Semester abroad as freemover - definition, advantages & disadvantages

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What is a Freemover?

What is a Freemover?

Studying abroad is more popular than ever. According to the Federal Statistical Office, about 2016 145.000 students have studied German students outside of Germany - and the number is rising. For the term semester abroad, most probably think automatically Erasmus, the support program for stays abroad of the European Union. Besides Erasmus, there are other opportunities to spend one or more semesters abroad.

While one is limited to European Union countries through the Erasmus program, one has as freemover the free choice between countless universities worldwide, This flexibility is the big advantage of a free remover. However, there are also some disadvantages that you should be aware of before you conquer the world. All information about Freemover can be found in this post.

Number of German students abroad up to 2016 (according to Statistisches Budesamt)

Defintion Freemover

Free-movers or free movers are students who study overseas outside of existing student mobility programs (such as Erasmus). Freemover are so independent of existing exchange or partner agreements of your own university.

What is a Freemover?
As a freemover you have the free choice between universities all over the world

Funding opportunities for freemover


Freemover can no funding through the popular Erasmus program the EU. Nevertheless, there are various possibilities for a financial support of a study abroad as a freemover. For example, you can BAföG apply. One Request can be worthwhile hereif you have no claim to BAföG in Germany.

All conditions and information about the foreign BAföG you will find in our
Auslands-BAföG FAQ

Auslands-BAföG FAQ
Auslands-BAföG is the most popular method of financing study abroad

PROMOS scholarship

Another possibility is that PROMOS scholarship of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The PROMOS scholarship is a financial support for international study abroad abroad in the amount of about 300 Euro per month. Apply for this scholarship through the International Office of your university.

Educational loan for semester abroad

If none of these funding options are suitable for you, perhaps the inclusion of a education loan a sensible alternative for financial relief be. This is granted regardless of the income of the parents and can z. B. to finance the accruing tuition fee abroad as a total be paid.

All information about taking a credit for your semester abroad you get in our Blog.

Tip: do not forget the Learning Agreement!

Before starting You should definitely enter your semester abroad Learning Agreement create, if you services provided abroad for your studies in Germany count want to let. The Learning Agreement includes all courses that you take at the university abroad and want to credit for your actual studies. The document should be from responsible Degree Program Director or International Coordinator of your Faculty become. By doing so you put the recognition the courses taken abroad on yours Home school Sich.

Learning Agreement semester abroad
The Learning Agreement should be prepared before any semester abroad, whether as a freemover or with Erasmus & Co.

Semester abroad as freemover or via partner university?

As you know, many roads lead to Rome - or in this case just to the semester abroad. Below we would like to introduce you to the two most common variants for the organization of a semester abroad and to weigh their advantages and disadvantages.

1. The exchange program of your university

This is probably the most popular option for students to organize a semester abroad. Here you usually apply through the exchange program of your own university (eg Erasmus +) at the appropriate partner universities.


  • Simple, standardized application process
  • Extensive support from the International Office of the university
  • As a rule, no tuition fees at the partner university
  • Recognition of benefits abroad for study often easily possible
  • Reports of former students abroad at their own university
Semester abroad New Zealand
As a freemover you have the choice between universities around the world.


  • Selection of partner universities (depending on home institution) often limited
  • Long lead time for application process (usually more than 6 months)
  • Hardly any chances to study abroad for semester abroad for "spontaneous"
  • Places at partner universities often limited
  • Competition for places at popular partner universities

2. Study as a freemover abroad

The biggest advantage of a free remover is the independence of existing exchange and cooperation agreements of the own university as well as the numerous options of universities worldwide. Unfortunately, there are also some disadvantages that must be considered in the semester abroad as a freemover. These include above all tuition fees at the Wunschuni and the high temporal and organizational effort for the preparation of the stay abroad. The most important advantages and disadvantages of a semester abroad as freemover are summarized here for you.


  • Free choice of colleges around the world and thus innumerable possibilities
  • No restriction at partner universities of your own university
  • Often shorter lead times for application and organization
  • Higher chances for commitment at the desired university


  • Tuition fees at the desired university
  • Usually more effort to clarify the eligibility of courses abroad
  • Higher (time) effort for information gathering, planning, application and organization


If you do not find a suitable partner university at your home university, all places are already occupied or you have missed the application deadlines, it can make sense to go as a freemover to the semester abroad.

Often, the financial aspect holds students from a semester abroad as freemovers. In contrast to Germany, many universities abroad require considerable tuition fees. These can quickly amount to several thousand euros per semester. In addition, of course, there are the travel and living expenses of the respective Wunschlandes.

Fortunately, there are various ways to finance study abroad, such as: B. BAföG, Scholarships or education loans. All information about this can be found in the corresponding articles for the financing of semester abroad in our Blog.

If the effort for organizing a semester abroad on your own is too high, there is the possibility of the service so-called Study Abroad Organizations to use. These usually act as mediators between students and the corresponding desired university abroad. This often simplifies the search for information and the application process significantly and reduces the overall planning effort.


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