Choosing a program to study on exchange overseas

Choosing a university

The University of Sydney has close to 300 formal student exchange agreements with universities in 35 countries all over the world that cover different academic disciplines and languages. The are outlined in the University Partner list. This list will clearly indicate which partnerships are available for exchange during this semester and outline important conditions and restrictions that may apply at various partner destinations. If you are planning for a future exchange, you should ensure you collect the updated partner university list for the applicable semester to ensure you only apply for available destinations.

Many options are available in English in countries other than Canada, the United Kingdom, and the USA. In Europe, partners in Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and The Netherlands teach a wide range of courses in English. In Asia, Singapore and Hong Kong also teach primarily in English. Programs for language majors are available in many countries around the world. For example, French majors could study in France, Switzerland or Canada. Some partnerships are also specific to certain disciplines, such as Law or Business.

While we have many university partnerships, exchange places may not be available at all destinations every semester. The availability of places may depend on deadlines specified by the partner university. Some universities only have one deadline per year and thus are only open for applications once a year. Places may also depend on the balance of students exchanged in past semesters and whether places are available for future students. Where the University of Sydney has sent more students to a partner university than we have received, we may temporarily suspend exchanges to this partner university until the imbalance has been rectified. There is no guarantee that an agreement that has been suspended in one semester will re-open the next semester.

In choosing the right host university for your exchange, you should allow yourself between 9 and 12 months prior to the commencement of the overseas semester to do your research and planning. The most suitable destination may not always be the most obvious and you will gain the most from your experience if you make well-informed decisions about your destination preferences. Cast a wide net and research the possibilities thoroughly before settling on your main preferences (you will need to give your top five preferences on the International Exchange Program Main Application Form). Consider such factors as:

  • language of instruction;
  • availability of suitable and creditable courses;
  • reputation of the host university;
  • lifestyle and campus location;
  • personal, academic, recreational and other interests;
  • whether you study at postgraduate or undergraduate level;
  • matching your exchange trip to the overseas academic year;
  • competition for exchange places;
  • how much it will cost; and
  • scholarships and loans.

You are advised to undertake preliminary research and attend ar least one Topical Information Session during semester.

Choosing the academic aspects of your program

Course handbooks and other general information for University-wide agreements can be found in the Exchange Resource Library at International Services. Alternatively, similar information can be found on the internet on the home pages of the host universities.

The final decision about an appropriate academic program is one that you must make in consultation with your course or year coordinator and the faculty. To assist your academic advisers with this process, you should do the following:

  • identify the normal full-time load at the host university (e.g. 30 ECTS is the normal study load per semester at most European universities);
  • obtain course descriptions and/or outlines;
  • identify the number of contact hours for a given course;
  • identify the assessment requirements; and
  • prepare a short-list of potential courses at the host university for your adviser to consider.

You may also like to discuss your plans with this adviser or other members of the department as they may have useful suggestions and recommendations.

Additional sources of information to help you choose

Progress Reports
Progress Reports completed by past University of Sydney exchange students are available at International Services to provide you with a first-hand experience of the exchange experience. These are organised by country and exchange institution.

Exchange students
Talk to students at the University of Sydney on exchange from overseas or to Sydney students who are currently on exchange or who have just returned. Email addresses are available from the Study Abroad and Exchange Programs Unit.

Conditions on choosing programs

The University of Sydney aims to provide accurate program information at all times, however, we reserve the right to temporarily suspend programs or not renew agreements without prior notice. In the event of this, your Exchange Adviser will assist in the placement of exchange applicants at other suitable destinations.

New programs may also be added from time to time. You are advised to double check destination availability, program conditions and other eligibility and selection criteria with an Exchange Adviser before proceeding with your application.