For many students planning to move forward into postgraduate studies, the lure of new countries, cultures and experiences – not to mention the quality of available programs and the competitive edge that foreign programs can afford – can be hard to resist. No wonder the number of student expats has exploded! But before you dive head first into this pool of possibilities, let's first take a look at some of the pros and cons of Masters and PhD study on the continent.
Postgrad Study in Europe – The Pros Cheaper educational costs are big draw for UK postgrads; in Scandinavia, Austria and Germany, education is free, and in other European countries, courses are offered at a fraction of the price (on the flip side, specialist and vocational postgrad courses can be expensive). There are plenty of funds, studentships and scholarships available to fund not only course fees where they apply, but also living expenses.
You might be worried that the merit of a postgrad qualification from a Euroversity is less than that of a university in the UK, but thanks to pan-country educational integration initiatives this is not/no longer the case. A postgraduate degree from a respected Euroversity will look as good on your CV as the same from a respected UK institution. Regardless, you should thoroughly research all of the universities that interest you before you apply.
On top of the quality of teaching, European study is generally favourable in the eyes of employers . In a quickly globalising world, international companies want people who can work in diverse groups with people of different cultures and nationalities, so whatever your subject, obtaining a postgraduate qualification at a Euroversity is a great way to demonstrate this.
Postgrad Study in Europe – The Cons Universities in northern Europe tend to let you get on with it. The lack of structure and planning, and the focus on doing things yourself, can be quite a shock if you are not prepared. This is not to say that there is no help and advice available however. Contact time with lecturers is generally excellent, assistance is available for making course choices, and strong feedback is provided on your work. As long as you are proactive and know where things are headed, things should work out fine.
A source of stress and anxiety for many continent-bound postgrads is the language barrier. As long as you get involved with the language it does not take a long time to pick up the basics however, and over time this drawback will turn into a positive as you obtain a working knowledge of the language.
If you are worried of the language barrier getting in the way of your learning, you should realise that the number of English-taught postgraduate courses in Europe has increased dramatically in the last decade, so depending on your desired subject and institution you may not have to go with a course that is taught in another language. If this is your desire however, you may need to take a basic language test.
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