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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am currently studying a BA degree in the arts in the UK. However, I have extreme financial hardships and I wonder whether it is better for me to move to France to continue my studies. I live in the most expensive city here and the thought of getting a loan of more than 15.000GBP a year to pay my tuition fee and maintenance loan makes me really sick (especially knowing that in other European countries, you pay significantly less or almost nothing). I also grew up in a different country with different beliefs and getting into debt isn't something I can take on easily.

I am thinking of moving to Marseille and Lyon and study there. Another option would be moving to Scotland where tuition fee is still cheaper than England.

However, I am wondering whether I should just bite the bullet and stay in the UK, especially as I would like to work in developing countries and (if I finished here) I would apply to work for the British council overseas. Just having a UK Honours degree at 2.1 or higher seems like a good and safe option and brings a lot of opportunities that are sometimes only limited to UK graduates.

But, most of the time I scrape by and really struggle which also affects my coursework and sometimes I feel that university education shouldn't be too stressful in terms of finances. I even thought of taking a year off because I couldn't take it anymore but I really want to finish my degree.

I would like your opinion and advice, I am not sure whether this is the best forum to ask (there are student forums etc) but I would like advice from different sort of people!

Thanks a lot!
 

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My gut reaction is to say "stay put and grit your teeth"; if you have to take a student loan, do so - remember you only start paying it back when your salary tops a fairly healthy sum; if it never does, you never have to pay it back. (Martin Lewis has some good advice on this subject.)

You say you're doing a BA in "arts"; do you mean Fine Arts or History of Art, or some such, or d'you mean some combination of subjects in the Faculty of Arts, which includes languages, history, geography, etc.?

And how good's your French? Even if you don't need it in class, you do need a modicum to live everyday life. If not, you will find yourself desperately isolated and probably even more depressed than you are currently.

And be under no illusion; education doesn't come cheap here either. My daughter's Ecole Specialiste fees for this academic year are just short of 8K Euros, and then, of course, she has living costs on top - estimate ca. 1000E/month - and that's not in expensive place for renting such as Lyon. A French friend, whose daughters are in medical schools in St Etienne and Lyon, is also finding he has to fund around 20K pa for each of them, although there are certain tax breaks associated.

Most of us regulars in here are relatively long in the tooth, and we have adult children, mostly. If you were mine, the advice I've given above would be that I'd be giving directly.

FWIW, there's a 20 yr-old Brit here, been here since she was 12, fully socially and linguistically integrated, who has chosen Queen Mary's London to take her degree. I'm not sure of the finances of it - I think she gets a little help from France, but she has UK student loans just like (nearly) everyone else.

Hope that helps a bit. You might not agree (whether violently or mildly), but it may help you to make up your mind.

Good luck,

hils
 

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Afterthought: since you live - presumably - in London, could you consider a transfer to a cheaper city - Lancaster, Bangor or Newcastle, for example, or indeed Scotland, although you should rule out Edinburgh (v. expensive) and probably Glasgow and Aberdeen as well - maybe Stirling ... or even Belfast or Dublin?

h
 

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I think Hils is referring to Ecole Specialiste which, I think, are like Ecole Superières. These are not "universities" but a parallel system which is "semi private". I think Fr universities are free, not sure. However, you should be clear about the Fr education system - it's not easy to understand. To my knowledge universities insist on a diploma defined level of French for entry into the classes - I've been in language school with students who were sweating to pass the Fr language exams, or no course in France.

Have you thought about the Erasmus scheme? perhaps you have to be in a UK university, but worth checking? How about other countries, some offer courses taught in English. The world is your oyster!

DejW
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I would go to an ecole des beaux arts and it is fairly cheap, around 300-500 euros a year!

Regardless of where I move in England, I'd still have to pay the full tuition fee under the new system. For me it is also important to go to a good school and I have heard many positive reviews of the ecole des beaux arts in Lyon. I have already been to Marseille and I have heard it is really cheap to live there (London: 400-500 pounds a month)

I have already checked with the departments there and I could transfer if I pass the French test (If I am not mistaken, it is level B1 or B2, depending on which year I would enter since it is a 5-year-course). Since it is beaux arts, I think language requirements are not that high. I don't think my French is bad, I am good at writing (with the use of a dictionary) and conversing but I could do a French course to improve it.

May I ask what are the reasons for sticking it out in the UK? Are there any significant advantages as opposed to studying in France?
 

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May I ask what are the reasons for sticking it out in the UK? Are there any significant advantages as opposed to studying in France?
k; you've done some homework and that's good. The reason I stay to stick it out is my concern that you'd find life in France more difficult than you anticipate - I could be wrong (I have been known to be on occasion!) - it really depends upon your own character to a great extent. But I'm worried that you're fleeing the UK because of a simple cost issue which can be resolved if you look at the guide I sent the link for. You don't have long before you complete your degree, and, as you've said already, a UK degree opens doors which others can't. Subsequently, if you're set on France (or anywhere else), you'll be in a better position to consider, say, a Master's on the Erasmus or Leonardo programmes.

Yes, to some of us, taking a "loan" goes against the grain, but, in all seriousness, I think it's something worth taking up - and you'll see, it's not really a "loan" in the traditional sense.

Don't act in haste; I think the situation in France is going to change fairly soon, as the French populace/government catches up with the realities of the present economic crisis - and, bear in mind, that, at times of hardship, people cling to what they know, close ranks, and don't accept incomers easily.

hils
 

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Hils has given you good advice here. She is one of those people who is usually 100% correct. On the few occasions that she is not 100% correct, she slips down to 99%!

I've been in France for over 12 years. In general those who make a success of life here are those who have reasons for coming to France. The less successful are those who want to leave their home country for some reason. I realise that your time horizon is short - university course, but I think he same applies.

Hils is right too about the political /economic / social scene, it's bad and getting worse. Expect tensions, even fireworks, in France.

DejW


k; you've done some homework and that's good. The reason I stay to stick it out is my concern that you'd find life in France more difficult than you anticipate - I could be wrong (I have been known to be on occasion!) - it really depends upon your own character to a great extent. But I'm worried that you're fleeing the UK because of a simple cost issue which can be resolved if you look at the guide I sent the link for. You don't have long before you complete your degree, and, as you've said already, a UK degree opens doors which others can't. Subsequently, if you're set on France (or anywhere else), you'll be in a better position to consider, say, a Master's on the Erasmus or Leonardo programmes.

Yes, to some of us, taking a "loan" goes against the grain, but, in all seriousness, I think it's something worth taking up - and you'll see, it's not really a "loan" in the traditional sense.

Don't act in haste; I think the situation in France is going to change fairly soon, as the French populace/government catches up with the realities of the present economic crisis - and, bear in mind, that, at times of hardship, people cling to what they know, close ranks, and don't accept incomers easily.

hils
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you hils.

I know that the loan will be like tax that I will repay over the years, I just. . . for some reason I just can't find it acceptable that ''education has become business'' in the UK and somehow refuse to pay the 9,000GBP fee. My parents are from a very low income and I think their beliefs have affected me as well. I know I will be actually free fom paying if I earn below 21,000GBP... I'm just really torn. I don't mind that HE is not free, but here in the UK, it is just a whole amount of money and in most other European countries it is significantly less.

I just wonder whether a UK degree is worth it the money.

I set my mind on France because I have been there on holiday, I liked it, I see it through my pink sunglasses, I thought mastering the French language would be good when I want to work in international development and teaching and thought I could have a simpler seaside life there.

The news on the economic situation especially for under 25-yos scares me every every day so I try to consider the best move.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks a lot for all your replies so far. I need to think about my whole situation, I have just been glimpsing at France and checking out requirements etc just to know what options I have.

Your answers so far have given me food for thought!
 

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I do repeat; stay put ... times, they are a-changing.

I've just checked out the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Lyon, and you're right - you're looking at just over 600E, including sign-up (for the current year) and health cover, which does seem extraordinarily cheap! But - don't forget - it IS competitive entry, and that particular Ecole is in high demand.

I'd still say "stay put", let things settle down over the next year or two (Hollande isn't in the most stable of positions just now, and will bend to French will at some stage), and consider a Master's further down the line.

You know already the student "loan" isn't really a loan at all, and you start paying it back only when you're in a position to do so - and that's no bad thing, 'cos that means you're giving a leg-up to the next generation. In my terms, that's paying forward, not paying back ...

You've been in Marseille, so you know it's not really a typical "seaside" town on the Cote d'Azur; to me, it's the hive of some of the most seedy things France accommodates, and Lyon is definitely not on the seaside, but is a lovely place (mostly - apart from certain areas ;)).

Yes, you do have opportunity unparallelled, but I don't think now is the time to take advantage of it. Bide a while where you are ....

hils

PS Thanks Dej xxx
 

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FWIW you might consider improving your situation in the UK and staying at your current uni / course.

Here are my ideas, feel free to delete them as stupid. I've not had much experience of helping people with "poverty" (to be blunt), but I have had experience helping business people finding jobs after redundancy - I speak from experience of being made redundant myself.

1. Get cracking on an Excel spreadsheet to work out how much money you need over what period. (Arts students can use Excel? grin). You may need this analysis later - see below.

2. Start searching for ways of reducing expenditure and increasing revenue. Silly example, you can eat more cheaply by buying lunch off the shelves in a supermarket than eating in the uni canteen.

3. Increasing revenue.

Here are some ideas, sorry if you have already explored them.

Student bursaries, awards, etc. Many universities have funds locked away as gifts / inheritances etc. Some have stringent conditions and are difficult to administer, so they are not advertised!

Go to your Head of Dept, Director whatever and tell him / her your situation. Don't bother with secretaries, bog standard lecturers - they will give you the easy answer ..."no". The higher up the organisation two things happen a/ they are more powerful and can make things happen. b/ they are usually nice people who are happy to help.

When you know how much money you need over what period do some more sums. If you could get, say, £25 from each person, how many people would you need? Then double the number. Then go through your address books, Christmas card list, old neighbours, school chums, parents of school chums, list of family members that you hate, EVERYONE. Rehearse your sales patter to a few short sentences. Try this as an example

Hello, you know me because I am the second cousin of your sister's husband by third marriage etc etc. We last met at .....?

I am studying X at Y university, I am in my A year of a B year course. I have run out money and I am asking for a small help from everyone I know.

Two questions

-may I ask you to give me £25 to help me complete my studies?
- do you know anyone else who might be kind enough to help me?

If people say they want more info you can send them your spreadsheet!



I'm happy to help you refine the technique, but I am sure you get the drift. You need to put your pride on side, and just go for it. In the jobs situation I've had former bosses (and bosses of bosses!) contact me asking if I can help them find a job.

If you are open and honest with people you will find that many are very generous. As any door to door salesman will tell you "get used to doors slammed in your face", but most people will help if they already know you or are related to you.

DejW

Thanks a lot for all your replies so far. I need to think about my whole situation, I have just been glimpsing at France and checking out requirements etc just to know what options I have.

Your answers so far have given me food for thought!
 

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I think you should stay put for now. I am in Lyon - the nice part where hils is not allowed ( grin) - and I am quite familiar with the three universities here. Certainly the school of fine arts has a very good reputation but you should consider that all things in France have hidden costs. For example, tuition is not interpreted in the same way. There are mandatory courses that cost over and above tuition. My neice is in the law school and her tuition is 600 but the mandatory other courses cost 2300 per semester. Living in France is not cheap. It is likely the same cost as in the UK. Plus, when you transfer, you always lose something. Certain courses are not considered the equivalent and you have to repeat or take other courses. You may - read that as - are likely - to lose a year. Add it up. It is a healthy chunk of money and I seriously wonder if you would be any farther ahead financially. Certainly the choice is yours and you may consider taking a summer course in Lyon which is accepted by your university. That would be one way to test the waters. Food for thought! Cheers! MS
 

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Am I reading this right - are you starving in a garret just because you don't want to apply for your student loan???

Look at it this way. I can't imagine that tuition costs per student work out vastly different in France than in the UK - there are staff to pay, buildings to maintain etc. Not many things are cheaper in France ;). The difference is that HM Government and La Rép Fr have chosen different ways of recouping the money. If you study in France you will pay a nominal fee and the State will subsidise the rest. If you study in the UK, you will either pay back doodle squat of your loan if your degree turns out not to be a good investment in terms of procuring a good income for you in the future, or if your degree does turn out a good investment you will pay the whole lot back to make up for the poor saps (like me) who were incapable of turning a degree into money.

So, investing in a degree is arguably the safest investment you will ever make - it's almost like a money-back guarantee. That's the deal the UK has decided to offer.

The only question you need ask yourself is, If you do land a good job in the future, would you resent having to pay your loan back?

Beyond that I don't see anything to worry about. If you're happy to pay it back, and it turns out that you do, nobody could ask for more. If ultimately you never pay it back, well the UK government has budgeted for the fact that a percentage of loans will be repaid and a percentage won't. As opposed to France which has decided to part-subsidise everyone. So if you wouldn't feel guilty about taking a subsidy from France, why would you feel guilty about accepting the UK's terms?

Being at uni is supposed to be about self-development as well as getting a degree, so take your loan, study hard, join clubs and societies, do everything students can do, you won't get another chance.

That said, if you want to do a stint in France because you want to do a stint in France, it doesn't seem a bad idea to me. But don't just do it because you feel intimidated by UK funding system.
 

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Well done EuroT! Clear words with lots of common sense!

I'd like to add something, but you've said it all.

DejW
 

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That's a stunningly good appraisal, ET, and some really wise advice. Wish you were MY dad/mentor :D
 
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