Exchange opportunities for Plymouth students

Research shows that students who study abroad are more likely to achieve at a higher academic level, get a job and earn more when they graduate, are more international in their lives and show greater personal development.* 

We offer three main exchange opportunities and hope that the following information will give you a flavour of what is available. The Plymouth Global team is here to guide and support you and answer your questions. 

How study abroad works

There are two options for combining a year abroad with your degree at the University of Plymouth: study abroad and/or an optional placement year. This page is concerned with study abroad options, you can get further information on placement years from the Careers and Employability team or your Personal Tutor. 

You can choose to study abroad for one or both semesters and this will normally take place in your second year (study abroad is not available in your first or final years). You will take modules at your host that are equivalent to those you would have studied in Plymouth and your choices will be researched by you and discussed and agreed with your academic exchange advisor in advance. If your period of study abroad is optional, marks awarded by your host institution will not contribute to your final award classification which will be based on first and final year marks only.

To be accepted for an exchange you must be in good academic standing and have passed all your assessments in your first year, not having committed an academic offence, and have no outstanding debts.

The University of Plymouth offers three different types of international student exchange: 

1: Bilateral exchanges
2: Erasmus+ 
3: ISEP (International Student Exchange Program)

Our internal exchange application deadlines are:

  • 11 January for full year and semester one exchanges 
  • 17 May for semester two exchanges

Please e-mail to receive an application pack. We can also help with any questions you have, and check that you meet the eligibility criteria for exchanges. Following these application deadlines Plymouth Global will complete a selection process and nominate you to one of our partner institutions or approve your ISEP application.

Application for outgoing exchange: 2019-20

1: Bilateral exchanges

A bilateral exchange is a swap between two students. This occurs due to special partnerships that have been developed by our faculties, departments and courses with individual overseas institutions (outside of the EU). Exchanges are usually subject area specific – for example a swap between two history students.

Bilateral exchanges take place with partner institutions that we know, and know us well, and where courses in both institutions are complimentary, providing synergy.

We've put together a list of our bilateral partners to help both University of Plymouth and international exchange students get a feel of what might be available.

2: Study in Europe with Erasmus+

Erasmus+ is a student mobility programme that provides EU-funded grants to students to study or work abroad for up to a year at a partner institution in any of the member states of the EU. We have specific agreements with our partners so we usually know them and their programmes well, making for good and productive exchange opportunities for our students.

As an undergraduate or postgraduate student of the University of Plymouth, the Erasmus+ programme offers you the opportunity to study/work with our partners in a number of countries and overseas territories.

Find out more on the European Commission's website.

3. International Student Exchange Program (ISEP)

ISEP is a non-profit educational community dedicated to helping students overcome the financial and academic barriers to overseas study. You could spend your second year at one of over 300 members universities worldwide. You can find full information on how the programme works on the ISEP website.

This a list of ISEP Members.

The deadline for ISEP applications is the end of January, so if you're interested in studying under the ISEP scheme you need to make sure you consider this in the first term of your first year.  


The general principle for any type of exchange is that tuition fees at your host are not payable but you will usually be responsible for your maintenance, travel, visa and insurance costs whilst you are abroad. However, Student Finance may provide grant support towards these costs as outlined on the Student Finance website.

The university's Student Funding Unit can advise you on all aspects of student funding when you study abroad, including home tuition fee reductions, bursaries and scholarships.

Tuition Fees

Whilst you are exempt from paying tuition fees at your host university you will still be responsible for University of Plymouth tuition fees. However if you select to undertake a bilateral, ISEP or Erasmus+ exchange for a full academic year, your home tuition fee is reduced by 85% - it stays at 100% if you go for only one semester.

Maintenance Costs

For Bilateral and Erasmus+ exchanges you will have to cover your food and accommodation costs. 

For an ISEP exchange, you pay for the food and accommodation costs of the student taking your place at the University of Plymouth and, in return, get free food and accommodation at your host or a bursary to cover those costs. The value of the bursary varies from host to host but it is sufficient to cover your basic living costs. 

At Plymouth for 2019/20, the bursary is £7,156 for the full year and you will be invoiced for this amount shortly before you depart on your exchange. If you are receiving a maintenance loan from Student Finance you can use this money to cover the invoice. To do this, you must complete and return Student Finance's Course Abroad form (see below). Once they have received the form, you will then be able to ask them to pay your maintenance loan to you at the beginning of the academic year.

Notifying Student Finance

You must make sure you notify Student Finance, in June/July, of your intention to study abroad in the following year.  When you do this, they will send you a Course Abroad form which has to be filled-in by you, signed by a representative of the university, usually Plymouth Global, and sent back, by you, to Student Finance. Receipt of your completed form triggers the tuition fee reduction, access to the means-tested, enhanced maintenance loan and the availability of a travel grant, again means-tested, whereby you can claim back a significant proportion of your travel, visa and insurance costs incurred on your year abroad. 


There are no ‘admin’ charges arising from either a bilateral or an Erasmus+ exchange. If you exchange through ISEP you will pay a non-refundable application fee ($100), and a $325 placement fee when you accept a placement. If, after you have accepted a placement, you then withdraw this fee will not be refunded. You are also obliged to take out ISEP’s Health Insurance which currently costs $86 per month for individual participants. 


The following links provide possible scholarship opportunities that may help you to finance your exchange:


It is your responsibility to make sure that you have adequate and valid personal accident, liability and medical insurance cover for the duration of your exchange, including any period spent abroad before and after. The University of Plymouth is not able to provide you with accident or liability insurance, neither in relation to your exchange nor to your personal accident, liability and medical cover.

European Health Insurance Card (EHIC)

If you are exchanging in Europe, you should carry a valid, time-limited Student EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) with you for your time abroad. The Student EHIC is not an alternative to travel insurance and it is essential that you too have a valid health and travel insurance policy in place before you start your exchange. The NUS recommend Endsleigh as insurers who are familiar with students’ Erasmus insurance requirements.

Pricing Up a Year Abroad 

The opportunity to spend a year abroad as part of your studies is an exciting, potentially life changing, prospect. Understanding the expected costs before you immerse yourself in another culture can help you really make the most of your time without unnecessary money worries. This calculator from Sainsbury's Bank can help you to price up a year abroad.


Work experience with Erasmus

While studying BSc Psychology, Alan Selman took advantage of the Erasmus scheme to spend a year working as a Research Assistant at the University of Aveiro in northern Portugal.

"Taking the plane to Portulgal was pretty much the scariest moment of my whole life ... but as soon as I arrived there I was welcomed by the Erasmus crew."

In this short video Alan explains why he is really pleased to have had this opportunity to expand his horizons.

International opportunities for psychology students.