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Study Exchange FAQs

Find out more about Study Exchange Programmes

Student exchange programmes enable Queen’s students to spend a semester or year studying at a university in another country, as part of their degree. 

Queen’s has student exchange agreements with over 150 universities across the world, normally in specific subject areas. 

Exchange programmes are open to the majority of academic disciplines at Queen’s, but opportunities will depend on the agreements your School has established and the degree programme you are on.

  • What is a student exchange programme?

    Student exchange programmes enable Queen’s students to spend a semester or year studying at a university in another country, as part of their degree.  Queen’s has student exchange agreements with over 150 universities across the world, normally in specific subject areas.  Exchange programmes are open to the majority of academic disciplines at Queen’s, but opportunities will depend on the agreements your School has established and the degree programme you are on

  • Why undertake a student exchange?

    Taking part in a study exchange is a great opportunity to spend between 3 and 12 months in another country, and have it count towards your degree.  You can make new friends while experiencing another culture and new ways of looking at your subject. 

    There will be a range of personal benefits including increased self-reliance and self-assurance which come from trying something new; increased cultural awareness; new friendships; learning another language.

    Exchange students also find benefits for their specific degree course: a fresh range of specialisms in the host university; a fresh angle on the subject; and different methods of teaching, learning and assessment.

    A study exchange should also enhance your employment prospects.  Employers put a high value on initiative, self-reliance and maturity of outlook.  They are also keenly aware of the need for staff who can work confidently and efficiently in an international context

  • Where can I go?

    The study exchange options for your subject area can be found through the Global Opportunities search tool or Faculty links on our website.  You can take part only if your Queen’s School has established Student Exchange Agreements with specific partner universities covering students on your degree course. 

    Study exchanges are normally available for a maximum of one academic year and must be undertaken on a full-time basis.  Depending on your degree programme and the course requirements, your School might only permit you to undertake a study exchange for one semester.

    Students of any nationality, as long as they are enrolled on a full-time degree programme, are eligible to participate. 

    If you are not sure whether your School has a Student Exchange Agreement for which you would be eligible, you can contact the Global Opportunities Team (Careers, Employability and Skills) – email or Tel: 028 9097 5255. 

  • Will my study exchange be through the Erasmus Programme?

    The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020 and the transition period ended on 31 December 2020.  As a result, its participation in the Erasmus programme ended on 31 May 2023.  However, Queen’s has signed new Student Exchange Agreements with most of its existing Erasmus partner universities, so there are still many options to undertake a study exchange programme in a European country or beyond. 

    If you are going on an exchange programme in Europe in 2023-24, you may find that your host university still refers to you as an Erasmus student!  Please be aware, however, that Erasmus funding is no longer available to students at UK universities.

  • Risk Assessment

    The University is continuing to monitor the situation in relation to COVID-19, including regarding student international travel. Student safety and wellbeing is the University’s first priority.  Current government guidance regarding travel can be found on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) website. 

    For the 2023-24 academic year, the University is permitting compulsory and optional international placements, subject to completion of a risk assessment process.  All students who wish to undertake an international placement will be required to complete an online risk assessment form which will go forward to the International Student Travel Working Group for approval.  Further details on this process have already been sent out by your School. The Risk Assessment form can be found here.

    You must not travel before receiving formal approval from the University to do so.

    We recommend that you hold off making any financial commitments in relation to your international placement until approval has been granted.

  • Who do I contact to find out more information?

    Each Student Exchange Agreement at Queen’s is looked after by a member of academic staff - the International Exchange Adviser - who is the key figure in the administration of the Agreement.  This person is responsible for identifying the course units which Queen’s students could take at the host university, arranging the selection of students, discussing the practical aspects of the scheme with our partners, informing the Global Opportunities Team (Careers, Employability and Skills) of names of the selected students, etc.  Your International Exchange Adviser will be your first point of contact for all questions and difficulties you may have. You can find the name of the International Exchange Adviser for your School/subject area by following the Faculty links below. 

    Each of our partner universities has a corresponding member of academic staff to act as International Exchange Adviser for that university, and that person should also be able to help you with your Study Exchange.

    As a first step, you should discuss your Study Exchange options with the International Exchange Adviser in your School/subject area.  He or she will be able to advise you on all academic matters, from choice of host university to selection of courses and duration of placements.  Your Study Exchange must be approved by the International Exchange Adviser in your School/subject area. 

  • How is my exchange formally recognised?

    Under current rules, it is an essential part of the arrangements that your period of study at the host university should be fully recognised as part of your study for your degree at Queen’s.  This may take either of two forms: your Queen’s degree may incorporate a required year of study abroad; or your period of study abroad will replace a semester or year of study at Queen’s and the marks that you achieve on placement will contribute towards your degree at Queen’s.  The duration of your degree programme will not normally be lengthened due to participation in a Study Exchange.

    It follows from this that you have to be very clear about what is going to be required of you while you are at your host university, in terms of choice of courses, attendance requirements, submission of written or practical work and passing of examinations.  The arrangements made will differ from one Study Exchange to another; in some cases, a year’s satisfactory attendance will have been agreed as standing in lieu of the work at Queen’s; in other cases you will need to pass a number of formal written or oral examinations in order for your period abroad to be accepted.

    The procedure for formal recognition involves two stages:  the Learning Agreement and the Transcript.

    i)               Learning Agreement

    It is your responsibility to discuss with your Queen’s International Exchange Adviser the courses you will take and the assessment procedures to be used for outgoing students at the host university before your departure and to include these details in the Learning Agreement.  Learning Agreement forms are available from your International Exchange Adviser and the Global Opportunities Team website.

    Students are required to complete a Learning Agreement prior to their departure from Belfast.  This form must be countersigned by your Queen’s International Exchange Adviser and the equivalent person at your host university, and returned to the Global Opportunities Team.

    You should ensure that you enrol for the correct number of credits at your host university.  Most European universities use ECTS (European Credit Transfer System) and a full-time workload for one semester is 30 ECTS credits.  If you are studying in Canada, you will normally enrol for 12 credits per semester.  If you are studying in Australia, you will normally enrol for 30 units per semester.

    ii)               Transcript

    International Exchange Advisers will receive from the host university a transcript of the courses undertaken and marks attained by each of his/her students.  The transcript will then be forwarded to the Board of Examiners in your Queen’s School who will determine how the marks obtained are incorporated into your degree programme.

  • How will my grades be converted?

    Unofficial grade conversion tables are available on our website for most European countries, Canada and Australia. 

    Please note that these tables are not definitive and should only be used for guidance by students in determining equivalent marks.

  • How long will my placement be?

    The minimum period for a Study Exchange is one semester and the maximum is one academic year.  You will have to bear in mind that methods of teaching, learning and examining may differ in a number of ways at the host university from those you are familiar with.  Before you go abroad you should have gained a clear idea of what these differences will be (for example, essays to be written in the language of the host university).

  • Do I need to be fluent in the language of my host country?

    Some of Queen’s partner universities will teach in the medium of English (for example in The Netherlands and Scandinavia), however for many host universities you will have to be fluent in the language of the host country, at least by the time you come to take examinations.

    Unless you are studying a language as part of your degree programme or are already fluent in another language, it is unlikely that you will be proficient enough to undertake a study programme completely taught and examined in a foreign language.  It is important to bear this fact in mind when selecting a destination.

    Even if teaching will be delivered in English at your host university, it is recommended that you enrol on the Language Centre classes available in the McClay Library in advance of your study placement.  The Language Centre classes can help you improve your language skills for use in a social context.  Information on available courses can be found at:

  • How can I apply for a study exchange?

    Firstly you'll need to research where you can go....

    Using the Faculty links tables, find out which universities Queen's has Student Exchange Agreements with in your subject area.  Then investigate the university you are interested in.  Try to find out as much as possible about the university in advance of meeting with your International Exchange Adviser.  It pays to be well-informed.  Most universities have web pages dedicated to incoming Exchange Students.  You should especially look for information on admission procedures and how to apply for accommodation.

    You should then contact the International Exchange Adviser for your School to find out about the application/selection process.  The member of Queen's staff responsible for each subject area is listed in the Faculty links.  If there is competition for a limited number of places, the International Exchange Adviser may decide to interview interested candidates.  Final decisions may be based on applicants' past academic performance and apparent commitment to the opportunity of studying abroad.

    Nomination to your Host University....

    The International Exchange Adviser will notify the Global Opportunities Team of the students selected to attend each partner university on a Study Exchange.  You will then be nominated to your host university.

    Your host university should send you an application form for admission to that university and guidance about accommodation, or give you a link to this form and information online.  Chase this up if there seems to be a delay.  Note that host universities may have a deadline for the receipt of applications and it is very important to adhere to those deadlines.  
    Although most nominated students are accepted by our partner universities, the host university will make the final decision on this and notify you about your acceptance

  • Will I receive any financial support?

    Please read the information on our website here about funding to support Study Exchanges in 2023-24. 

    When your School notifies the Global Opportunities Team that you have been selected for a Study Exchange, the Team will email you and invite you to apply for an International Student Mobility Grant via an online form. 

    International Student Mobility Grant

    While you are abroad you should continue to receive in full the normal funding (eg student loan or maintenance grant) that you would have received if you had been spending that period in Belfast.  In addition, you should be eligible for an International Student Mobility Grant, which will be paid to you by the Global Opportunities Team at Queen’s. 

    Please note that the International Student Mobility Grant is only supposed to be a top-up to the source of funding which you are already living on at Queen’s.  It should in no way be seen as a lucrative scholarship.  It is just a contribution towards additional costs, eg travel, higher cost of living in your host country, etc.

    The level of funding will depend on:

    • your host country and the cost of living there in relation to the UK;
    • the length of your placement;
    • whether you meet specific widening participation criteria;
    • the amount of funding awarded to Queen’s for all of its students;
    • the number of participating students.

    Please note that International Student Mobility Grants are:

    • only available for an in-person study exchange in your host country (ie virtual placements are not eligible);
    • not available for students undertaking a study exchange in their home country;
    • only available if the study exchange is a recognised part of your degree programme and you continue to be an enrolled Queen’s student (ie not on a leave of absence).

    International Student Mobility Grant - How much, when and how?

    The UK’s participation in the Erasmus programme came to an end on 31 May 2023.  This is due to the UK government’s decision not to associate to the new Erasmus programme following Brexit.  As a result, Queen’s will be unable to offer Erasmus mobility grants to its students in 2023-24.

    The UK government has introduced the Turing Scheme, a new national funding scheme to support international study and work placements.  Funding is limited and is awarded to UK universities on an annual basis, following a competitive application process.  Universities are normally notified of the outcome of their application in late summer.

    Based on its applications in the first two years of the Turing Scheme, the University anticipates that it will have a limited amount of Turing funding available for students in 2023-24.  However, the University Management Board has made a commitment to provide Turing or equivalent funding to all students undertaking an international study exchange at a partner university in 2023‑24, provided they meet any eligibility criteria.  Your International Student Mobility Grant for 2023-24 may therefore be funded through the Turing Scheme or by Queen’s University Belfast.  In either case, it will be distributed by the Global Opportunities Team at Queen’s.

    The International Student Mobility Grant rates for 2023-24 are detailed below.  They vary depending on the country in which your host university is based.  Funding is only available for activity during the period 1 September 2023 to 31 August 2024.

    Country Maximum Monthly Grant Rate

    Group 1 countries (high cost of living): Full list available here but includes: Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Switzerland, USA


    Group 2 and Group 3 countries (medium and lower cost of living): Full list available here but includes: All EU countries, Brazil, Iceland, Norway, Turkey


    Students who meet the widening participation criteria below may be eligible for an enhanced grant amount.

    • from a household with an annual income of up to £25,000 (to determine your household income, the University will use the information submitted in your application to the Education Authority / Student Finance for student loans and other financial support);
    • care experienced – students who have been in the care of a Health and Social Care Trust or Local Authority for three months or more at any time.

    The enhanced grant for students who meet this criteria is:

    Additional monthly allowance


    Travel award based on distance to your host country/university

     10 to 99km = £20
    100 to 499km = £165
    500 to 1999km = £250
    2,000 to 2,999km = £325
    3,000 to 3,999km = £480
    4,000 to 7,999km = £745
    8,000 to 12,000km = £905
    12,000km+ = £1,360

    Visa (if required)

    Actual cost based on receipt


    Additional funding may also be available for Students with Special Educational Needs, if your School has made us aware of this.  This could include, for example, funding to support additional costs for students with  physical disabilities, medical conditions or learning difficulties.  Please email the Global Opportunities Team for further guidance at

    Your International Student Mobility Grant will be calculated based on your exact dates of attendance at your host university.  The Global Opportunities Team will send you a Confirmation of Attendance Form.  When you arrive at your host university, you will need to get the form completed by the Exchange Office there and return it to the Global Opportunities Team at Queen’s.

  • Will I still be able to receive my Student Loan?

    Students undertaking a period of study abroad are entitled to receive their normal student loan.  Some students may be eligible to apply for a higher rate of loan and some may also be eligible for travel grants within the UK student support arrangements.

    When applying for your loan, you should notify your Education Authority / Student Finance that you will be undertaking a period of study abroad.  They will normally ask you to complete an additional Course Abroad form, to confirm the details of your placement.  If you receive this form, you may send it to the Global Opportunities Team at Queen’s.  The Global Opportunities Team will complete, sign it, and return it to you for forwarding to Student Finance.  We recommend that you keep a copy of the signed form.

  • What tuition fee will I pay?

    Exchange students are not required to pay tuition fees to their host university.  However, charges may be made for orientation programmes or language courses.

    Students who spend part of the year on a Study Exchange will be liable to pay the full year's tuition fee to Queen’s in the normal manner.

    In previous years, NI/GB/ROI students who were on a full-year international study or work placement paid no tuition fee to Queen's and the University was reimbursed by the Department for the Economy (NI government).  This was a NI government incentive to try increase the number of students participating in international mobility programmes.  As at 1 June 2023, the University is awaiting confirmation from the Department for the Economy of the availability of this tuition fee waiver for students undertaking full-year international study or work placements in 2023-24.  We will advise students once this information becomes available.

    Note that the tuition fee waiver, if confirmed, is only applicable to students who apply for a full-year study placement in the first instance.  Students who extend their placement mid-year will not be eligible for a tuition fee waiver

    International students who normally pay the overseas tuition fee rate to Queen’s, and who do not normally qualify for UK student support/loans, will be liable to pay the full year’s tuition fee to Queen’s in the normal manner.

  • How do I find accommodation in my host city?

    This is the area which is likely to give you the most concern.

    NOTE: Queen's University does not organise accommodation on behalf of outgoing Study Exchange students. Each student is responsible for his/her own application. Please check the website of the destination university for information/application forms and/or a contact email.

    Your host university may own no student accommodation whatsoever.  There may be purpose-built student accommodation which is owned and administered by a quite separate body.  Your International Exchange Director may have discussed these matters with colleagues in the host university, but in the end it is your responsibility to be satisfied that you will be able to find acceptable accommodation at a price you can afford

    The Exchange/International Office at your host university should be able to advise you about housing options for exchange students.  Another useful source of information is the Queen’s students who went to your host university in previous years.

    If you are living in Queen’s University accommodation, you must discuss with the Queen’s Accommodation office if you wish to leave your accommodation to undertake an overseas placement.  Unless a replacement can be found for the room, you may be liable for the cost of accommodation during your absence.

  • Will I require a visa to travel to my host country?

    The UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020 and the transition period ended on 31 December 2020. 

    New rules on entry to the EU came into effect from 1 January 2021 for UK nationals.  Living, studying and working in an EU country depends on the rules in that country.  You may need to apply for a visa or residency, especially if your visit will be for a duration of more than 90 days.  You should also check the validity of your passport, as it should normally be valid for 6 months beyond your planned return date.

    General information on the immigration requirements for UK nationals for your host country are available on the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) website in their detailed information for each country.  Information about healthcare is also available there.

    For specific guidance on applying for a visa for your host country, you should consult the website of the Consulate or Embassy of your host country in the UK, for example the French Consulate (London) or the Spanish Consulate (Edinburgh).  You should be aware that, for some countries, your visa application must be made in person at an application centre in Scotland or England, or you may be required to attend an interview or biometric testing as part of the application process.  There may also be the requirement to submit supporting documents which are translated into the language of your host country.

    Nationals of other non-EU countries may also require a visa to live, study or work in the EU and should refer to the Consulate of your host country.

    Holders of an Irish or other EU passport may continue to move and reside freely within the European Union, without requiring a visa.

  • What about insurance for my time abroad?

    Before planning any international travel, please check the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website (FCO), as travel advice is subject to regular change.  

    The University holds a travel insurance policy which provides worldwide cover for staff and students travelling on authorised University activity.  The University’s insurance provider, UMAL, has confirmed that Travel and Emergency Medical cover will apply to University-authorised travel.  However as Covid-19 is an ongoing event, while Medical cover will be provided, there will be no cover for any Covid-related cancellation or disruption. The full list of benefits and limits is available on the Queen’s Insurance website.

    *** To be covered under the Queen’s Emergency Medical and Travel Cover, you must complete the Queen’s online Travel Notification Form, providing details of your Study Exchange.  It is very important that you do so.  If you need to contact the Insurance Section at Queen’s you can email ***

    You should note that the Queen’s policy:

    • normally covers travel of up to 7 days within your host country at the beginning, end or during your study placement. It does not cover travel for longer periods within your host country or travel of any duration to a third country.
    • does not include cover for personal activities such as extreme sports, etc.
    • has an exclusion on personal mobile phone claims.
    • has an excess which varies within the policy, which means that you will be liable for a certain amount of any claim/loss.

    Further details can be found in the Travel Cover Summary. We recommend that you review and keep a copy of this with you whilst travelling. The policy details and emergency contact numbers are included.

    Public Liability: As a full-time registered student of Queen’s, during your Study Exchange you will be covered by the University’s Public Liability insurance. This insurance protects the student on placement for loss, damage or injury caused to the host university if found to be legally liable.  However, it will not indemnify students for the consequences of any deliberate malicious or irresponsible acts on their part. 

    Other Insurance Policies

    You may want to consider taking out additional health and travel insurance, where the policy has a lower excess and/or covers any personal activities you plan to undertake whilst abroad.  We are unable to recommend alternative insurer providers.

  • Other sources of advice

    Before you go, you should use all the sources of information which are open to you.  The key sources of information at Queen’s are the International Exchange Adviser for your subject - see the Faculty links – and the Global Opportunities Team.  There will be similar contacts at your host university.

    Other sources include:

    (i)         The website of the university you wish to attend – most have pages for Exchange Students.

    (ii)        Students of your host university who are currently studying at Queen’s.  If there are none in your own School, the Global Opportunities Team can put you in contact with students from other Schools.

    (iii)        Queen’s students who have previously spent a period at your intended host university.  Again, if there are none in your own School, contact the Global Opportunities Team at

    (vi)       The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) website on:

    Foreign Travel Advice

    (vii)       UK Government advice on BREXIT:  

    (viii)      Study in Europe website at

    (v)        Erasmus Student Network website:

    (x)        Articles by students who have previously studied or worked abroad:

    (ix)        Information for students going to France: