enquire about how studying abroad will affect the amount/s you receive from them. You should make it clear to them that your placement abroad will be an integral part of your Queen Mary degree programme. It is recommended you do this in advance of submitting your application to go abroad to the Global Opportunities Office so that you are fully informed about your financial resources when applying.
Please note that there is a special overseas rate for your Maintenance Loan (it is capped at a lower amount, so you will not be eligible for the same amount as you would be in London). Please check with Student Finance for more details.
If you receive and accept a Conditional offer to study abroad (typically you receive this late February/early March), once you declare this placement abroad to Student Finance by applying through your online account (check the deadlines carefully), you should be sent a Course Abroad Form by Student Finance directly (this is the case for Student Finance England; students from Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales should consult their relevant loan providers).
Before you're scheduled to go abroad, take this Course Abroad Form to the Global Opportunities Office to be completed, who will complete and include the official dates of your mobility period. Once completed and signed, you should scan a copy of this form for your records and then need to send it to the address indicated by Student Finance so that they can process your application.
The timing of when you should complete this as well as the deadline to submit to submit to Student Finance will depend on your degree programme; this could be anytime between March and mid-summer (if you have to wait until your academic results are published in July to know if you may progress onto your next year). Providing you apply to Student Finance on time (typically by the end of June but check with Student Finance directly), you should automatically receive your first Student Finance loan instalment 25 working days before the start of the Queen Mary academic year. Submitting the form late could delay the payment of your instalment/s.
The second and third instalments of your Student Finance will be paid at the start of Queen Mary's Semester 2 and the exam period. Queen Mary can ask SFE to bring forward the first instalment of your Student Finance loan if you are required to travel abroad to start your study more than 25 working days before the start of the Queen Mary academic year (referred to as 'course start date'), yet this is unlikely for most European destinations.
If your personal circumstances or timing of your placement abroad compel you to request special payment arrangements, only Queen Mary will be able to request this on your behalf directly with Student Finance. For any such request, please contact the Student Enquiry Centre if you need advice about this: send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, call +44 20 7882 5079 or visit the SEC in person (ground floor of the Queens’ Building).
You should consult your eligibility for additional funding from Student Finance for your upcoming period abroad (e.g. Travel Grants, cost of medical insurance or compulsory medical, cost of visa for host country). Please see the Travel Grant section for more details.
Bursaries and scholarships
If you are eligible to receive a Queen Mary Bursary, you can receive this during your study abroad year, as long as you continue to be eligible for income-assessed Student Finance.
Your Erasmus+ mobility period abroad should not affect any scholarships or bursaries you hold, but it is always worth checking this with the Erasmus+ Institutional Coordinator.
Other national grants and loans and the Erasmus+ Programme
Your entitlement to any national grants or loans for your study at Queen Mary must be maintained during your Erasmus+ mobility period abroad. You must not discontinue, interrupt, or reduce your entitlement while you are on your placement and receiving your Erasmus+ grant. The Erasmus+ grant is not incompatible with receiving national grants or loans, however, before going abroad, you should check with any of your funding bodies that your exchange abroad and receiving an Erasmus+ grant for this does not affect their contribution. As with Student Finance, you should make it clear to them that your exchange abroad will be an integral part of your Queen Mary degree programme.
The cost of living varies considerably across Europe, not only from country to country but also from one city to another. In many countries, living costs are lower than in the UK, while some may be more expensive (e.g. Copenhagen, Denmark). It is important to understand how not only your expenses but also your income will change during your period abroad, as this will make your budget while abroad different from your budget as a student in London.
As advised in the annual series of "GO Abroad: Get Ready To Apply" Workshops delivered by the GO Office, you are strongly encouraged to complete a budgeting spreadsheet for your period abroad with the help of Advice & Counselling Service. This form is available for download here; you are encouraged to complete this to make sure you can afford to study at your desired destination/s for your intended duration. Submitting a completed budgeting spreadsheet is also encouraged as a step in the Pre-departure process after you have been nominated to your forecasted host institution.
During your period abroad, you will need to pay for costs such as your accommodation, travel and general living costs. Remember that an Erasmus+/SEMP grant contributes towards but does not cover all your expenses during your period abroad.
The QS website will give you a rough guide to the cost of living in Europe as a student.
Your host institution’s website might also have some useful information on projected living costs and budgets.
If you receive a maintenance loan through Student Finance, please note that there is a special overseas rate for your Maintenance Loan (you will not be eligible for the same amount as you would be in London). Please check with Student Finance for more details. Do also consult the other sections on this webpage to better understand how your period abroad affects a student loan and for what other sources of income you may be eligible to apply for or receive.
Travel grant (Student Finance)
If you are a Home/EU student going on a placement abroad and have a loan through Student Finance, you should consult your eligibility for additional funding from Student Finance for your upcoming period abroad (e.g. travel grant, medical insurance, visa). You can apply for an income-assessed travel grant from Student Finance to cover reasonable travel costs to your host institution as your exchange is an integral part of your degree programme (i.e. buying the most cost-effective tickets for the cheapest form of transport). Please note that if your application is successful, the grant comes in the form of retroactive reimbursement of approved expenses; you do not receive money up front. Please also note that any travel grant funding received is compatible with an Erasmus+ grant.
- You can apply to be reimbursed for up to three return journeys from the UK to your host institution or workplace during a full academic year abroad;
- You cannot claim for the first £303 you spend; and
- You may also be able to claim for visa costs, medical insurance, and a mandatory medical.
How to apply
- To apply, you will need to visit one of the below links relevant for you if your Student Finance loan is through England, Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales.
- You will need to check your eligibility by completing the process online (your eligibility will be income-assessed); remember to declare that your placement abroad will be an integral part of your Queen Mary degree programme.
- If you are from England, Student Finance England (SFE) will normally first send you a Course Abroad Form, followed automatically by a Travel Grant form if you are deemed eligible. Students from Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales should consult the relevant process via the below links.
- You will be asked to provide evidence to support your travel expenses claims, showing proof of payment and confirmation of what you purchased, for example, an e-receipt for payment of flights, therefore you must retain all receipts.
- You should complete this process to apply for a travel grant as soon as possible once you have purchased your outbound airfare to know for which other costs you are eligible to claim reimbursement, yet you can do so at any time during the academic year (you won’t have to wait until your next instalment of Student Finance for reimbursement of your approved costs to be paid).
Student Finance provides detailed information and instructions about the funding available for study abroad at the following sources:
- Student Finance England - studying abroad: travel grants for students
- Student Finance Northern Ireland - Travel Grant
- Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS)
- Student Finance Wales - Travel Grant
Please contact Advice and Counselling if you are having difficulties applying.
Support for disabled students and those with special needs
We want all of our students to be able to enjoy the international opportunities we offer and get the most out of their Erasmus+ placements.
If you think you might need additional support – of whatever kind – please let us know when you are considering your application so that we can help you with your options. You can contact our Erasmus+ Institutional Coordinator to discuss your application and your eligibility for additional funding (see below).
As soon as possible, it is a good idea to discuss all kinds of additional support you might need to go abroad with our Disability and Dyslexia Service. With your permission, they can get in touch with our office to see how you might be best supported if you are interested in going abroad.
If you think you will need any extra support on the Erasmus+ Programme, we strongly recommend that you discuss your application with us as soon as possible and plan ahead: depending on your host university, any adjustments you might need on your placement may take some time to arrange. Please know that these discussions in no way affect the merit of a future mobility application you may submit, but rather discussing in advance will help us to best advise you on optimal destinations or plan ahead to see what support may be available at a potential destination that you are interested in.
Extra funding support
If you have any additional needs or will need any extra support on your study placement, you may be eligible for a disability grant to help you take part in the Erasmus+ programme. Please contact us on email@example.com for further information.
The grant helps students with additional needs who wouldn’t be able to take part in Erasmus+ without extra financial support.
The allowances are offered if your additional needs mean that you will face additional costs that would exceed your Erasmus+ mobility grant and that you can’t pay for from another source.
The grant covers your approved actual costs and you will have to provide evidence of these costs: to claim the grant, you will need to submit a statement from your doctor (‘or other authority’) confirming:
- your additional needs,
- their severity,
- their anticipated impact on your Erasmus+ placement,
- what additional requirements and additional costs will need to be met,
- a detailed estimate of these anticipated costs.
You must make your application before you start your Erasmus+ placement: you can’t apply for the grant retrospectively.
You must also maintain a full credit load for each term you are on exchange.