By Kerri MacKenzie
The Scottish Government has unveiled plans to provide funding for up to 500 Scottish students to study in Europe.
250 students will be eligible for funding in 2014/15 and 2015/16 and will have the choice of studying at one of five European universities: The University of Southern Denmark, Malmo University in Sweden, Rhein Waal University in Germany, The University of Groningen and Maastricht University in the Netherlands.
The funding will cover the cost of the entire degree and those choosing to study abroad at one of these Universities will be entitled to the same support as their fellow students who remain in the UK.
Mike Russell, Scottish Education Secretary said: “We already pay tuition fees and provide the best package of support in the UK for Scottish students who study at home.
“This pilot will give Scots who wish to study in Europe a chance to benefit from support and is a first for UK students, showing how decisions taken in Scotland benefit Scots.”
Studying abroad has innumerable benefits. As well as gaining a sense of independence and developing transferable skills in key areas such as communication, research has shown that studying abroad can increase your employability.
In a recent survey conducted by NUS Scotland it was found that 40% of Scottish employers believed that a person with experience of studying abroad had, to some extent, a better chance of employment while 1 in 5 found that it significantly increased the chances of employment.
The proposals have been met with great delight from NUS Scotland who have spent several years campaigning for a scheme like this.
Gordon Maloney, president of NUS Scotland said: “The Scottish Government’s pilot is a real step forward in opening up new opportunities for students to develop the skills that our society and economy needs.
“By providing Scottish students studying at these international universities the same bursary and loan support as those back home, we can build stronger economic ties with the rest of Europe, as studying abroad not only makes for a fantastic learning experience but makes students more employable as well.”