About the Experience

Why should students study abroad?

There are many benefits to studying abroad and these include:

  • Increased confidence
  • Experience a different culture
  • Becoming more independent
  • Develop life skills
  • Increased employability
  • Students who have studied abroad tend to have higher graduate starting salaries than those who have not been abroad

How long do students study abroad for?

The majority of study periods abroad offered by RGU are for one semester only – this can range from 3 months up to 6 months.  Exceptionally, some students may study abroad for a whole Academic Session.

Do students have to be fluent in another language to go on study abroad?

No.  RGU has developed partnerships with universities which teach in English.  While students will find it useful to have some knowledge of the host language to help them in everyday life, it is not essential for their learning.

Will studying abroad add extra time to their studies at RGU?

No.  Providing students successfully pass their study period abroad, no additional time will be added to their degree. 
However, if they fail to achieve the learning outcomes, they may have to repeat that semester.

Will studying abroad be recognised as part of their RGU degree?

Providing students follow an approved course of study at a partner university and successfully pass, their study period abroad will count towards their RGU degree.

How do students express their interest in studying abroad?

They should complete an Expression of Interest form (DOC 492KB) and submit to their relevant European Coordinator.  He/she will then advise them on their next steps.


How do students apply for an Erasmus grant?

  • Once a student has been informed by the European Coordinator that their application for study abroad has been approved, he/she needs to make a formal, online application to RGU.
  • The application contains basic information such as name, address, date of birth etc.  As we write to students by post, it is important that the postal address they provide is correct.  There is an option to include more than one address.
  • Once complete, the student should submit the form electronically.  They will then receive an email confirmation from International Office staff to confirm receipt.
  • The form is then passed to the academic School to formally confirm that the student has been selected to study abroad.
  • The International Exchanges Manager will write to students in due course with additional paperwork.

What does the Erasmus grant cover?

  • The Erasmus grant is designed to be complementary to any funding that the student already receives.
  • It is not intended to cover all additional costs.
  • It is expected that any funding/loans etc. will carry on while the student is abroad as if they were still here at RGU.

How is the Erasmus grant calculated?

  • The British Council is the UK National Agency for the Erasmus+ Programme.  They advise institutions on the maximum grants that can be paid to students.
    In the event that RGU is not awarded sufficient funding to give grants to all outgoing students, some students may be given a grant which includes 0 grant months.  For example, they might be abroad for 6 months, but will only receive a grant for 4 months.  If this does happen, it is to ensure that all students are in receipt of a grant.
  • Grants are calculated on the official semester dates of the host university AND the physical dates that a student is in country.  If they arrive prior to the start of the semester, their funding will commence on the first day of the semester.  However, if they leave before the end of the semester, they will only receive funding until that day.
  • Students have to have a form signed on arrival overseas to confirm their start date and also have it signed again when they leave to confirm their end date.  They must return this form to the International Office within 2 weeks of their arrival in country and then again within 2 weeks of their departure.

How is the Erasmus grant paid?

  • Erasmus grants are paid in 2 instalments.  The first instalment represents 80% of the total grant.
  • The second instalment is released once a student’s study period has ended and the student has returned their Attendance Certificate and submitted an online report to the European Commission.
  • The amount of the second instalment will depend on the actual dates on the student's Attendance Certificate.
  • Erasmus grants are calculated in EUROs but are paid in sterling, directly into students’ bank accounts.

Do students have to pay tuition fees to the overseas university?

No.  One of the conditions of the Erasmus Programme is that no fees are charged by the host institution.  However, fees may still have to be paid to RGU.

Who pays for their travel expenses?

Travel expenses are not paid separately – the Erasmus grant can be used towards these.

What happens if they return early from their study period abroad?

  • It depends on when the student returns.  If it is after a period of longer than 3 months, he/she will be allowed to retain a pro-rata amount of grant, providing he/she submits a completed Attendance Certificate to confirm his/her start and end date.
  • If the student returns before the 3 month mark, it may be possible for them to retain a pro-rata amount, however, the British Council will make the decision. The student will have to provide evidence for their early return as well as a completed Attendance Certificate.  These are then submitted to the British Council who will decide whether a pro-rata amount can be retained or not.
  • In the event of an early return, the student may have to repay some, or all, of their Erasmus grant.  If this is the case, arrangements can be made for this repayment to be made in instalments.

What is the easiest way for students to access money while they are abroad?

There are many pre-paid credit cards available specifically designed with travellers in mind.  Many of these do not charge withdrawal/transaction fees when used abroad and it is easy to add money to these.


Are there any deadlines which students have to meet?

  • For students going to study abroad in Semester 1, they have to apply to RGU for Erasmus+ funding by 01 June.
  • For students going to study abroad in Semester 2, they have to apply to RGU for Erasmus+ funding by 01 December.
  • Students will also have to apply to their host institution to become a student there.  Deadlines vary depending on the host institution – some of them are very early.  Wherever possible, we have included this information on each institution page.

Do they have to complete any paperwork?

  • In addition to the application to RGU, students will also have to apply to their host institution to become a student there.  Deadlines vary depending on the host institution – some of them are very early.  Wherever possible, we have included this information on each institution page.
  • If a student is going abroad under the Erasmus+ Programme, prior to departure, the International Exchanges Manager will write to them with the following documentation:
    • Erasmus Student Charter – this describes both RGU’s and the student's responsibilities under the Erasmus+ Programme.
    • A Grant Agreement – this contains the rules and obligations of the funding.  This includes the dates on which the grant has been calculated and the amount in EUROs (not sterling).  The student has to sign and return this to the International Exchanges Manager.  It is imperative that students sign this BEFORE they go on study abroad.  Failure to sign and date the Grant Agreement before the study period will result in students being ineligible for funding!!!!
    • A Contact Details Proforma – this is to ensure that we have a correct address where the student can be contacted.  He/she has to sign and return this to the International Exchanges Manager.
    • A “Eurobits” booklet – this is a booklet designed to give brief information on countries where we send students.
  • All students going abroad on exchange will receive the following from the International Exchanges Manager.
    • An Attendance Certificate – students have to have this signed by a representative of their host institution both when they arrive, and when they leave.  This is important for all exchange students to ensure their period abroad is officially recognised.  Additionally, for Erasmus students, this is important as the grant is calculated on actual dates.  If there is a difference between the dates in the student's Grant Agreement and the Attendance Certificate, this may result in an increase or decrease in the amount of funding they are entitled to.
    • A Student Travel Information Card – students should carry this with them at all times on their study period/work placement abroad as this provides contact details for Medical Assistance, Travel Advice and Support and handy hints.  If they lose it, they should inform the link to International Office who will arrange for a replacement to be posted to them.
    • These will be posted in hard copy.


Where do students live when they are studying abroad?

This will depend on where they go to on their study period abroad.  Some institutions will provide halls of residence, others will provide private accommodation, and in some instances, students may have to find their own private accommodation.  However, the host institution is bound to assist the students in finding accommodation – although this can range from allocating them a room in a hall of residence through to simply providing a list of private providers, and everything in between.

Will students live in student accommodation?

  • This depends on where the student goes as not all institutions have halls of residence.
  • You should be aware that the term “student accommodation” can vary from country to country – e.g. in some Dutch institutions, private flats that are rented out to students via an external agency other than the institution itself may be classed as student accommodation.
  • It should not be assumed that exchange students will be housed with other students, exchange or full-time.

How do students find accommodation?

  • This will vary from institution to institution.
  • Some may only provide accommodation in student residences.  Others may work with external agencies and will pass these details on to students.  Some may simply provide a list of internet links to private providers.
  • It is the student's responsibility to ensure that they apply for accommodation, in whatever guise it is offered.

What standard of accommodation will students be housed in?

  • Standards of student accommodation vary from country to country.
  • In some countries, it is common for students to share bedrooms.
  • Kitchen facilities may be limited in some student housing as students usually eat on campus where food is sold at a subsidised price.


Does students need to buy an insurance policy?

Providing the student is not a native returning to their home country (e.g. a French person returning to France), their period abroad will be covered by RGU’s Insurance Policy.

What does RGU’s insurance policy cover?

Details of RGU's Insurance policy

Do we need to take out a separate policy?

  • If students are taking any items with a value in excess of £1,500 with them, you should check with insurance@rgu.ac.uk whether the item(s) will be covered.
  • If students will be undertaking dangerous sports (e.g. skiing), you will need to take out a separate insurance policy.
  • Some US universities require that students take out their insurance policy.

Further questions?

If you require any further information on the insurance policy, please contact insurance@rgu.ac.uk


What happens if students become ill while they are abroad?

In the event of a medical emergency, students should contact SpecialityAssist whose contact details are on the Student Travel Information Card.

If it is a routine medical problem, they should go to a local doctor.  The host institution should be able to provide information on providers that they recommend.

Will they have to pay for treatment and/or medication?

This depends on the country the student is in.  It may be that they will have to pay medical fees, fees for prescriptions etc. up front and then make a claim on the University's insurance policy.  In this event, they must obtain receipts for all costs incurred as these will be required by the insurance company.  As with all insurance policies, there is no guarantee that all claims will be paid.

If a student is going to study in Europe, do they need an EHIC (European Health Insurance Card)?  Will this cover all medical treatment and medication?

  • Students should ensure they have a valid EHIC if they are travelling within Europe (the EU and EEA).  EHIC's do expire, so do ensure that the card is valid for the duration of their stay abroad.
  • The EHIC entitles the bearer to the same treatment as a national of the country where treatment is being sought.  It should not be presumed that medical treatment and/or medications will be given for free.

What happens if a student is homesick?

  • It is very common for students to become homesick when they first start their exchange - there is so much to negotiate including a different culture, language, lifestyle, food etc.
  • Although homesickness can be tough, it can be worked through and it does go away after a few weeks.
  • We would always encourage students to try and work through their homesickness - and, if they need to, seek professional help from their host institution.  Usually after 2 weeks, these feelings settle as students become more used to their surroundings.
  • In the event that a student does return home and they have received an Erasmus grant, there is a chance that they may have to repay the full sum awarded.

What support is available to students while they are away?

  • Although the student is not physically on the RGU campus, they are still an RGU student and staff here are still available to support them and provide advice.
  • Students will also be classed as full-time students at the host institution and all facilities available to their full-time students will be available to the RGU student - this includes counselling and other services.

What happens if there is a family emergency and the student has to return home?

  • We understand that emergencies happen and sometimes students have to return home.
  • If the student returns for a short period (e.g. from a couple of days to a couple of weeks), this should not be an issue, but it is always wise to ensure that both RGU and the host institution are kept informed.
  • If the student has to cut short his/her study period for an emergency, you should let RGU staff know as soon as possible as there may be repercussions:
    • depending on when the exchange is terminated, it may be that the student has to repeat that semester
    • if the student is in receipt of an Erasmus grant, they may have to repay some or all of the funding they have received (please see the Finance section above)


Should students inform SAAS that they will be studying abroad?

Yes, SAAS should be told when a student is undertaking an exchange.

SAAS have asked for someone at RGU to sign a form, who can I sent this to?

You can send this to the International Exchanges Manager at the following address:

International Office
Robert Gordon University
AB10 1FR