About a year ago, a lady came in to give my class a talk about study abroad. At this point I didn’t even know that UCA offered a study abroad program, let alone what it involved, but given my massive travel bug, I was hooked from the word go. She spoke about how it worked, how we could pay for it, how to apply and the sorts of places we could go. As soon as she mentioned Japan, I knew I had to go. I couldn't miss out on the opportunity to go to the hallowed land of Studio Ghibli and stationery, could I? I am so excited about this opportunity, and I think it’s a shame that more people haven’t taken advantage of it, so I want to explain the process now so that more people consider applying next year.
Some of the destinations my travel bug has taken me to already - Hero's Square, Budapest
Vatican City - What an amazing skyline...
If you want to apply, your first step should be to go to the UCA website. Go to ‘Life at UCA’ > ‘Study Abroad’ > ‘Partner Institutions’ to find the list of universities that UCA is partnered with. Bear in mind that not all of these universities will offer your subject, but a good handful will. This year, the process has changed slightly, so you’ll need to fill out an application form, which you can find on the ‘Study Abroad’ page, and the deadline is 31st March. Though the idea of an application form may sound scary, it couldn’t be easier, and it’s just there so that the exchange team can have all the necessary information in one place.
Once you’ve done that, you can sit back and relax for a while, because nothing’s going to happen until August/September. Over the summer, your grades are going to be checked, and if you pass that (you need an average of 55% or above) then you’ll get an email saying that you’re allowed to apply. Now you can let the exchange team know the universities that you’d like to apply to.
Once you’ve picked your universities, you can start applying. Each university will have different application deadlines depending on the term dates. For example, my term in Japan starts at the beginning of April, so my deadline wasn’t until 10th January, but the chances are it’ll be before the Christmas holidays. Each application will be slightly different, but generally you will be asked to submit a completed application form, an e-portfolio (I did mine as an album on flickr), a short personal statement and a scanned copy of your passport photo page. As my university was outside of the EU, I also had to submit a Certificate of Eligibility application form, which is a kind of like a pre-visa form.
Once you’ve applied, there’s nothing to do but wait! When you get your (hopefully) good news, you can start setting about preparations for going abroad such as funds, flights, visas, accommodation, etc. but the exchange team will be able to help you with all of that.
And finally, if any of you are a broke art student and, like me, are worried about how you are going to be able to pay for all of this, don’t. There are so many ways for you to cover the costs of your time abroad. For starters, you don’t have to pay any extra tuition fees. Not only that, but if you are studying in the EU, you can get an Erasmus grant, and many universities offer a scholarship, both of which will help with your living costs and rent. On top of this, Student Finance England offer a travel grant, which reimburses you for the cost of your flights, minus the first £303. And if all that isn’t enough, you can do what I’m doing, and set up a Kickstarter campaign to raise the rest.
I hope that this has shown you all just how easy it is to apply for the Study Abroad programme, and I hope that more of you do it this year. If nothing else, think of how good your Instagram feed will look. #blessed
- Aoife Casson