Calculating the costs of study abroad

Think about the costs of studying abroad before you apply. It’s usually more expensive than being at Leeds, but costs can vary widely and will differ depending on your personal lifestyle and the cost of living in your host country.

It’s a good idea to plan how you will fund your time abroad as early as possible. Please read the following information carefully, which will give you an idea of the associated costs of a study abroad year (but may not be an exhaustive list). 

Costs to consider

Tuition fees

There are no tuition fees to pay to the partner institution for the period you spend abroad. However, you will need to pay a reduced tuition fee to the University of Leeds. If you're a UK or EU student you can find more information on our undergraduate fees page.

If you're an international student, this amount will depend on your year of entry. For example:

Year of entry Reduced Tuition fee for study abroad year
 2016  £5,100
 2017  £5,300
 2018  £5,850

Ad hoc institutional costs

Host universities may charge a variety of standard, compulsory ad hoc fees for services such as orientation events, student activities, administration, use of campus gym facilities or use of IT facilities. Whether you're interested in these or not, you may be required to pay for them.

These charges will vary depending on your host university, and you’ll be responsible for all non-tuition charges that your host university makes.

Such fees are particularly common in North America, and can run up to a couple of hundred dollars in some cases. Check the feedback on Minerva and ask returning students about any fees they had to pay to their host university.

Visas and financial evidence

You won't need a visa to study in Europe if you hold a passport of an EU member state. To study anywhere else it's very likely you will need a student visa. Visa applications vary in cost from around £30 up to £500.

Students going to some countries will also have to show evidence that they can support themselves financially while abroad. Students selected for the USA, Japan and Hong Kong should be prepared to provide this evidence at the point of formal application to the host university (as early as February in some cases), while others may have until the summer to prepare for this. You should plan for this as early as possible. Read more in Visas for study abroad and Financial evidence for Visa Applications.

Insurance

All students taking a year abroad as part of their degree will be covered by the University of Leeds’ travel insurance policy at no charge. However, some countries and universities also have their own mandatory health insurance policies for international students costing anywhere from £50-£2000.

You may be eligible for a Student Finance Travel Grant, which can help to defray any compulsory health insurance costs - read more under 'Help with travel, medical and insurance costs' in Tuition fees and loans.

Travel expenses

Factor into your budgeting the costs of:

  • return travel to your study abroad destination
  • any visits home during the holidays
  • travel and trips you may want to make while you’re abroad
  • any daily travel expenses
  • emergency funds in case you suddenly need to return home during the year (e.g. credit card or savings).

Don’t book flights until you have had formal confirmation of your acceptance from your host university, and, where applicable, you have obtained your visa. This may unfortunately mean you won’t be able to take advantage of cheaper advanced flight bookings. Read "Help with travel, medical and insurance costs" in Tuition fees and loans.

Immunisations and Medicals 

Some universities require students to provide evidence of having certain immunisations before they can register and begin classes. This is particularly common in North America, but the list of required immunisations will vary by university. While most immunisations should be available on request from your GP (if you haven't already had them), some may not be available on the NHS and may carry a charge.

Some countries will require students to have immunisations or a medical before they will issue a student visa. Medicals may be as simple as having a form signed by your GP to say you are in good health, or they may involve more complicated procedures such as a chest x-ray for tuberculosis screening. Not all procedures will be covered by the NHS, and even having a form signed may incur a charge, so it's a good idea to find out early what will be required of you. Where we are aware of medicals and screenings for visa applications, we mention them in our visa guidelines. Read more in Visas for study abroad.

Living and accommodation

You’ll need to consider your accommodation and living costs abroad, which will vary a lot depending on where you go. Feedback forms from previous study abroad students in our Minerva organisation will give you an idea of the cost of living in the country you’re interested in. Don't hesitate to contact students via the email addresses on their feedback forms with any questions.

Accommodation costs are always the student's responsibility and are not covered by the exchange agreement. Partner university websites may also give estimates of the cost of living on their web pages for international students. Direct links to these pages are given in the Minerva organisation.

Websites such as numbeo.com, expatistan.com can help you get a feel for which countries have a higher cost of living, but you cannot rely on them for up to date or accurate costs.

The LeedsUniAbroad blog covers many topics, including budgeting tips and cost of living information.

Study costs

You may have to buy books or pay an additional fee for lab- or studio-based modules. Previous study abroad students (particularly in the USA and Canada, but also students studying in English rather than the host language of their country) have reported that they were expected to buy their own textbooks/course readings and could not borrow them from the library.

Books may be sold on at the end of the year, but this can still represent a significant expenditure at the start of your time abroad. You may be able to "rent" your course books from book rental companies at some universities in the USA.

If you will be taking lab-based or art classes, don't forget to budget for equipment and materials, including specific materials that may be required by the tutor.

Language courses

If your host university teaches in another language, you may want to take a pre-sessional language course over the summer to prepare yourself - this is an ideal way to strengthen your language skills and prepare yourself for attending lectures. Some language courses are offered at a reduced rate for exchange students, but almost all will come with a tuition fee that you must pay, as well as accommodation and living expenses. Read more in Languages.

Paid student work whilst studying abroad

Many students do paid work while they're studying abroad, but don’t depend on this as a source of funding. Get advice from your host university and past students about the availability of student jobs. If you need a visa to study in your host country, check the visa conditions to see if you're allowed to work. There is information about some countries on the Visas for study abroad page. If you can't easily find the information about working while on a student visa for your host country, ask the exchange coordinator or immigration adviser at your host university.

Budgeting

As well as understanding the costs associated with a study abroad year, it is important to think about funding sources and budgeting. Download the Leeds Budgeting Abroad Tool to help you project the costs of your year abroad.

Banking

Remember to inform your bank about your travels in good time before leaving the UK to avoid your bank account being suspended for suspicious activity. It is important that you write down any important numbers too so that you are able to get in touch with your bank in case of emergencies while you are abroad.

Opening a bank account abroad

The FCO country-specific travel advice is a good first point of call to investigate if you are eligible to open a bank account as it depends on country-specific laws and visa requirements. Opening a local bank account may be the best way to get good rates while you are abroad, remember to discuss this with your bank.

Guide to financing your life abroad

Read the Go Overseas guide for information on things to consider before you go abroad such as opening a bank account abroad, avoiding scams and living abroad on a budget. The guide also offers recommendations on pre-paid currency cards.

Arrival costs

Remember to bring cash with you to cover for any arrival costs until you get your student funding. While it is not advisable to carry large amounts of cash on you, it is important that you facture in some to pay for food and drink, tips and taxis from the airport to your accommodation, accommodation deposits and so on.

Remember to only carry enough money for the day on you and keep the rest of the money in a safe place.