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Global Opportunities

Frequently Asked Questions

Considering a study abroad experience during your degree is exciting, but it also raises a lot of questions. We are here to assist and advise you as you plan your own journey.

We hope that our FAQs below help to answer some of your initial queries, whether you are a current Queen Mary student or a prospective student considering joining us at Queen Mary and including a study abroad experience as part of your degree programme.

If you have trouble finding answers to your particular questions below, we in the Global Opportunities Office are available and happy to help by email at goabroad@qmul.ac.uk.

I’m interested in knowing a bit more about what opportunities exist at Queen Mary for me to go abroad. Could you tell me some more?

We’re glad to hear that you are interested in going abroad during your degree programme and in pursuing one of the options that is managed by our Global Opportunities Office. Through our Outbound Student Exchange Programme, you could apply to go on exchange for potentially a semester or a full academic year to one of the destinations we offer both within Europe and beyond Europe, depending on your degree programme. Our exchange programmes allow you to study abroad and receive academic credit from another university that is transferred back to Queen Mary and counts towards your degree.

I’m not as interested in semester/full-year opportunities, but more summer instead. Do you offer any summer opportunities?

Our office does offer various Summer and Short-Term Programme opportunities that some students prefer instead of or in addition to a semester/full-year exchange. Most of these are run by our partner universities across the globe, yet sometimes Queen Mary manages the application and selection process for our partner abroad. These options last anywhere from two to six weeks, with some being tuition-free (and you only have to pay for flights) or at a cost.

I’m going to be studying within the School of Medicine and Dentistry. Am I eligible to go on exchange for a semester or a year?

If you pursue the BSc (Hons) Global Health with Year Abroad within the Institute of Population Health Sciences (a new interdisciplinary institute within Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry), mobility opportunities are available to destinations beyond Europe through the International Exchange Programme.

Otherwise, the School of Medicine and Dentistry does not offer the opportunity for other students to go out on exchange for a full semester or a year (due to quite a comprehensive schedule of teaching!), but it could be possible for you to arrange to go abroad during your Medical Elective in your fifth year, usually for 5-8 weeks.

Why should I study abroad?

There are so many benefits to studying abroad, both personal and professional. Have a look at our Benefits webpage.

Where can I read and see more about other Queen Mary students who have been abroad?

Visit our social media pages below to see what experiences our students are having abroad and what they have to say. You can even reach out to one of our Global Opportunities Ambassadors to discuss more one-to-one:

In general, where can I go?

Please consult our lists of destinations available:

You will see that you can filter the list by academic department. Please note that not all destinations are available to all degree programmes, you may have to check with your academic coordinator if you can go to a certain destination.

Can I go to a destination that is not in the list?

Unfortunately, no. Students go on exchange to destinations based on reciprocal agreements that Queen Mary has signed with those institutions abroad, and these agreements are also preceded by a rigorous risk assessment and due diligence process where Queen Mary considers all aspects of student life there and negotiates terms with the partner. These agreements and this process allow for us to confidently send our students to them in exchange for our receiving their students from abroad. This is also what allows exchange students to not pay fees to the host university. If no partnership is in place allowing for such an exchange, Queen Mary cannot allow students to travel to those destinations under the Outbound Student Exchange Programme.

I see a destination in the list where I am interested in going, but it is not valid for my academic school. Would it still be possible for me to go there?

This is usually the case for one of two reasons. Either the partner institution abroad has made restrictions for the degree programme/field of study that you will be pursuing (where they don’t allow exchange students to follow modules or because they don’t have the equivalent department), or your academic school at Queen Mary (or the one that you will be joining if you are a prospective student) has not approved that destination as having enough/appropriate modules to be compatible with its degree programmes. If you wish to discuss further, please reach out to your academic school for more information.

When would I go abroad?

Most of Queen Mary’s regular undergraduate programmes are available "with a year abroad," where you would spend your entire third year abroad of the four-year programme.

If you come to Queen Mary on a regular three-year undergraduate degree, you may be able to spend your first semester of your second year abroad (most academic schools allow this with the exception of those within the Faculty of Science & Engineering). 

If you are not holding an offer for a programme "with a year abroad" but would like to spend an entire year studying abroad, speak to your academic School about a programme transfer from a three- to a four-year degree programme once you start your degree with us. You may be able to contact Admissions and request a change of programme before you start.

(Note: Students from the School of Economics and Finance also have the option to spend the first semester of their third year at some of their European partner universities.)

Can I go abroad during the spring semester?

Only if you go for the full year, so including the spring. It is not possible to study abroad for the spring only. The options offered include either Full year or autumn only, and this depends on your academic school (or the one you'll be joining if you are a prospective student).

Can I apply for university accommodation abroad?

Most of our partner institutions offer accommodation. Where the partner does not allow for you to apply for university accommodation, they will help you to find accommodation, either on campus or locally. Every partner institution is different, so we recommend that you research the partner institutions and speak to the Global Opportunities Team before you complete an application.

How much does accommodation cost?

This varies from university to university, as well as from city to city and also depends on the relative cost of living in that city/country. Moreover, this depends if you prefer to go with university-accommodation or wish to find private accommodation independently.

It is also worth noting that if you are paying for your own private room/flat, your accommodation costs will be much higher than if you share a bedroom, a kitchen or a whole flat with roommates/flatmates. This also relates to cultural differences that you begin to learn about when preparing to study abroad. For example, most students in university-owned housing in the United States share their rooms with another student to keep costs down (and it is also more generally accepted as a cultural norm, even if it's not the rule).

You can find out a bit more about the cost of living and financial expenses on our Finance webpages, sub-section "Living expenses":

Will my living expenses be the same as in London?

It depends on where you will be studying abroad. A student exchange to Portugal will be cheaper than an exchange to Singapore. Would you want to share a flat or do you want to live on your own? Will you cook or eat out a lot? You can find out more and read useful information on our Finance webpages, sub-section "Living expenses":

How do I apply?

The process to apply for one of our degree programmes that includes a year abroad can be confirmed by our colleagues in Admissions and directly within the academic school you hope to join.

Once you arrive at Queen Mary, you complete a centralised (run by the Global Opportunities Office), online application process for the specific destination where you would like to study on exchange. You complete this application process during the year preceding the year you wish to study on exchange.

Each year, we open this online application portal around mid-October for students wishing to apply for a full-year exchange. We open this again for a late application round in February for any late full-year applications or students wishing to go abroad for an optional semester only. You will be able to access this via our How to apply webpage.

When is the application deadline?

The application deadline is typically mid-November for students on a programme “with a year abroad” and mid-February for students going abroad for an optional semester only.

Students on a programme ‘with year abroad’ are given priority; hence, there is an earlier application deadline for them.

Is the process competitive?

Yes and no. As all of our agreements are based on reciprocal exchanges, there are a set number of exchange spots, which can vary, from two to 20 spots per partner institution. While the selection process can be competitive for certain popular destinations with a small number of spots available (e.g. Columbia, Toronto, California), other destinations will not have as many applicants.

Therefore, you are advised to be prepared to select up to a maximum of five potential destinations to maximise your chances of going on exchange, so that you might be allocated your second or third choice if ever you are not allocated a spot for your first choice destination due to spots being taken. We have a wide, diverse portfolio of destinations where students can go, with institutions being added every year, so there’s never any shortage of exchange spots for our students around the globe. For these destinations that you’ve heard less about or are less familiar with, be sure to consider all that they have to offer; the Global Opportunities Office is always very happy to answer any questions you might have and tell you more about any of the eligible destinations.

On what criteria will my application be assessed?

Queen Mary uses a transparent ranking system to improve allocation of exchange spots open to students across the University. Your application will be assessed and given points on the basis of: a personal statement, grades from your previous semester/year/s of study, volunteering and extra-curricular activities, and attendance of one of the "GO Abroad: Get Ready to Apply" workshops that will be organised during the application period (including information on finance and budgeting). These workshops are intended to help you to prepare for studying abroad, ensuring it is right for your circumstances and covers preparing financially.  Both your academic department as well as the Global Opportunities Office will review your application and attribute a ranking. Students with the highest ranking will be allocated their first choices where spots are available.

Students on a programme ‘with year abroad’ are given priority for the exchange spaces; hence, there is an earlier application deadline for them because their applications need to be assessed first.

Will my offer to participate be conditional?

Yes – students are made an offer that requires them to achieve and maintain a grade average of 60% with no failed modules from their QM studies up to and including the academic year before they study abroad.

Do all of the universities have the same academic year?

The academic year varies depending on the country you would like to go to. If you check the profiles for each partner institution on our website, there is a link to that university’s academic calendar so you can check the dates yourself. For example, partner institutions in New Zealand or Australia start their equivalent autumn semesters as early as July but most German institutions only start in October.

Which modules do I have to study when abroad?

If you are going abroad for just one semester, you would look at your Queen Mary degree structure and find equivalent modules abroad to your modules that you would be taking at Queen Mary. This is so when you come back, you are not behind everyone else in the classroom.

If you are going abroad for a full year, there is more flexibility. Usually you take about 50-75% of your modules in your degree field and the other 25-50% are free for you to pick what you like. Your Queen Mary academic School/Department Coordinator will assist you in choosing modules. You can find details about this in our Terms and Conditions to participate on our outbound exchange programmes.

Do I have to pay tuition fees at the partner university? What about fees to Queen Mary?

If you take part in any of our exchange programmes, you will not pay tuition fees to your host university when you study abroad (whether this is for one semester or the full academic year).

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.

If you are spending the whole academic year abroad, you pay a reduced tuition fee to Queen Mary. Home/EU students benefit from an 85% tuition fee reduction for full-year placements abroad (in 2020/21, this corresponds to a tuition fee of GBP 1385). Overseas students pay 50% of their tuition fees, benefiting from a 50% fee reduction.

Students who study abroad for one semester only pay the regular full tuition fee to Queen Mary for that year during which they go abroad.

You can find more information in the Finance sections of our webpages:

What will happen to my loans and grants/Student Finance?

Any national loans or grants that you received while studying with us will be available to you while abroad. Student Finance may even support you with a travel grant. International students who receive grants or loans should continue to do so.

You can find more information in the Finance sections of our webpages:

Are there any additional grants or scholarships available?

The Global Opportunities Office manages a Study Abroad Bursary scheme. You will receive information about this in the "GO Abroad: Get Ready to Apply" workshops when you are preparing for the application process, in the academic year preceding when you hope to complete your exchange. There may be funding available for European destinations, however, due to current ongoing negotiations, an update is not available at the current time.

My parents aren’t too excited about my wanting to go abroad. They are a bit worried about letting me go to study far away, but I am really interested in pursuing this. What can I do to convince them?

Every year, we normally meet with students and their parents together, who often come to us with similar concerns. You are certainly not the first to feel this concern. Your parents are likely coming from a genuine place of concern and understandable hesitation, especially if they have never had a similar chance to study abroad during a degree. We never encourage students to disregard their parents’ concerns or questions. Instead, this might be an ideal occasion for you to speak with your parents about the goals for your academic and professional careers, and talk about why you wish to go abroad and what you hope to get out of such an experience. It would also be useful to discuss where you wish to go and for how long, as our programmes allow for different amounts of flexibility both in terms of geographical distance from the UK as well as time spent away from home. During these discussions, it’s important to be both realistic and honest about why you wish to go abroad, where you can go abroad, and discuss the financial implications of various options.

You might also wish to look at some of the various benefits of studying abroad together, as you might not have considered all of the possible outcomes of a study abroad experience.

If ever going abroad for a semester or a full year seems like something that you are not ready, able or equipped to do, our office also offers various Summer and Short-Term Programme opportunities that could interest you.

Ultimately, the decision to go abroad should be yours, yet ideally you should have the support of as many people as possible if you decide to plan for a new chapter of your life abroad (including your parents), as it will be for your benefit.

Who helps me once I arrive in my new university, host city and country?

Once you begin preparations with your host university to go there on exchange, you will be in frequent contact with our equivalent counterparts there in that university’s academic department or international office. They will be able to answer your specific questions about preparing for your semester or year at their university and provide you with support pre-arrival and once you arrive. They often organise an orientation period for all exchange students like yourself before teaching and the official academic year begin, where they welcome you to their campus and city. Orientation usually lasts anywhere a day to a week, and it’s important to attend as your new university will provide you with lots of information, instructions about enrolment and registering for modules, other guidance and tips for settling in to your new home.

In addition to introducing you to your academic department and sometimes also your academic adviser for your exchange, you are also often put in contact with local students or mentors who help you find your way around and integrate you into student life and the local community. This can happen through student associations (such as an Erasmus Student Network [ESN] chapter, like the ESN chapter at Queen Mary), a Students’ Bureau/Union, sporting clubs, volunteer/work opportunities or other student groups. There are many people available to support your integration as you settle in to your new city, get to know your way around and make friends. And don’t forget – all the other exchange students like yourself will be in a similar situation to you, so you are hardly alone.

What support is available in terms of mental health/disabilities?

We want all of our students to be able to enjoy the international opportunities we offer, including those who receive support from Queen Mary's Disability & Dyslexia Service (DDS). You can count on the Global Opportunities Office in coordination with DDS to help you consider which opportunity could be the best fit for you if you wish to participate.

Before you submit an application to go abroad, DDS can also help you plan ahead by considering together what support (accommodations or adjustments) you would need for potential destinations and then by assessing what a host institution would need to arrange for you. You just need to book a meeting with DDS (ideally before you complete an application to go abroad) to let them know you'd like to discuss and prepare with them.

During your time abroad, you continue to have access to all of Queen Mary’s support services from a distance, as well as the services of your host institution. 

What do I do if I'm having problems at my host institution?

It is very common for students to experience some culture shock when studying abroad with adjusting to a new routine in a new country and way of life. In the first instance, you should talk to your adviser at your host institution who can direct you to the support services locally there at your host institution.

You can also contact the Global Opportunities Team and/or your Queen Mary academic school to talk through any issues you are experiencing.

It is important to note that studying abroad is both rewarding and challenging, but if you are experiencing problems please do not wait until the situation worsens and to let us know as soon as possible. We are here to support you during all stages of your exchange experience. 

Is it safe to study abroad at the moment because of the pandemic?

Queen Mary follows the advice of Public Health England and the FCO in working with students to ensure studying abroad is safe in light of the COVID-19 situation. You would only be permitted to go abroad if it is safe to do so, if there are no travel restrictions and if you would be covered by insurance.

For more information on student mobility and exchanges in light of COVID-19, please visit our Health and safety while abroad webpage, sub-section "Mobility and COVID-19."

What other health and safety matters should I consider?

Students should ensure all mandatory vaccinations and immunisations are covered before departure. Details of what is required can be found on the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website and can be advised by your GP. If you will be taking prescription medication during your study abroad programme, please consult with your GP how many months of supply you can take with you and how/if you will be able to access further prescriptions while abroad.

For more information, please visit our Health and safety while abroad webpage.