study abroad

International Student Exchange Program (ISEP)

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What is ISEP?

Essex is a member of the International Student Exchange Program (ISEP).

ISEP is a US based organisation offering alternative study abroad destinations, and a wide variety of universities which are not directly partnered with Essex Abroad.

Have you browsed our Exchange Finder but wish to study at a particular state or destination which is not available? ISEP could have a partnership for you. Their network comprises of over 200 participating universities.

ISEP explained

ISEP is an organisation which offers a wide network of exchange partners all over the world. Essex is a member of ISEP, which means that you could choose to study abroad through their programme, rather than the standard exchange programme at Essex.

If you study abroad with ISEP Exchange, you pay your tuition and fees to Essex, which opens up a spot for someone to come and learn at Essex on their exchange whilst you're abroad. You will pay Essex for the food and accommodation costs of the exchange student taking your place at Essex whilst you are abroad and, in return, get free food and accommodation at your host University (or a bursary to cover those costs). You will be invoiced for this amount shortly before you depart on your exchange.

You will still apply to study abroad through Essex Abroad (see more below).  You can choose up to 10 universities and ISEP will place you at the best option depending on exchange spaces and your academic needs. Further information about the ISEP exchange programme on their website, don't forget to check out their partner universities.

Applying through ISEP

Is ISEP for me?

Whilst we recommend all students to consider ISEP when researching and planning for studying abroad, we particularly recommend students to consider this option if:

  • You would like to study in the US but may not have a strong first year mark
  • You have a genuine interest in the US as a study abroad destination (ISEP has over 130 exchange partners in the US alone!)
  • You would like to study in a country where Essex does not currently have exchange partners
  • You would like the comfort of knowing accommodation and food is taken care of when you arrive at your host University

Important information

  • You must meet the study abroad eligibility criteria 
  • If you choose to apply through ISEP, you cannot apply through Essex Abroad's application to our partner university network
  • You must consult your university choices with your Departmental Study Abroad Officer (DSAO)
  • The ISEP application deadline is later than Essex Abroad's deadline, you must still apply to Essex Abroad's application and select the ISEP option by the Study Abroad deadline - this makes sure we have your information in our system and are aware of your plans to study through ISEP

Costs and fees

If you choose to study abroad through ISEP, you will pay a non-refundable application fee of $100, and a $425 placement fee when you accept the University you have been offered. You may also be obliged to take out ISEP’s Health Insurance which currently costs $27 per week (approx. $115 per month) for individual participants. If, after you have accepted the offer, you then decide to withdraw this fee will not be refunded.

ISEP offer a number of scholarships which you must apply for directly. You can find out more on the ISEP scholarship webpages.

Here's a handy table detailing the fees and costs for 2024-2025 (for 2025-2026 you can expect up to a 10% increase)

Fee Type Amount Information and Refund Policy
ISEP Exchange Application Fee US $100 When applying for ISEP Exchange, a non-refundable application fee of US $100 is due with your application
ISEP Exchange Placement Fee US $425 This non-refundable fee is due at the time when you accept your placement. This fee covers the cost of customized matching and placement conducted by ISEP staff.
ISEP Exchange Program Fee (for a full year or term) £9,538.86 for the full year and £3,021.12 for one term (Autumn Term).
This fee is paid directly to Essex and is based on the cost of living at Essex. It covers housing, 20 meals per week, pre-departure orientation, arrival orientation and general student services at your host institution. This must be paid to Essex by 30 June 2024.
ISEP Exchange Placement Extension Fee US $100 Payable if you decide to extend your ISEP Exchange placement from a semester to a full-year placement. The fee should be submitted with our request for extension documentation, which can be found in your student portal.
Academic Training Processing Fee (for J-1 visa students only) US $150

Payable if you decide to participate in Academic Training. The fee is submitted with your request for a J-1 Academic Training Authorisation Form.

Requests received by ISEP Central 2 weeks prior to the end date on the DS-2019 or 2 weeks prior to the start date of your employment, whichever is sooner, will incur a $100 processing fee. Requests received between 1 and 2 weeks prior to the end date on the DS- 2019 or 1 to 2 weeks prior to the start date of your employment, whichever is sooner, will incur a $150 processing fee. Applications received within 1 week of the deadlines stated above will not be processed.

How to apply

  1. Make a study abroad application on the Essex Abroad online portal and select 'ISEP Exchange' as your first and only choice by the Essex Abroad deadline of 11 January 2023.
  2. Visit the ISEP website
  3. Create an account and continue with your application on ISEP website
  4. Select your home university as University of Essex and apply for up to 10 universities abroad through the ISEP Exchange programme

The deadline to apply for ISEP for studying abroad is 1 March each year.  You must have already applied through Essex Abroad to be eligible to apply for ISEP (please note the Essex Abroad application deadline is 11 January 2023).

More information about the ISEP Exchange programme, the cost and fees is on ISEP Exchange website

Refund guidance

In preparation of your travels, Essex Abroad will issue you with an invoice, which will detail the costs of your ISEP meal plan and accommodation fees. You are required to pay for accommodation and a meal plan at your home institution in order to be eligible for your ISEP Exchange. If you do not make this payment by the stated deadline, you will not be eligible to complete your exchange.

Should you decide to withdraw from your ISEP year abroad, please read our policy on refunds below.

Before you have paid your invoice

If you decide to withdraw from your ISEP Exchange before making a payment against your invoice, you will not be charged any of the required fees by Essex Abroad (meal plan and accommodation). This policy does not apply to the fees that you have already paid to ISEP directly. For information on the ISEP withdrawal and refund policies please refer to their website.

After you have paid your invoice

If you have paid your accommodation and meal plan fees, and decide to withdraw from your ISEP Exchange, you will not be entitled to a refund. Refunds will only be considered in line with the University of Essex’s Compensation and Refund Policy (.pdf), which states (Section 8): “In all cases, where the University is able to provide continuity of study leading to a University of Essex Award, the University will not normally refund any tuition or other fees, or offer any compensation, except where there are exceptional circumstances.”

In the case of exceptional circumstances, each refund request will be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you wish to make a case for exceptional circumstances, please submit a request to, including supporting evidence.

ISEP contacts

ISEP have various advisors to guide you through the process from application to arriving in your host country.

Contact your ISEP study abroad advisor

A student stands in a mountainous area in USA
Get in touch
Essex Abroad You can visit us in person at our office on Square 2, Colchester campus. Opening hours are below. If you are based at Southend campus or want to chat to us outside of these times, then book a remote call using the link below.
Monday - 11.00am to 1.00pm, Tuesday - 11.00am to 1.00pm and 2pm to 3pm, Wednesday - CLOSED, Thursday 11.00am to 1.00pm and 2pm to 3pm, Fridays -11.00am to 1.00pm and 2pm to 3pm.
Telephone: 01206 872632