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The Year Abroad is an integral part of your degree and provides you with a unique opportunity to develop and expand your academic interests while becoming fully integrated into the life and culture of the country you visit.

During your Year Abroad you will be registered to study modules in the host university but you remain a student of the University of Birmingham and, as such, become an ambassador for both the University and the Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences (LANS) programme. Staff on the LANS programme are confident that, with careful planning, you will have a wonderful time, and we encourage you to take full advantage of all of the opportunities the Year Abroad affords.

In principle, you are free to apply to any of the 250+ universities across the world with which the University of Birmingham has an exchange agreement. As the LANS programme develops we will be increasing the number of exchange places with universities which have a similar programme, but you are not limited to such exchanges.

Applications are submitted online to the University’s Study Abroad & Exchanges Office by the end of November of your second year. You will be asked to list your preferred choice of institutions and your application must be supported by a personal statement which explains why you have chosen them.

The Study Abroad & Exchanges Office will then allocate students to places depending on a range of factors including:

a. Academic need - students may have to attend a particular institution because they need to acquire subject-specific credits for their degree. For instance, in order to exit with a Natural Sciences qualification, you may need to take science-related modules during your Year Abroad.

b. Personal interests - this may involve participating in sporting or cultural activities.

c. Specific personal needs.

d. Academic performance - there will inevitably be stronger demand for certain institutions and your academic performance (i.e. your Year 1 grade average) will be used to determine who will be offered places in those institutions.

Allocation of students to partner universities will normally be made by the end of January. 

No-one is guaranteed a place in any particular institution and you should give careful consideration to your preferred choices. If you choose a range of universities from among the most popular destinations, you run the risk of not being allocated to any of them and being allocated to one for which you have not expressed a preference.  

As the Year Abroad is an integral part of your degree programme, UK students continue to receive financial support for fees and students loans as in other years of study. In addition, in order to support students going on a Year Abroad, the policy of the University of Birmingham is to charge a reduced fee for this year of study. Currently, if you are classed as Home for tuition fee purposes and you are spending the whole of the academic year studying abroad at a partner institution, then you will pay 15% of your agreed tuition fee for the placement year. Students who are classed as overseas for fee purposes and spend an entire year abroad will pay 50% of the tuition fee. You will have no financial obligation with the host university.

However, as is the case while studying at Birmingham, you will be responsible for your own travel and subsistence costs. This is something you should consider carefully before making your final decisions about where you would like to go.

The ‘Turing Scheme’ announced by the UK Government will support global mobilities across a wide range of countries. Scholarships are also available for specific destinations/countries through individual agreements and partnerships.

Given the wide range of choices available to you for your Year Abroad, you need to think very carefully about the choices you make. LANS staff and colleagues in the Study Abroad & Exchanges Office are here to help, but we cannot answer detailed questions about all of the programmes and modules in all of our partner institutions. This means that you will have to spend a significant amount of time researching the possibilities.

In making your decisions, you should take the following factors into account:

i)  Academic requirements of your major(s) which you should discuss with the relevant department and your LANS tutor.

ii) Range of programmes and modules available at the universities to which you are interested in applying.

iii) Travel and living costs.

iv) Term dates.

v) Your first-year average mark.

Remember that incoming exchange students at Birmingham, as well as returning year abroad students, are an excellent source of information.

The key timetable of events leading up to you going on your Year Abroad is as follows:

Year 1 Exam Term

Preliminary Meeting - a general introduction to the Year Abroad, and to invite you to begin to do some research about where you might like to go in preparation for the decisions you have to take in the first semester of your second year.

Year 2 Semester 1 - presentation from a member of the Study Abroad & Exchanges Office about the process of selection and general advice about the Year Abroad. You will also attend an Individual Tutorial Meeting to speak with your tutor. You will then submit your Year Abroad Application to the Study Abroad & Exchanges Office and / or Department of Modern Languages.

Year 2 Exam Term / Summer Vacation - before you leave to begin your year abroad, you will be asked to complete and submit to LANS a Year Abroad Learning Agreement which lists the modules you will register for and which have been agreed by the host university.

While abroad, you can stay in contact with LANS staff by email. You will also be expected to take part in a Skype meeting with your personal tutor once a month at a time suitable to both. This will help to assure us that you are doing well and assist you in getting the most out of your time abroad.

This leaflet was written several months in advance of the start of the academic year. It is intended to provide prospective students with a general overview of the Year Abroad but please note that some details may change before the September 2021 academic intake. If you have any questions about the Year Abroad then please contact the staff team in Liberal Arts and Natural Sciences at and we will be happy to help.