Potential Problems and Solutions For International Students

Travelling abroad can be an exciting and life-changing event in one’s life. The opportunity to study in another country is a unique and fulfilling experience, both academically and personally. The percentage of international students in universities is rising steadily each year. Although an international study opportunity is a rare adventure, there are several problems international students can face when attending school in a foreign country. International students should be aware of the potential problems and be prepared in advance to successfully solve anything that comes their way.

The biggest problem international students face today is financial challenges. It is expensive to travel to a foreign country to study. In most cases there are no opportunities for scholarships or sponsor assistance. Most programs allow students to work part-time, however in most countries it will be extremely difficult for international students to find work. In addition, international students are typically not allowed to participate in any foreign country’s welfare or government financial assistance programs. International students with families are often permitted to bring them along as their dependents.

This can create enormous financial problems for the student as their family can only accompany them if they have previous funds to maintain themselves during their stay. The student’s spouse should not need to work during the stay to maintain basic needs. If it seems the family is not financially secure enough to maintain themselves, they will not be permitted to enter the country. Although this is the main rule of international student spouse employment, there are situations in which employment rights can be granted based on length of stay.

One specific financial burden international students often face is health care costs. There is no guarantee an international student will be healthy for their entire stay. Some countries offer health care options depending on the student’s length of stay. The UK offers services from the National Health Service for students who have a stay of six months or longer. This free health care option also applies to the student’s family. International students face several financial problems, however there are solutions. The best thing a student can do before their initial travel is to put aside money for their expenses.

Most universities provide prospective international students will fee estimates that include average utility and grocery costs as well as academic expenses. It is wise for students to bring at least fifteen percent more than you expect to use during the stay. This emergency fund can be helpful in case of inflation or other unexpected costs. For students who do not qualify for the foreign country’s healthcare programs, travel insurance is something they should consider. Students should not assume health insurance used in their home country would cover any unexpected health care costs in the foreign country.

Most travel insurance can be purchased according to the length of stay. Being prepared for the unexpected is the one task every international student should make priority. Creating an emergency savings fund is an excellent way for the student to ensure their financial and personal safety during their stay. In addition to a savings fund, students should remember to research health care options for their stay as well. International study opportunities are priceless in academic and personal worth, however without proper preparation they can be extremely expensive and can create an unnecessary financial burden for the student and their family.


Porter, Darwin. Frommer’s Italy 2005. 2004. Wiley Publishing, Inc.

UKCOSA Guidance Notes. 2005. http://www.ukcosa.org.uk/pages/guidenote.htm (11 May 2005).


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