Author:
Mart Noorkõiv

Paper work for study abroad

Upon planning studies at a foreign university as an exchange student, you should bear in mind that it remains part of your studies here, i.e. studies at the University of Tartu do not stop and your performance at the foreign university affects the completion of your curriculum as well as your academic achievement. The rules are applicable to all UT students who go to study abroad - for students who study at a foreign university within a student exchange programme or an agreement as well as to students who go there on their own.

  • If you go to study abroad, you must complete at least 15 ECTS of courses (except PhD students) at the foreign university per semester and apply for credit transfer so that the courses are taken into account upon completing your curriculum. This means that the 15 ECTS is the absolute minimum requirement while studying at the foreign university. When studying abroad, credits must be completed at the same pace as at the home university. If you have fulfilled the University of Tartu curriculum in the prescribed amount before going abroad (i.e. not more than required), and you are studying abroad only in the minimum amount, then there is a risk of losing scholarships at the University of Tartu which require the completion of 30 ECTS credits per semester.
  • If you go to traineeship abroad there is no minimum or maxium credit points requirements, but it is possible to get extention of your nominal studies only in case your traineeship course gives at least 15 ECTS of your curriculum at UT.
  • As of January 1st 2016, all the grades acquired at the foreign university will be transferred as non-differentiated (pass).
  • Before going to study abroad, you have to draw up a study plan and sign a learning agreement. Once you have completed your studies at the foreign university, you will have to complete the second part of the study plan on the basis of a transcript of records.
  • Ask the foreign university to issue your transcript of records as soon as possible after the results of examinations are out to make sure that the results can be submitted to the academic unit (institute/college/school) on time.

Study abroad is regulated by the Study Regulations

There is a mobility window planned in the curricula of UT I and II levels of study. This mobility window is not a separate module that is added to the exiting modules within a curriculum, but rather it is a suggestion which  module or set of subjects, incl. internship, could a student pass while studying abroad if they wish to do so. Therefore, a mobility window is part of the curriculum which is advisable to pass at a foreign university and which has been designed so that studies at UT will not extend due to studying abroad.

Different curricula have designed their study abroad suggestions within their mobility window differently. It is best to check in SIS how studying abroad has been planned in your curriculum, i.e. whether it is suggested that the elective module/compulsory subjects or optional courses are to be passed at a foreign university. More detailed description of a particular mobility window is probably available on the faculty's/institute's website.

 

  • The nominal period of study at UT will be extended by the number of semesters spent abroad, provided that at least 15 ECTS of courses completed abroad are taken into account upon completing the UT curriculum. 
  • The nominal period of study will be extended at the beginning of the semester following your studies abroad (after the end of the period of studying abroad specified in the Study Information System).
  • You do not need to submit a separate application for the extension of the nominal period of study, but you have to make sure that the transcript of records reaches the UT as soon as possible. Submit the study results and/or training records within eight weeks after the end of the period of studying abroad. If you fail to obtain the records from the foreign university or place of traineeship within eight weeks, contact the respective academic unit to explain the situation.
  • The extension of the nominal period of study will be cancelled if you completed less than 15 ECTS of courses per semester at the foreign university.
  • For students who have taken up studies abroad during the semester of extension of the standard period of study, during the semester of academic leave, the standard period of study is not extended by the semesters the student studied at the foreign higher education institution.
  • Students completing traineeship abroad can request the semester of extension only in case they have completed traineeship course worth at least 15 ECTS.

When applying for the national study allowances or stipends, study results from abroad (transcript of records) must reach UT (respective academic unit) and be inserted to SIS earlier than the first day of the UT semester when you apply to allowances/stipends. Follow the UT's academic calendar, to assure that you know the dates when a semester begins. If you have fulfilled the University of Tartu curriculum in the prescribed amount before going abroad (i.e. not more than required), and you are studying abroad only in the minimum amount, then there is a risk of losing scholarships at the University of Tartu which require the completion of 30 ECTS credits per semester.

 

  • You can take academic leave at the start of the semester following the semester abroad. In this case the nominal period of study will not be automatically extended by the period of studying abroad and you need to submit a separate application for that.
  • If you take academic leave during the extension period, then the extension period will not continue after academic leave any more.
  • If you study abroad during the extended period of study, your nominal study period will not be extended any longer by the time spent studying abroad. Note, there are two types of extension: 1) extension given for study abroad (right after a study abroad semester) and 2) regular extension (at the end of studies). If you study abroad during either of the two extensions, further extensions of studies will not be granted. Furthermore, it is not advisable to go to study abroad in the last semester, as the study results from the foreign university might not reach the UT on time, which would mean that your graduation has to be postponed.
  • If you study abroad on the last semester of your nominal period of studies, with the intent to extend the studies, the extension of the nominal period will be granted only if there is some time left until the nominal period of studies. Like stated above, the extension will be given at the start of the next semester. E.g. if the nominal period (seen in Study Information System) ends July 20th, you will not get the extension, since the nominal period of studies ends before the new semester begins in September.
  • Since students can take courses during academic leave, they can also study abroad during their academic leave. Still, the standard period of study at UT will not be extended by the semesters studied abroad during academic leave because academic leave is not a part of the standard period of study.

Tuition-waiver scholarship holders or students enrolled at Estonian-taught programmes

You do not have to pay tuition fee at UT for the time to be spent studying abroad. Yet, please note what follows after studies abroad:

  • If you studied at a foreign university  and could transfer at least 15 ECTS of courses to your UT curriculum, you get an extra semester (extension) to complete your studies. At the end of the semester following the study abroad semester (that is at the end of the extension semester), the university checks study progress and if there are more than 6 credits missing from the required workload, you are expected to pay for the missing credits. In the case of missing credits, you are invoiced at the beginning of the second semester following the study abroad semester.
  • If you studied two semesters at a foreign university and could transfer at least 30 ECTS of courses to your UT curriculum (15 ECTS for each semester), you get two extra semesters (extensions) to complete your studies. At the end of the second semester following the study abroad (that is at the end of the second extension semester), the university checks study progress and if there are more than 6 credits missing from the required workload, you are expected to pay for the missing credits. In the case of missing credits, you are invoiced at the beginning of the third semester following the study abroad semester.

Thus, if it is not possible to use the courses completed at a foreign university to complete the UT curriculum to the presumed extent (15 ECTS and more), it will be necessary to complete more courses in the semester following the studies abroad in order to avoid the need to pay the tuition fee in the following semesters.

Students enrolled in English-taught programmes without a tuition-waiver scholarship or enrolled part time at Estonian-taught programmes (excluding PhD students)
Generally, you do not have to pay tuition fee at UT, yet you need to pay 30-% of each credit point price you transfer from abroad to UT. You do not have to pay 30% of the tuition at UT, if you had to pay the tuition fee at the foreign university.
If you study at UT during the period when you are registered as a study abroad student (that is - take courses both from UT and a higher education institution abroad) then, in addition to the fee to be paid for the courses completed abroad, you are required to pay for UT courses (full price of credit points). Please see full regulation here: Conditions of Reimbursement of Study Costs in Degree Study.

  • If you have received a scholarship from the UT for your studies abroad, but fail to complete the required number of courses, you may be required to repay the scholarship. Make sure to check the rules of the particular student exchange programme.
  • The extension of the nominal period of study will be cancelled if you completed less than 15 ECTS of courses per semester at the foreign university.

Various structural units attend to matters and documentation regarding studies at the university. To get a quick overview, see whom to contact.


 

All international students who are planning to study abroad are obliged to check upon the following items before applying:

  • if you have received a grant/scholarship either by UT or the Archimedes Foundation (such as ESF DoRa), make sure  under which circumstances you can study abroad, meaning whether you can maintain your existing scholarship also for your study abroad period or you need to cancel the one which has been granted to supprt your studies at UT;
  • if you are applying for two scholarships, make sure whether you are allowed to apply for both of them (meaning to apply at the same time)  and whether these can be used simultaneously;
  • in any case, please read through all the materials which describe the terms and conditions of your current and future scholarship.

Living arrangements

As you prepare to go abroad, you need to make sure that you have a health care plan that provides sufficient coverage and is valid in your destination country. Depending on your citizenship and the country where you will be studying, you may also need to apply for a visa, obtain a residence permit, or register your residence. Finally, you should also familiarise yourself with the overall state of affairs in your destination country and think about how to stay safe.

Learn about health insurance options and requirements:

We recommend considering travel insurance in addition to health insurance, which would provide additional protection, for example, in the case of an accident, as the health insurance card may not cover all expenses. Students heading outside the EU should definitely ensure that the selected insurance complies with the visa requirements of the destination country.

For students heading for internships, we recommend taking out additional liability insurance.

Make sure that you have all your necessary medications, prescriptions, and immunizations you will need for your entire time abroad. If possible, bring one month worth of extra medications in case of an emergency. Some medications that are legal in Estonia, may not be legal in your host country so it is always important to check. Take all medications with you in the original containers. Consult with your doctor about any medical issues.

I EU students (citizens of EU countries or persons with permanent right of residence in an EU country)

  • if you will be studying in an EU country, ask your receiving university whether and how you should register your right of residence as soon as you have started your studies. If the receiving university has sent you specific guidelines, follow these;
  • if you will be studying in a non-EU country, ask for visa and/or residence permit information from the representation of the corresponding country in Estonia or in your home country.  Make sure that this is done before the beginning of studies. If the receiving university has sent you specific guidelines, follow these.

II Non-EU students (students who require a residence permit to study in Estonia)

  • Right after you have received a letter of admission from the receiving university, contact the representation of the corresponding country in Estonia or in your home country to get information regarding visas and/or residence permits. You should also consult the receiving university and if the receiving university sends you guidelines, follow these.
  • All non EU/EEA nationals who want to study or perform research activities in another EU member state do not need to apply for a residence permit for the second member state for a stay up to 360 days, but not longer than their current residence permit is valid.  Thus, the UT students studying in another EU member state in the next academic year, please make sure:
  1. Your Estonian TRP for studies is valid throughout your study abroad period. However, though your studies at UT get extended due to study abroad, TRP for studies does not get extended for having studied abroad.  Please see info on using the 270 day extension and D visa here
  2. Ask your host institution to confirm that your Estonian TRP allows you to study in that country for the whole period foreseen by your mobility programme.
  • Bring yourself up to speed about the overall situation in your destination country and city;
  • Find out about any regional/city-specific safety recommendations;
  • Keep in touch with your friends and relatives on a regular basis;
  • Check the website of your home country's foreign ministry/foreign office to see whether it provides any specific safety recommendations for your destination. You can also visit the Estonian Ministry of Foreign Affairs' ReisiTargalt page (in Estonian);
  • Contact your home country's nearest embassy or consulate if you have any issues.
  • Look up your host country’s emergency numbers before departure and write them down where you can easily access them in an urgent situation.

We also recommend to use Erasmus Play to find the accommodation. It is an international student housing platform that helps you to find your new home. 

It is a good idea to bring more than one form of payment with you in case of an emergency.
Notify your bank and credit card company if you plan to use your card or access your account from abroad.
Find out if you will need to open a bank account abroad. Make sure you have a required documentation and materials to do so. Your host institute will be able to advise you on this.
Budget

Don’t forget to consider other financial responsibilities you will have beyond study costs (rent, travel, groceries, excursions, fees, shopping, social activities, etc.) Research the cost of living in your host country as it may be significantly different than in Tartu. Many universities will have a sample budget for reference, such as UT has for incoming students. Using sites like Expatistan or Numbeo may help give you a sense of the cost of living. For more accurate information, contact your host institution.

Depending on your host country and the type of visa you are on, you may be allowed to work. Terms of employment can vary greatly from not being allowed to work at all to hours or salary constrictions.  Contact your host institutions or visa sponsor for the most accurate information. Violating the terms of your visa can jeopardize your right to stay in your host country.

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