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    Academic aspects

    How high is the workload for ADVANCES?

    ADVANCES is a full-time Master programme and students will be expected to engage in academic work for approximately 30-35 hours each week, which includes formal teaching, small group work and independent study in the library and at home.  The workload may vary between weeks and during assessment periods.  Bear in mind that the amount and scheduling of formal teaching input offered to students does vary between universities and countries. 

    Who else will I study with?

    Approximately 21-22 students are expected to join ADVANCES programme each year.  All applicants are or have been social sector professionals in their home countries.  To give you an idea of the global diversity, previous year’s cohorts included students from Ghana, Serbia, Sri Lanka, China, India, Bangladesh, Italy, France, Portugal, Vietnam, Philippines, Poland, Greece, Armenia, Guatemala, Tanzania and Zambia.  

    Will I meet local students during the programme?

    Certainly!  First of all, we will try to match you with local social work students in each institution through a ‘buddy’ system.  Social events and occasional joint teaching events will also let you meet local students on social work and other courses.  Several of the universities involved in ADVANCES participate in other Erasmus Mundus Master programmes, making it possible to link you to members of this community.  You will be officially enrolled in all the universities you attend, so you can meet other students through various clubs, leisure facilities and extracurricular activities.  

    How will I study?

    The teaching activities are designed to promote active learning with much use of discussion, questions, problems and dilemmas.  Instead of only traditional lectures and seminars, you will also be involved in small group work, case studies, role plays and discussions to explore new issues.  Outside class, reading and research will help you to learn more about the topics.

    What types of assessment will be used?

    The assessments are designed to be part of your learning and not just a way to check your knowledge.  Both academic and practice skills will be developed through a wide range of assignments, including presentations, reflective journals, case simulations, business plans, posters and case analyses.  Please look at the assessments listed for each module for further details.   

    Are work placements included in the study programme?

    There is a 10 day placement in local social service settings during Semester 1 at Lincoln.
    You will also engage in observation and field visits/studie in the two other semesters and Summer School. Semester 4 includes 2-3 months of field studies in one or multiple sites as part of your research project, which must be focused on social work practice.


    If I successfully graduate, can I practise social work anywhere in the world? 

    The ADVANCES programme leads to an academic Master degree that is recognised by universities and employers in many countries around the world.  Like other professional subjects (e.g. medicine, nursing, psychology), the social work profession is often regulated and licensed by local or national organisations in specific countries.  You may therefore need to apply to professional accreditation bodies for official recognition of your learning and experience in the ADVANCES programme.  Such applications are generally made on an individual basis and also consider your previous employment history.  We will assist with supporting paperwork for professional recognition, but cannot guarantee that all countries will award professional status to ADVANCES graduates due to the diversity of national requirements regulating the social work profession.  A list of regulatory organisations in various countries is available here.

    Can I specialise in a particular area of social work?

    All of the ADVANCES modules seek to improve your skills as a social worker.  The focus is on cross-cutting competences, for example communication, decision-making, project development and applied research, rather than particular topics.  You therefore need to study and pass all modules in order to achieve a balanced and coherent education that advances your professional level.  There is still much scope for choice because you can pursue your own interests within each module, for example by choosing the topic of your assignments, presentations and wider reading.  The research project in Semester 4 is also an excellent way to gain deep knowledge and skills about a particular issue.  

    Are there opportunities to meet local social workers?

    One of the aims of the ADVANCES programmes is to build an international community of social workers.  This means bringing you together with local practitioners, for example through networking evenings, guest lectures and fieldtrips to social services.  We will try to match particular interests and specialisms so that you can exchange experience and ideas. 

    Can I choose where I spend Semester 4? 

    Students will be divided equally between all five ADVANCES universities for their research projects.  You will be asked about your preferred location and knowledge of languages, but the final matching will be based on the availability of supervision and fieldwork opportunities around your chosen research topic.  All students will have two supervisors, one from their ‘local’ university and another member of the ADVANCES teaching team.  Supervision arrangements and marking procedures will be alike for all students across universities.  Semester 4 finishes with a research conference and goodbye event that brings all students together.  

    Can I conduct research in my home country during Semester 4?

    No – your research project must incorporate fieldwork from your Semester 4 location so that you gain international experience of social services and can also stay in close contact with your supervisor and other students. 
    But you will be able to spend up to one month during semester 4 at one of our associated partner universities.

    How can I prepare for the programme?

    Some preliminary reading will be emailed to you in late July as informal preparation for the programme.  We will also set you an optional assignment to complete by mid-September in order to let us assess your academic English and offer appropriate support to you. 

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    Finding accommodation in a foreign country seems like a daunting task, but can usually be achieved in several days through advance planning and flexibility.  The consortium universities have dedicated support services that offer information to make your accommodation search easier.  Please note that the teams cannot find accommodation on your behalf.

    Lincoln – students starting Semester 1 in September will be offered a place in university accommodation, but can also choose to rent via the private sector.  The Student Pad database is a good place to start with finding a room privately.  Lincoln is a small town, so it is relatively easy to find accommodation and most places will be close to campus, which is located in the city centre.  

    Aalborg – the International Accommodation Office of Aalborg University will support ADVANCES students to find accommodation in the city, including the option to apply for university accommodation.   

    Lisbon – the Erasmus Office of ISCSP has long experience of supporting incoming international students to quickly and efficiently locate private-sector accommodation, including through its online accommodation listings.  

    Summer School and Research Conference – affordable university dormitory accommodation will be available to students for the Semester 2 Summer School in in Paris and Semester 4 Research Conference in Warsaw .

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    Financial aspects

    How will my scholarship be paid?

    For students receiving an Erasmus Mundus scholarship, the participation costs (tuition fees) will be transferred automatically to the ADVANCES consortium. 

    The living costs component of the scholarship will be paid each month directly to your bank account.  It takes a minimum of 2-3 weeks to obtain a bank account in most of the EU countries in the consortium.  This means that candidates starting the programme need to bring sufficient funds to live in the UK for several weeks until their bank account is established.  

    The travel costs element of scholarships will be paid at the beginning of each academic year.  European Commission rules state that these payments can only be made once students are officially enrolled in the respective university.  This means that scholarship holders must pay for their initial travel to Lincoln (United Kingdom) at the start of the programme from their own resources.  The travel-related element of the scholarship will be paid as soon as candidates have opened their UK bank account.  

    Do I need to take out insurance?

    Medical and travel insurance is included in the participation costs for ADVANCES and organised by the consortium.  Students will be provided with details of the policy in the summer before enrollment along with information about how to use medical services in the various ADVANCES countries. 

    What costs are not included in the funding package?

    Personal computers and textbooks are not included, but the libraries of ADVANCES universities have substantial textbook holdings, computers and electronic resources.  Students from outside the European Union will need to pay for their study visas and residence permits. 

    What flights and travel will I need to undertake during the programme?

    The ADVANCES programme involves considerable mobility across Europe in order to expand your academic and social experiences.  You will change location each semester and also attend summer events (Summer School at the end of Semester 2 and Research Conference at the end of the programme).  Most flights within the European Union are reasonably inexpensive if booked in advance (less than 100 Euro one-way). 

    What is the cost of living in various countries?

    Living costs vary between the various university cities you will visit during the ADVANCES course.  Costs in Lincoln, Aalborg and Nanterre (Paris) are generally much higher than Lisbon and Warsaw.  Universities have provided the following estimates as general guidance: 

    Lincoln – accommodation with utilities costs approximately GBP £325 to £480 per month, meaning that overall monthly expenses are probably GBP £800-£900 or Euro 950-£1000.  Lincoln is a small city, you are unlikely to need to use public transportation often.  For general living costs you can find useful information on how to budget on the International student calculator website.

    Aalborg – the recommended monthly budget to live in Aalborg is DKK 7500, which is approximately USD 1300 or Euro 1,000.

    Lisbon  – estimated costs are:

    • Meals: 225 €/month
    • Renting a room: 200 € to 300 €/month
    • Monthly Ticket for Public Transportation: 35 €/month
    • Entrance ticket to a Museum, National Monument: 2 €/5 €
    • Cinema ticket: 5.50 €
    • Tickets for theatre, concerts, opera or ballet performances: 20 €/75 €

    Warsaw – the recommended monthly budget is 2,000 PLN or approximately 500 Euros.

    Nanterre – approximately 1000 Euros per month, including €400-600 for accommodation, €300 for food, €50 for metro pass and additional expenses for leisure activities.  

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    Logistical matters

    Can I get in touch with other ADVANCES students before the programme starts?

    Over summer, you will receive details of the other students on the ADVANCES programme and a Facebook page will be created so you can meet each other virtually and exchange information.  In addition, many countries have an Erasmus Mundus alumni association whose representatives can offer advice and suggestions.  Please visit the website of the Erasmus Mundus Students and Alumni Association for more information. 

    Do I need to sign a contract to enrol on the ADVANCES programme?

    Each ADVANCES student needs to sign a ‘Student Agreement’ that sets out their rights and also responsibilities.  Partner Countries and each candidate will be emailed an agreement containing their specific details.  We ask you to email a signed copy to us and then to bring the original with you when you start the programme. Please email if you have any queries about the Student Agreement.  

    How will I find accommodation?

    For Semester 1 in Lincoln, students will be offered accommodation in university buildings or else can choose to rent in the private sector, which can be cheaper.  Full details will be sent to students who have confirmed their participation in the programme.  

    Moving between countries is inevitably daunting, but also a very positive experience in terms of gaining confidence and independence in unfamiliar situations.  ADVANCES students will only spend a maximum of 5-6 months in one location, which will make their accommodation search somewhat specific.  University accommodation may not be automatically available, but each ADVANCES institution can provide advice on how to find somewhere to live, including the best location and rental procedures.  In most cases, you will probably share a flat or house with local or other Erasmus students.  You may be able to arrange accommodation, view photos and organise viewings before you actually arrive in a city. 

    As background information, websites are a good place to start in terms of identifying accommodation available locally, but note that the specificity of mobility during the ADVANCES course means that not all accommodation listed will be suitable:

    Semester 1 – Lincoln – Student Pad website

    Semester 2 – Aalborg – ADVANCES students will be supported by the International Accommodation Office of Aalborg University to find accommodation.   

    Semester 3 – Lisbon – the Erasmus Office of ISCSP has long experience of supporting incoming international students to quickly and efficiently locate private-sector accommodation, including through its online accommodation listings.

    Semester 4 – Nanterre – International Office website 

    Semester 4 – Warsaw – International Relations Office

    How will I apply for my visas?

    Study visas for EU countries are subject to national legislation (even within the Schengen zone) and it will therefore be necessary to apply for a separate visa in advance of each semester of study.  Local coordinators in each university will provide information and guidance on how to apply.  Please note that the cost of the visas is not included in funding packages. 

    An official offer letter and details of applying for a ‘Student Visitor’ visa to spend Semester 1 in the United Kingdom will be sent in June to all candidates who have confirmed their participation and met all conditions of their offer (for example IELTS results or provision of all application documents). 

    When does the ADVANCES programme start?

    Students will need to arrive in Lincoln, United Kingdom, end of September. During your first week, you will complete administrative formalities to enrol on the programme, get to know Lincoln and meet each other.  The academic programme, including a series of ADVANCES induction events involving colleagues from all consortium universities, will end mid October. 

    Do I get holidays?

    Absolutely!  You will receive two weeks at Christmas and one/two weeks at Easter.  Between the first and second years of the programme, you will be free from mid-July until mid-September.   

    Do I have to attend the first-year Summer School and second-year Research Conference?

    The Summer School and Research Conference are an integral part of the ADVANCES programme and important learning events.  They will give you the opportunity to experience social work in new settings, meet a wide range of practitioners and explore new cities.  You will also meet the ADVANCES cohort in different years. Participation is therefore compulsory. 

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    Visa Support

    Students coming from outside the European Union will need to obtain study visas to take part in the ADVANCES programme. Unfortunately the Schengen system for visas within most European Union states does not cover study or other types of long-term visas and thus students need to obtain a visa or residence permit from each country where they spend a semester.  

    Generally students will obtain the UK “Tier 4 General” visa for Semester 1 studies in their countries of residency. Visas for Semesters 2, 3 and 4 can be obtained during the ADVANCES programme. 

    Full details about visa procedures will be sent to students who have confirmed attendance.  In the meantime, please consult the following websites about the visas required for the first year of study:

    UK “Tier 4 General” visa: United Kingdom Border Agency

    Danish residence permits: Danish Immigration Service

    Please note that visa-related costs are not included in the participation costs for the ADVANCES programme.