Many students have the feeling that it would be fun to study abroad for a while, without thinking in more detail. By addressing three details, planning your exchange can start: Language, subject, and timing of your exchange.
General criteria for student exchange:
The election criteria may vary for different programs, but some basic criteria are the same for all programs:
- You should have good knowledge of your subject before going abroad to study it.
- Studies abroad must be included in your degree at ÅA either as subject studies, in-depth studies or as an additional subject. Some studies can be included in your “free-choice studies”.
- The studies you conduct abroad must amount to 30 ECTS / semester (if you declare fewer than 20 ECTS you will be required to pay back your scholarship)
- A study plan, which includes how the courses you study while abroad, will be included in your degree at ÅA is already required at the application stage. This should be signed by your academic coordinator.
- In order to be able to study in a country, you should in some cases, be able to speak the language of that country well, i.e. passed level 3 in the language (B2 in CEFR). Completed language courses can be found in Peppi and CEFR certificates.
- You follow the agreed study plan whilst on exchange and report any course changes to your academic coordinator of your subject.
- You organize any necessary insurances yourself.
- If you cancel or finish your studies abroad, you will be required to refund all or part of your scholarship back.
- You will write an evaluation of your studies after returning home.
Where you can go to study abroad usually depends on the languages you can speak. In order to study in a foreign language, you must be able to speak the language well! But you should not automatically exclude all non-English speaking countries because you can’t speak any other language that English; several countries in Europe and Asia offer courses in English. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile acquiring good knowledge in another language other than English, since the opportunities of studying abroad increase if you can speak another language. Many universities offer intensive language courses before the semester begins.
Åbo Akademi has determined that students should have studied to at least level 3 in the language that they will study in during the exchange period. A CEFR certificate of the relevant language should be attached in the application. The certificate is obtained from the Centre for Languages and Communication. Special tests are also held and more information about test dates can be found on the Language Centre’s website.
Another aspect to consider when you choose which country or university you want to study your exchange at is your subject. When considering topics you should keep in mind that what you study on your exchange, should be included in your degree at ÅA: For example, you can specialize in a subject that is not available at ÅA. You can also study a specific problem that is related to a particular country or study a topic that is not available at ÅA.
To find out what you can study and where you can:
- Look at the university’s website
- Talk to teachers and professors at ÅA
- Talk to students who have studied the same topic on exchange
Remember that studies are often structured differently in other countries. The courses may be composed of larger blocks, a subject can belong to different faculty that at ÅA, or your subject may not exist as an individual subject. Subjects may also have a different focus, be more theoretical or more practical, than those at ÅA. Please feel free to join the Facebook Group for ÅA students currently on exchange, to enable you to get in contact with other students who have experiences from the same university/country that you are interested in.
Time of studies
Scholarship are given to students who study on exchange for one semester or an entire academic year. A longer period abroad provides better opportunities to adapt to the study system and provides deeper insights into the host country. It should be kept in mind that study semesters in other countries often have different start and end times than in Finland. In many European countries, the autumn semester starts in early October and ends in January, while the spring term can begin in February or April and end in June or July. It is usually easier to find accommodation in the host country during the spring semester.
The application for exchange is done in two steps:
Step 1: You complete ÅA’s online application for exchange studies abroad. This application is made in the SoleMove system. If the application meets the criteria and the vacancies available in the host university, then Åbo Akademi will nominate you for an exchange at that University.
As early as the first application in ÅA’s online application system, you must already have a detailed study plan created for each alternative university you are applying for exchange at. A prerequisite for receiving a scholarship is that you study full time and the equivalent to 30 ECTS / semester. If you study less than 20 ECTS per semester, you will be required to repay the scholarship.
Once you have been accepted to study abroad, you must apply for your scholarship in the scholarship application system SoleGrant via our online application platform SoleMove. (SoleGrant can be fount in the red bar at the top of the application platform) All funds are granted on equal grounds.
Step 2: You should complete the host university’s own application form. After you have been nominated by Åbo Akademi to the university you applied to, you will receive information directly from the host university about which forms you will need to fill out. Applicants who wish to apply within the ISEP program need to complete the ÅA application and the ISEP application at the same time.
Tips for writing a motivation letter
Students who have applied to go on exchange outside of Europe or within the ISEP program will need to write a motivation letter.
Language Proficiency Test (for some universities in ISEP and Osaka University, Japan)
Credit transfers of your studies to ÅA
A statement of credit transfer is signed by a professor, subject manager or equivalent before your exchange begins. A statement of credit transfer shows how the studies you complete while you are on exchange, will be included in your degree at ÅA, If you intend to study an entire sub-topic that is not available at ÅA, the Dean of the Faculty will approve the sub-topic.
Remember to contact the person who signed your statement of credit transfer if there are any changes to your study plan. For credit transfers of language skills within ÅA’s compulsory language studies, the Centre for Languages and Communication should be contacted.
The decision of the nomination and the scholarship of an exchange is made by the International Affairs team, in the application portal SoleMove. Decision on admission as well as practical information (among other things about accommodation), are made by the host university.
Payment of the scholarship is made at the beginning of the stay abroad (August / September or December) to a Finnish bank account, provided that you have applied for the scholarship in SoleGrant (part of SoleMove). In order to have the scholarship paid into your account, you must fist sign a scholarship agreement. After returning home, an account is made in the form of a detailed report.