Researching destinations

Choosing destinations is one of your key decisions. Read about different research you can do to help you make your mind up.

Begin your research! Enrol on the Study Abroad Minerva organisation

The Study Abroad organisation on Minerva is one of your most important resources when researching your options. This is where you will be able to access the online form to apply for the programme and where we keep feedback forms written by our returning students, partner university videos and useful links to partner university web pages that will allow you to research many aspects of your year abroad.

1. Enrol on the Study Abroad Minerva organisation

2. Follow the brief enrolment instructions provided on that page.

3. The organisation will then be listed under 'Organisations', which you can view by clicking on the 'Learn' tab.

Decide what's important to you

The year abroad is a very personal experience. Use the below questions to help you understand what you want to get out of it, which will help you decide what kind of institution and location would suit you. Here are some important points to consider when narrowing down your search:

Traditional or Horizon year abroad? Find out more about the different Study Abroad programmes offered by the University of Leeds on our How does it fit with your degree page? and take a look at our partner universities on the Where Can I go? page to explore our destinations.

Is your subject available? Unless you are planning to take a Horizon year abroad, this should be the first question you look to answer when researching a potential host university. If your subject is not taught, or is taught but not available to exchange students, you should not apply: it is your responsibility to check this.

How important is academic standing? Leeds always aims to partner with universities of similar academic standing, so you will find that all of our partner universities have a good academic reputation. Some partner universities have also been selected because, despite lower rankings, they are particularly good in certain subject areas.

Is the destination affordable on your budget? Use feedback forms and Leeds budgeting tool found on our 'Partner University Information Library' on our Minerva organisation and the information on our 'Calculating the costs of study abroad' web page for your research and determine whether you can realistically afford to spend a year in the destination you're considering applying for.

Which locational factors are important to you? City or countryside? Mountains or coast? Hot or cold? Do you want somewhere well connected for international or national travel, or are you more interested in local exploration? Bear in mind that in the USA, campuses are large, but most are not city-based.

Do you have a current interest you want to keep up? If you are involved in a particular sports team or society, getting involved in similar activities abroad can help you settle in and offer you some continuity while trying to acclimatise to a new culture. If it’s important to you to maintain skills so you can remain involved in a sport on return to Leeds, make sure you research what opportunities are available at the universities you apply to.

Is there something in particular you want to experience, or learn? Whether this is academic or extracurricular; learning a new language from scratch or starting to snowboard; experiencing -20°C or gaining an internship (subject to immigration law); make sure you apply for places that will allow you to achieve your aims.

Do you have any health conditions that may need consideration? If you do, it will be essential that you carry out your own research into our partner universities carefully; looking at the disability and student support information on their website and finding out what services are available. If you have specific support requirements in place at Leeds that you will need access to abroad, you may wish to contact our partner universities directly to enquire whether this support would be available to you while studying on exchange. You should also make contact with your School disability contact and School study abroad coordinator to discuss any support that you require from the School during your year abroad. 

Is the destination suitable for you?
What is the demographic make-up of the country/city? What support is offered to minority, LGBT+, disabled students either in the university or the country in general? Are there any places of worship for your faith in the city?

Choosing your university options

1. Join our Study Abroad events to connect with our returning Leeds students and ask them questions on the programme. Our events also allow you to speak to our international students who are spending their year abroad at the University of Leeds, giving you the chance to get first-hand advice from students from our partner institutions.

2. Enrol on the Study Abroad Minerva organisation and use the ‘Partner University Information Library’ section to start researching your destinations in more detail. Most of the sources of information listed below can be found on the ‘Partner University Information Library’.

Use the list of destinations by degree programme. The ‘Destination by degree programme’ spreadsheet lists all the partner universities students on a particular degree subject have studied at previously. You should not be limited by this list and should certainly look into other options, but it may be helpful if you are not sure where to start your research.

Look at the ‘Popularity Index’. This document will give you an idea of which of our partner universities are more popular. If your level 1 average is not too far above the eligibility requirement of 60, you may be advised to consider less competitive partner universities.

Read student feedback. This will give you a valuable insight into the thoughts of previous students, from academic life abroad, finding accommodation and living expenses at our available destinations. Some students will have left their email addresses so that you can contact them with any questions you may have!

Browse the partner university website. Each folder in the ‘Partner University Information Library’ section of the Study Abroad Minerva organisation will give you access to useful links to the partner university’s web pages. Use these links to research get a feel for academic specialities, campus life, and the local area. Most universities will also have a dedicated section for international students that may also be useful, as it won’t assume any local knowledge.

Check partner university departmental websites and/or module catalogue. Make sure your subject is taught. Most universities will have pages aimed specifically at exchange students, which will give you advice on any subject areas that are not open to exchange students. Each university folder on Minerva has a link to that university’s pages for exchange students, and you should follow it in particular to see if they have any information about choosing courses and subject areas that are off limits. Links to all of our partner universities' websites can also be found on the Where can I go? page.

Contact your School Study Abroad Coordinator. This is something you must do at least once before submitting your application, to ensure your application will be approved by your school. Your School Study Abroad Coordinator will be able to:

  • Confirm that your application will be supported by your parent school.
  • Offer advice on which universities may be particularly good for your subject.
  • Offer particular guidance about the school-specific exchanges.
  • Confirm whether the school has particular advice or requirements regarding studying in another language.
  • Confirm any doubts you may have about whether the subjects taught at potential host universities will be deemed suitable by Leeds. 

Need more help?

Drop in to the Study Abroad office and of 11am – 3pm. Our office is open Monday to Friday and you can find us on Level 11, The Marjorie and Ziff Building.