EU referendum: How will it affect studying and working abroad?

Answer: a lot.

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The EU referendum's given young people plenty to think about. There's employment, going abroad, education, and a load of other things.

So it's logical to worry about one topic in particular: studying and working abroad.

Yes - since we were teenagers, we've taken for granted that we can go interrailing, do a year abroad or screw it all and settle in Berlin if we'd prefer to spend the rest of our years at a never-ending techno night.

But if we were to leave the EU, things could change a great, great deal.


We asked Lizzie Fane, founder of website Third Year Abroad, for her thoughts on just this.

The situation

We all know someone who's studied or worked abroad. Loads of them end up settling in France or Germany, say, or at least bringing home memories of an amazing trip.

Third Year Abroad offers information and advice to students and graduates who want to do this, and those who want to use their skills gained abroad to jump-start a career.

But if Britain were to leave the EU? Well, a number of things could affect their plans.


That little thing called funding

"Most of our funding - besides business links and that sort of thing - comes from the EU," Lizzie explains.

"This is because the funding bodies that are interested in study abroad are all EU-funded themselves."


Essentially, loads of well-known programmes, like Erasmus+ Study Abroad, Erasmus+ Work Abroad, and the European Voluntary Service, are funded by the European Commission.

And programmes tend to - shocking as it might be to some - need money to work.

Taken for granted

Understandably, most year abroad-ers want to stay 'in'. But, funnily enough, not all Third Year Abroad students agree:

“To which it's tempting to say - 'are you going to pay back the grant that you received, then?'” says Lizzie.

"Thing is, we have around 28,000 students who study or work abroad each year from the UK. And after some very basic maths, each student gets around €325 a month on average in grants, and goes for an average of nine months - so that's around €3,000 a year each."


In other words, the EU gives these students a hell of a lot of money to do what they're doing.

"And if we leave the EU, despite working in the industry, I haven't heard about any contingency plan for Britain to provide that funding."

So say a potential farewell to those grants if Brexit goes through.

Fees, fees, fees

Remember that time £3,000-a-year university fees tripled to £9,000 a year? Probably not. It was like, totally no big deal.


Well, language students usually do a four-year course - one year being spent abroad.

And to stop them being slapped with a £9,000 bill for a year in which they're not even at their own uni, there's currently a 15% fee cap for that year - so it costs more like £1,350.

If Britain were to leave the EU - you guessed it - this cap could be under threat. So say hello to an extra £7,650 to pay.

And if you don't like paperwork...


"At the moment there’s already a heap of paper you have to sort in order to become an Erasmus student," says Lizzie.

"But if we leave the EU, there will be so much more."



You've probably guessed that Lizzie wants Britain to stay in the EU.

For anyone that wants to study, work or live elsewhere within the EU, it makes sense to be - as she puts it - "all in it together".


But as always, there are two sides to every story, so keep an eye out for more of our content on the EU referendum.

What do you think?

Feature image: scot2342, European Union