Will students fly off to flee fees?

March 12, 2004

Only a handful of UK students take the opportunities opened up by budget airlines and the wider availability of English-taught subjects to take an undergraduate course in the near-Continent.

But, after 2006, the near-absence of tuition fees in most of Europe compared with up to £3,000 a year at an English university make France, Scandinavia and Ireland rational choices for students seeking quality education while avoiding the heaviest direct costs.

European Union membership means that UK students are entitled to be treated as "home" students, just as their counterparts are when they study in Britain. This means that they pay the same for enrolment and student association membership, and are generally entitled to the same financial support.

Cheap flights and speed improvements on Eurostar to Paris or Brussels mean those occasional trips home can cost less than the train fare to Leeds or Manchester and can take less time.

Historically, most of the small proportion of UK students studying at undergraduate level overseas have been drawn to US elite schools or, increasingly, tempted by the sun, surf and can-do culture of Australia.

Programmes such as Socrates-Erasmus have given students the opportunity to spend a semester or even a year abroad, but very few have taken the opportunity to enrol on a full programme of undergraduate study in the EU.

However, as potential students review their study options, that number may grow.

The Times Higher talks to three who have taken the plunge, and assesses the pros and cons of becoming a Euro-student.

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