THE BLOG

Study Abroad as a Way to Make Clearing Less Daunting

27/08/2013 11:07 BST | Updated 22/10/2013 10:12 BST

A-Level results day can be one of celebration or commiseration with thousands of students facing the prolonged agony over the coming days of whether they have been able to secure a place at university through the mad scramble often associated with the clearing process.

For those who end up not being able to get onto a degree course for the start of this academic year, a year-long wait to set out on their undergraduate journey as a fresher could feel like the end of the world when, in fact, it could open up a whole new one.

Although an increasing number of undergrads and postgrads are looking at studying abroad as an option, fuelled in part by the dramatic rise in tuition fees, many are still unaware of the opportunities overseas when it comes to applications, intakes and enrolments.

Unlike here in the UK, you can apply directly to an unlimited number of universities and many have rolling intakes and later enrolments throughout the year. And some are now extending their deadlines for this academic year to be even more flexible for those who miss out through UCAS.

Applications are open right up to enrolment this September at many universities elsewhere in Europe, particularly in the Netherlands. HAN University of Applied Sciences has, for instance, extended its application deadline from June 1 to August 25 this year in the hope of attracting more school-leavers from the UK and boosting its international student community.

Further afield and the University of Winnipeg in Canada is an example of an institution that has multiple intakes with studies starting in September, January and May. Not only does this give students time to make an informed decision about whether it's right for them, it can also fit in around those wanting to take some time out from the classroom.

And in Australia, most universities have two intakes per year in February and August which can be a plus for those embarking on a gap year or a working holiday there before starting a degree. Latest statistics from Study Perth show a 6.7 per cent increase in students form the UK in Western Australia.

With universities in England now charging up to £9,000 a year, more and more students realise that it can pay to shop around with more affordable and sometimes free degree courses available overseas, for instance in Finland, Denmark and Sweden.

Demand for information about higher education courses in Europe has rocketed by 122 per cent in the last year, according to research by Study Portals, the largest course listing website on the continent. Other data backs up the trend, for example, large public universities in the Netherlands have seen almost a doubling in enrolments.

Even where fees are similar or higher to those in the UK, such as in the USA and Australia, many students realise that they can get more for their money by gaining a global awareness. As well as broadening their horizons, those who have studied abroad say the experience has made them more adaptable and independent, more globally and culturally aware and made them stand out in the crowded jobs market.

It's a big decision to make and a big step to take, and although it might not be for everyone, the potential benefits make it hard to ignore as an option.

And for those who miss out on a place through clearing or are worried about going through the process next year, it's definitely one to consider. Entry requirements might be lower and some admission offers might be unconditional - even if A-Level results are not as expected.

The Student World provides information for students in the UK about studying abroad via its website and The Student World Fairs.