Why Study in UK?
Hundreds of thousands of international students study in the UK each year, making studying in the UK the number two choices for international students in the world, second only to the USA. For students worldwide that would like an English-language education, what better place to study than the country that invented the language?
London Colleges for International Students
With an excellent higher-education system and hundreds of world-class universities in the UK it promises a rich experience for international students. Our Study UK resource is intended to help you learn more about studying in the UK as an international student, and includes sections on choosing the UK as a destination, choosing a location within the UK, learning more about the country, its history and culture, and adapting to life in your adopted country.
The UK has grown to become one of the top destinations to study around the world. With traditions of excellence dating back hundreds of years, high class institutions at 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 the numbers have been growing steadily. 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:
- China 50,755
- India 19,205
- Greece 17,675
- Republic of Ireland 16,790
- USA 14,755
- Germany 13,265
- France 12,455
- Malaysia 11,450
- Nigeria 9,605
- Hong Kong 9,445
The degrees and qualifications from UK higher education institutions are known around the world as high quality and world class. The standard of excellence is set by some of the older universities with recognizable names, like 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 favor!
Education Costs Are lower
The cost of education for an international student in the UK can be lower compared to the USA and other countries. Some courses in the USA can be $25,000 plus a year in tuition alone. Tuition for the majority of UK higher education institutions is in the region of £6,000 to £10,000 a year – considerably less!
You can also save a lot of money because your degree will generally take less time to complete in the UK than in other countries. Although four-year programs are increasing in popularity, most degree programs in the UK require a three-year course and a master’s program is typically between one and two years. When you consider the shorter timeframe, the cost will be much lower if you only have to plan for three years instead of four or even five as in many other countries.
International student in the UK are 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 all the time. 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.
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 from the UK 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, and 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.
The UK is known for having a 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.
General Climate Conditions
The UK has a reputation for having cold, wet and dreary weather. Although this may be true for some times of the year, the UK is actually much better than most think – and can have some great weather during the summer months.
If you wish to get the most out of the UK, then the times to visit are the summer months when days are long (the sun generally rises at 4 am and will set at 9 or 10 pm at night) and you can expect warmer temperatures. Generally, there are four distinct seasons to the UK; summer, winter, spring and autumn.
Winter generally runs from November to March – though you can expect this to run longer during some years – and is characterized with cold weather, rain, sometimes snow and fog. Winter days in the UK the days are short and nights are long, with the sun rising at about 7 or 8am and setting at about 4 pm. Temperatures during these months often range between 0 to 7°C (32° – 45°F) and although sunny days are possible they will be cold. If it does snow, which is more likely in the northern part of England and Scotland, accumulation will generally only be a couple of inches and will not last long. It is rare for England to have snow that will blanket the country.
Spring runs from March to May and offers some of the prettiest times to visit England with blooming flowers, warming temperatures and cheerier dispositions. Although temperatures during these months generally range from about 5 to 15°C (41° – 59°F), don’t be surprised if winter last longer or summer comes early – springtime weather in the UK is unpredictable!
The summer months are by far the best times to visit the UK if you are looking for warmer temperatures and longer days. Expect temperatures to be in the region of 15 to 25°C (59° – 77°F), but the UK has experienced even warmer conditions (over 30°C/86°F) over the past few summers.
You can, of course, get rain during the summer months, but generally summer is a wonderful time in England.
If you come from a part of the world where seasonal changes are not very dramatic, you will be enthralled by fall. Autumn arrives in September, with dipping temperatures and shortening days, all as a pre-cursor of the winter to come. Temperatures during autumn are generally be anywhere from 5 to 15°C, but fall can provide beautiful weather, especially in light of the long dreary winter ahead.
The UK is an island, so it receives a large amount of rain. It can rain during any season and on any given day – so bring your umbrella!
During your stay in the UK, you will have a variety of accommodation options available to you. Your choices will depend largely on whether your college or university has halls of residence, what city you are located in, and the amount of your monthly budget.
When you sign up for a particular college or university, you will need to indicate that you will require accommodation (unless you have something pre-arranged). Do not assume that you will automatically be given accommodation, but generally as an international student you will be given priority over other students.
One very important tip – once you have been accepted into a program, start looking and arranging accommodation right away! Places fill up very quickly and demand generally exceeds supply.
Halls of Residence
Halls are a great way to meet new people. They are large buildings, sometime divided into flats where you will have either a single room or share with another student. The room itself may be basic, and if it does not have an en-suite bathroom, communal ones will be provided. Generally the hall will provide basic furniture such as a bed, desk and chair and the rest you will have to supply.
Most halls of residence have a canteen where food is supplied (at a cost) to students. As an international student the food may be unfamiliar, but a good way to immerse yourself in the culture of the UK. Halls are either single or mixed sex, so if you have a preference for either you will need to make this very clear to your university from the beginning when choosing where to live.
Apart from the rooms, there are also communal areas that could have a bar (it is legal to drink alcohol at 18 in the UK), TV, pool table, etc…
Many international students prefer the self-catered option because it allows them the freedom to cook their own food and on their own schedule. Self-catered halls are very similar to standard halls of residence, but there is also a communal kitchen available to all hall residents. Be warned, though – communal kitchens can become places where only the stout of heart dare to venture!
Typically students live in halls during their first year, as it makes adjusting to campus life much simpler and helps in making friends. In their second and third years, some students opt to move into a house or flat which is not part of the university.
If you do move into a flat or house, you will have to sign a tenancy agreement, which is a legal document outlining the terms of the tenancy. Be very careful to make sure you fully understand the terms and issues of the contract, and if you do have any doubts talk to your international student advisor who can assist you further.
A flat or house is generally more expensive than any other option, and you may find it hard to find accommodation that is close to your campus. However many students like the freedom to live where they choose, live with whom they like and choose the type of place they want to live in. With halls, you don’t have this flexibility.
The main language in the UK is, of course, English, which is spoken throughout the whole country. In Wales, some people still speak Welsh; however, since all Welsh people also speak English, you only need to speak English anywhere in the UK. For such a relatively small country, there are a lot of dialects in the UK, and some of them can be hard to understand, even for English people. UK dialects include:
- Cockney – probably the most famous and generally attributed to people from London
- Brummy – people from Birmingham
- Mancunian – people from Manchester
- West Country – people from Devon, Cornwall and Bristol area
- Scouser – people from the Liverpool area
- Geordie – people from Newcastler, Middlesborough and Sunderland
- Scottish – people from Scotland
- Welsh – people from Wales
Working after Degree Completion
Like the USA, students who complete a degree program in England are allowed to apply for a one year extension to their visa to allow them to gain work experience in the UK, without having to obtain a work permit. Students studying in Scotland are now able to extend their visas and work for two years after completing a degree at a Scottish university, helping to make Scotland a particularly attractive destination for international students.
Students from EU Countries
Students from a country of the European Union (EU) or one of the other listed countries do not need a visa or prior entry clearance. Those countries include:
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland*, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein*, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway*, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, and Sweden