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).

Past student feedback can also help you understand the cost of living at our partner universities. Read recent feedback on the VLE (in the Study Abroad office 'organisation'). 

Calculating your costs

Tuition fees

Your tuition fees will be affected by study abroad - read Tuition fees and loans.

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 the VLE 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.

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. Read more in Insurance.

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, where you may need various vaccinations, such as hepatitis B, MMR, Meningitis, etc, in order to enroll. This list 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 and partner university websites will give you an idea of the cost of living in the country you’re interested in. Recent feedback is on the VLE (in the Study Abroad office 'organisation'). Don't hesitate to contact students via the email addresses on their feedback forms with any questions.

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 VLE organisation. Accommodation costs are the student's responsibility and are not covered by the exchange agreement.

Websites such as numbeo.com and expatistan.com can help you get a feel for which countries have a higher cost of living, but you cannot rely on them to give costings that will be reflected 100% accurately on your arrival.

Study costs

You may have to buy books. 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 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.