Whether you are going to study or work, there are tax points to consider.
The UK government has signed up to a target of at least 20% of students spending some time abroad as part of their studies by 2020.
That means there are increasing opportunities to travel abroad as a UK student: you might consider going abroad for some time during your studies, perhaps for an academic year as part of an arranged study placement or work scheme. You may even decide to apply to do your whole course in an international institution – there are options from full degrees to doctorate programmes. And let’s not forget those long summer vacations when you might want to do some volunteering or go on a working holiday for example.
If you are going to be working and earning income whilst you are abroad (and this will obviously depend on whether you are permitted to work in your host country!) you will need to notify HMRC and consider your UK tax situation (for example, whether you are due a UK tax refund or need to complete a tax return).
Contrary to popular belief, it is important that you are aware that there are no special rules that apply to students and that the same tax and National Insurance contributions (NIC) rules apply to students as to others working abroad.
You may also have to get to grips with tax matters in your host location.
We are only talking about earned income here – students may receive other financial support for their education, maintenance or training, for example, grants, bursaries, employer-sponsored payments (scholarship income) or gifts from parents. Typically these are not taxable – either in the UK or overseas – due to international agreements.
We will go on to look at the tax implications of some typical outward student scenarios in the examples Max, Tom and Melanie and Victoria. But first, we need to consider the basics (for example, residence and double taxation), so that we can apply them to their situations: