Study and Work Away Service

Selection criteria

What are the main selection criteria for participation in our exchange programmes?

Our exchange programmes are competitive. The volume and quality of applications received varies from year to year.  An exchange place is not guaranteed for any student, even if all minimum requirements are met or exceeded. 

For these reasons, it is impossible to provide categorical advice on how to be successful in obtaining an exchange place.  However, hopefully the following provides some guidance to help you submit the best application you can. 

Applications are considered on the basis of the following criteria:

  • your academic record
  • your personal statement
  • your linguistic suitability

Academic record

Only first year grades are normally taken into account. This is because the exchange application process takes place in Semester 1 of your second year. 

When assessing applications, the demand for particular places and the overall suitability of candidates is taken into account, so there is not necessarily a minimum grade requirement.

Some Schools have additional criteria so it is advised that applicants check with their Exchange Coordinator before applying.

Personal statement

As part of your application, you will be required to submit a personal statement. This gives you the opportunity to:

  • outline your academic motivation for applying
  • explain why your qualities would make you a good representative for the University of Edinburgh
  • explain how the opportunity would benefit you personally

You should focus on your first-choice destination and give equal weighting to each point. Keep in mind that an exchange is an academic programme and your statement should reflect this.

Your personal statement will not be sent to the host institution – it is for internal selection use only.

Linguistic suitability

You must ensure you check the language of teaching at your proposed host institution(s), and only apply for those for which you have the required language skills.

For study at a host university where the language of instruction will not be English, participants must provide evidence that they have reached B2 level on the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) in the language of instruction.

In the absence of evidence, participants will be required to take a free language test at the Centre for Open Learning in March or April. This will be arranged by SWAY, who will contact affected students directly.

 Students undertaking a language test must achieve at least B2 level to be able to take up their exchange place. Those not achieving B2 level at the time of testing will not be able to proceed with their exchange.

Students studying a language as a named part of their degree are exempt from providing evidence of language level and from taking the assessment.

Added value for the student

In addition, particular consideration will be given to applicants who may be expected to benefit most significantly from the opportunities provided by an exchange period, and who may not previously have had access to similar opportunities.