The New Gap Year? Graduates Opt For Masters Degrees Abroad

The New Gap Year? Graduates Opt For Masters Degrees Abroad
The New Gap Year? Graduates Opt For Masters Degrees Abroad

More graduates are ditching travelling to Thailand and opting for a slightly more intellectual "gap yah": a masters degree at a foreign university, research has revealed.

The news is bound to reignite the age-old "is it worth it?" argument, as many students ditch the gap year completely in the face of the tough jobs market.

Figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) show more than 1,500 graduates continued their studies abroad last year, a rise from 2011, while the agency predicted another rise in 2013.

HESA estimate the main factor is the stark difference in tuition fees; students can pay up to £41,000 for an MBA at Oxford University, or can enrol in courses at universities in Sweden or Norway completely free.

British students taking up masters degrees at the University of Maastricht, Netherlands, have multiplied by 10 times in recent years.

Anna Boyd, manager of The Student World, says many students are still unaware of the opportunities overseas. "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," she wrote in a recent blog for HuffPost UK.

"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.

"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," Boyd continues. "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."

Story continues below..

1. Thailand

Top Gap Year Destinations

Mike Hill, chief executive of careers service Graduate Prospects said although the numbers of students studying masters abroad had increased, it was still a "minority". "Postgraduate fees are considerable," he says. "There are some people who are concerned about that cost if they are wanting to go an do a masters, but if I was 21 and I was thinking about doing a masters and spending a nice amount of money, I might want somewhere with a slightly better climate.

“We know that it is happening, let’s not get out of proportion, but we are talking about a significant minority who are giving themselves a little bit of an advantage in the recruitment market afterwards."