Carla Stanton, International Manager of UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service), sets out her top 10 pointers on why the UK remains a great study destination:
ONE: British higher education and qualifications have an impressive international reputation, with students in the United Kingdom encouraged to develop their potential while enjoying a full social life.
TWO: It’s easy to research the right course for you by visiting the UCAS website. Everyone who goes to UCAS.com has access to the Course Search database containing details of around 38,000 courses from archaeology to zoology.
THREE: Students who register are guided, step-by-step, through the process and use the online application system, Apply. It’s not too late to apply this year – UCAS will still send applications to universities and colleges up until June 30.
FOUR: Studying in the UK will help you develop excellent language skills. The English language is of crucial importance in today’s global business arena. (Most UK universities offer language support to international students but institutions have their own criteria for the level of English that students need to master.)
FIVE: You’ll be in good company. The UK has a long history of welcoming international students to study in its universities and colleges. In Britain last year there were 1.8 million full-time undergraduate students in higher education, which included over 104,000 international students.
SIX: UK universities are inspected regularly to ensure that they uphold the high standards of teaching, learning and research set by the Government. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) is the key body charged with maintaining these standards.
SEVEN: The cultural diversity of life in British higher education is unrivalled. From cosmopolitan cities like London, Cardiff, Belfast and Glasgow, to historic counties like Warwickshire and Yorkshire, the UK is a place of contrasts and culture, where ancient buildings sit alongside contemporary architecture.
EIGHT: Undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the UK tend to be shorter than in other countries which can help to keep the cost of tuition fees and living expenses down. Most undergraduate courses take three years to complete, although in Scotland it would be typically four years and postgraduate courses can be from one year upwards.
NINE: Typically, international students are allowed to work for up to 20 hours a week during term time and full-time during holidays. If you are from an EU country, there will be even more flexibility. Full details about the conditions for working are on the UK Border Agency website and also on the UKCISA (UK Council for International Student Affairs) website.
TEN: EU students may be eligible for financial help with tuition fees, and possibly some extra help, depending on family circumstances. Find out here.
Last year over 110,000 people from outside the UK applied through UCAS to study in Britain. UCAS is the central body which has managed admissions to higher education in Britain for over 50 years. Carla Stanton is the International Manager of UCAS.
Why Study in the UK
The UK has become one of the top destinations to study around the world. With traditions of excellence dating back hundreds of years, high class institutions in every corner and much more flexibility than many other countries, the United Kingdom has much to offer international students that other English-speaking countries cannot offer.
But what makes the United Kingdom stand out? Why should you come to the UK as a destination to further your international education?
International students have always been an important presence in the UK, and their numbers have been growing steadily over the years. In fact, the UK is now the second most popular destination for international students, behind the US. The UK has worked hard to capitalize on the growing demand for English-language instruction and the post-9/11 visa hurdles in the US. The top ten countries sending students to the UK are:
- Hong Kong
- Republic of Ireland
For more demographic and statistical information about international students in the UK, visit the UK Council for International Student Affairs.
Degrees and qualifications from UK higher education institutions are known around the world as high quality and world class. This standard of excellence is set by some of the older universities with recognizable names, such as Oxford and Cambridge, but the tradition carries through to many of the universities and colleges throughout the UK. When looking for work in the future, this can be a great selling point in your favour!
Education Costs are Lower
The cost of education for an international student in the UK can beis generally lower compared to the USA and other countries. Programs in the USA can be $25,000 or more a year in tuition alone. Tuition for the majority of UK higher education institutions generally £6,000 to £7,000 a year - considerably less!
Because your degree will generally take less time to complete in the UK than in other countries, this will also save you money. Although four-year programs are increasing in popularity, most degree programs in the UK are three years, and a masters program is typically between one and two years.
Although international students can manage their affairs so that their UK education is affordable, UK policymakers are taking note of an alarming trend in the cost of education for non-EU students. With exchange rates climbing, life in the UK can be quite expensive. In addition, unlike in many other EU countries, non-EU students are charged higher rates in the UK than students from EU countries. One recent study from the Higher Education Policy Institute warned that the UK must act to contain and reduce tuition and costs to stay competitive in the hunt for international students. At InternationalStudent.com, we are always cheered when policy-makers take note of the increasing costs of international education. As global competition for international students heats up, we’ll be watching for the UK to act aggressively to keep the UK a primary destination for international students.
An international student in the UK is typically allowed to work up to 20 hours a week during school term, and up to full-time when school is out of term. Of course, you should always check with your international advisor at your school before starting any work - you do not want to be in violation of your visa, and rules change frequently. Also, it is not always easy to find a job, so relying on work income to fund your education is not a good idea. Unless you have employment set up through your school before you arrive, you should plan to fund the entire first year of your studies without any employment income. Please visit our Visa and Immigration pages for more details on working in the UK as an international student.
Financing an international education is always difficult. The best approach includes lots of preparation, careful analysis of your budget, and hard work in researching and applying for scholarships. There are a variety of scholarships and loans available to students who wish to study in the UK. Please visit our Financing/ Scholarships section for more detailed information, and also check out the following resources:
Gateway to Europe
With the addition of the Channel Tunnel and low cost airlines such as EasyJet and Ryan Air, Europe is easier to access than ever. You can reach most areas of Europe from the UK within a few hours by train or direct flight. For example, if you are studying in London or Manchester and you want a weekend away in Italy, you can fly Ryan Air direct to Rome, Milan, Pisa, Genoa, Venice or several other cities in Italy. The direct flight would take around two hours and cost anywhere from 30 to 100 pounds, depending on when you travel and when you book. Visit our Getting Around section for more UK travel information.
The UK is known for its multicultural society, with all religions and faiths represented in some way. With a racial, ethnic and religious jumble, the UK is very open to new traditions and cultures - something that is a great thing for students from other countries! You can also be sure that a place of worship will be easily accessible for most major religions - and for more information on this please see our Religion section or visit the following sites:
And you can always visit the BBC religion pages for those not listed above.
Study in the UK