Hundreds of thousands of students apply to study in Great Britain, or the United Kingdom, every year. With one of the oldest and most hallowed education systems in the world, UK has, for long, been a choice education destination for students across the world. The country is officially known as the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It has, over the years, become a melting pot of cultures from around the world.
British universities are some of the most trusted around the world and regularly find themselves ranked among the best in the world. Over and above that, the UK is also a massive economy and has a number of occupational opportunities on offer. The UK, as we very well know, once had colonies around the world. From India to South America, UK ruled around the world. This led to a number of people from around the world going to the UK for higher education. A trend that continues even today.
The country enjoys temperate weather all year round with rainfall being a highly regular occurrence. Some parts of the country also face severe snowfall during winter months. Cities like Oxford, Liverpool and Cambridge are famous around the world among students and professionals alike. The UK is the world’s fifth largest economy according to the GDP and has one of the largest human development index in the world. London is also known as the finance capital of the world and is one of the most diverse cities in the world.
The universities offer a highly competitive environment with unparalleled opportunities to learn and interact with a diverse and engaging student body. The courses in this country and the faculty teaching at them meet the highest of standards and are some of the most recognized in the world. All this and more makes UK one of the hottest prospects for students from around the world.
The education system in the UK is considered as one of the most comprehensive in the world. It gives a great balance between academic and vocational courses that one may choose to study. The home of the English language, UK is the perfect setting to hone your linguistic skills and vastly improves your employment possibilities as well. Studying in the UK also offers a convenient gateway into Europe. UK finds itself home to students from around the world including countries like China, Brazil, Australia, South Korea, and many other nations around the world. This makes it one of the most diversely populated spaces to study anywhere on the planet.
The UK provides an opportunity for students to interact with students of a variety of nationalities. Moreover, the courses in the UK tend to be shorter than in most places around the world. Undergraduate courses last for about 3 years while post graduate courses last for 1. This can help students save a lot of time and money that could be better spent elsewhere. Courses here also make it a point to provide students activities and societies which can provide them guidance and the opportunity to network. Guidance counselors and advisors in UK universities make it a point to ensure that the students feel welcome and comfortable.
Universities in the UK provide a wide selection of courses and disciplines that can appeal to a variety of passions and ambitions. From programming to ocean engineering to music design to women’s studies, there is no end to the kind of courses one can opt for here. Over 14,000 Indians go to study to the UK every year. It is little wonder that so many people in the world choose the UK as their preferred study destination.
The UK is home to number of high quality education institutions. Education here is largely financed by the government, so apart from a few private players higher education is largely quite affordable. The UK houses some of the oldest universities in the world, like Oxford and Cambridge among many others. From modern classrooms to the well-equipped laboratories, the colleges here lack for nothing.
The bachelor’s degree in the UK typically goes on for three years, there are, however, vocational or foundational degrees that can go on for about two years. Many universities offer courses in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) related subjects. There are also courses that are known as sandwich courses which last for four years and have one year to spend in the workplace. Post graduate courses can typically last for a year, however, research based courses may take up to 2 years. Doctorate degrees can usually last for up to three years.
The UK has one of the most convenient and easy admission and visa process. The cost of living is also not too high. There is ample practical learning and internships which are designed to make the students confident in their own abilities. The UK education system is designed to ensure that each student graduating is an expert in their chosen subject.
The main intake dates for admissions to the UK are September to October and January to February, but a majority of the universities offer the former. Undergraduate students apply provided they have the following conditions fulfilled:
More than 65% for humanities in the 12th
70-80% or above for science, commerce and engineering diploma students
Some universities can also accept 2nd class provided one has additional qualifications and/or experience. There are also foundation courses and diploma programs for students who have scored below 60%
The applying student must be 18 or above
Students applying for post graduate courses need to fulfil the following conditions:
Masters and research courses usually require the student to have secured 60% or above in their first degree
55% and above are also accepted by some management programs provided the GMAT scores are between 600-700
Work experience of 2 to 4 years (full-time) may also be required by some universities for their MBA programs
A minimum age criterion of 25 years is mandatory for all post graduate courses
Language proficiency is another important factor for securing admission in a university in the UK. A student needs to secure at least 6.5 bands in their IELTS for an undergraduate course, or 7.0 for a post graduate course. A TOEFL score of 80 for undergraduates and 90 for post graduate courses is also accepted. There are, however, exemptions, provided a student has secured above 70% in their tenth and twelfth standard examinations with English as the medium of instruction through school and college.
There are a number of documents that need to be in order before the applications can begin. One needs to have attested copies of mark sheets for standards tenth, twelfth and all the years of the bachelor degree. There need to be at least 2 academic reference letters from your most recent professors. A student will also need to have work recommendation from the employer who knows you well and can comment on your professional abilities. Over and above this one needs to have in order their statement of purpose, resume and the score reports of GMAT/IELTS/TOEFL. The portfolio also plays a big role for students applying for design and architecture courses. Achievement certificates in sports of co-curricular activities at the national level are also well-received.
When you are applying for your undergraduate degree, one needs to apply only through UCAS. It needs to be kept in mind that only one application can be made per year. The application can be made online and you can apply to five universities through one form. The final deadlines for most applications at Oxford and Cambridge are 15th of October.
The arts and humanities deadlines are 24th March. Other programs have two deadlines, 15th of January, and the final deadline, 30th June. It is always better to err on the side of caution and send in your application by the first deadline. Sandwich programs usually last for 4 years, the last year of this course is usually a work experience year. Those applying for foundation courses need to know that they usually last for a year. For post graduate courses universities do not usually have deadlines, but it is always advisable to apply 6 to 8 months in advance. The application forms can be picked up at the Rao Consultants offices for free. The UK is one of the most sought after destination for MBA programs.
For international students universities often set their own fees which vary according to course and the institution offering them. Average costs vary in the range of 10,000 to 12,000 pounds for undergraduate degrees and 10,000 to 18,000 for post graduate degrees. Degrees in humanities and social sciences tend to cost far lower than courses focusing on laboratory work or clinical degrees.
UK visa requirements stipulate that a student must have 1,015 pounds in their bank accounts for every month they are to study there. If you are to live in a larger metropolis like London your cost of living will also increase considerably. However, places like Cardiff, Aberdeen in Scotland, and Durham are far more affordable in terms of cost of living.
Rent and food are two of the biggest expenses when living in the UK. Rent prices in larger cities are some of the highest in the world. The National Student Accomodation Survey of 2017 found that students spent an average of 125 pounds on rent every week. The regional variations, however, are quite drastic. Students in Northern Ireland spend about 91 pounds every week, half of what someone in London, may be spending. Food will cost you about 30 pounds every week, and a meal in a diner or a restaurant may run up to 12 pounds. Phone bills, utilities, and other ancillary costs every month will also pad up your education and living bill to a great extent.
If you are applying to the UK for a short term course like a language course or a vocational course you will need to apply for a short-term study visa. Through this visa you can stay in the UK for 6 months, provided you are 16 years or older in age. If you are taking an English language course you are eligible to stay for 11 months, the age criterion applies in this case as well.
If you are between 4 and 16 years of age, and you want to study at an independent school in the UK, you need to apply for a Tier 4 (child) visa. This visa stipulates that you have a confirmed place at the course of your choice, have a consent from your parent or guardian, have enough money to cover your course and fees and meet the other eligibility criterion. You can apply for this visa 3 months before you begin your course and the decision takes about 3 weeks. You can arrive one week before your course begins, provided your course lasts for six months and a month in advance if your course lasts longer than six months. This course does not allow you to study at a local authority-funded college or a further education college.
If you are 16 years or older and are applying to higher education courses you need a Tier 4 (general) visa. This visa follows pretty much similar conditions as the child visa, but has some basic differences. This visa allows you to work in most jobs, depending upon the level of your course and the type of sponsor you have. This visa does not allow you to study at a local authority-funded school.
International students working in the UK get work rights for about 20 hours a week when their course is going on and can work full time during vacations. Students stand to earn 5 to 7 pounds per hour when working 20 hours a week, which comes to 400-560 pounds. Part time jobs are widely advertised in newspapers and other online sources. One can also look for jobs on campus as they are the most easily available. Career cells at your college or university can also be a great help in landing you a job. If you are going to study to the UK for six months you need to get a permission from the Entry Clearance Officer before you work.
For those looking to work full time in the UK there is a point based system that they need to clear. Students that are graduating from a UK university can get a job with a registered company. Students are allowed to stay back for four months after their course is over to secure a graduate employment. The companies are mandated to pay a minimum of 20,000 pounds a year and the work visa lasts for 3 years. There is a possibility of extending that visa for another 3 years or more.
Do students studying in the UK get any extra benefits?
There are two sources of benefit for students in the UK. International students who are studying in the UK for 6 months or more qualify for free health care through the National Health Service. The National Union of Students also helps students get many discounts on things like books, stationery, food, clothes, travel and entertainment. All the students are entitled to free NUS membership.
Do I get a refund if my visa is refused?
If you are refused a visa the university that is accepted, in most cases, will give you a refund on the deposit that you have paid in advance. To get your deposit back, however, you will need to send the university a copy of your visa refusal letter. Some institutions may deduct a 100 pounds as processing fee for the refund.
What means do I have to finance my studies?
Going abroad for studying is always an expensive affair as compared studying in India. The value, however, of an education from a foreign university can by no means be understated. The international exposure, the quality of education and the networking are a definite boost to one’s career and should always be factored in when valuing a foreign education. Students can usually rely on bank loans, family, scholarships, bursaries, and sponsorships among other options to fund their education abroad.
Here are a few financing options for your education abroad:
Bank Loans – Nationalized banks usually offer students loans at highly competitive rates for considerably relaxed periods of time. These banks usually ask for collateral or mortgage in some cases. An international bank loan is another option students can opt for.
Educational Trusts/Institutes – There are a number of private and public organizations that are also on hand to help fund the student’s studies abroad.
Sponsorships – A blood relative is a student’s best bet to help fund your education in the UK. This can be considered provided there is a logical explanation as to why the individual is willing to sponsor you.
Is a deposit required?
There are some universities that require the students to pay a part of the tuition fees in advance to reserve a place for them at the university. Paying a deposit can also facilitate you getting a visa and is important that you pay it.
What is the rating of the universities?
There is no formal ranking system for universities in the UK, the government, however, does take responsibility to monitor and control the quality of education. The teaching facilities of each institution is under the purview of the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education. The government also conducts a Research Assessment Exercise once in every 5 years. This determines the level of research activity in each university department. The departments are graded as high as 5 and as low as 1. A prospective student can also check the General League Tables prepared by newspapers like Sunday Times and Financial Times.