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United Kingdom

Study in the UK

The United Kingdom has risen to the top of the list of most popular locations for international students. This is due to its long history of academic excellence, a wide variety of high-quality institutions, and a more dynamic environment than many other English-speaking nations.

Study in the UK

The United Kingdom has risen to the top of the list of most popular locations for international students. This is due to its long history of academic excellence, a wide variety of high-quality institutions, and a more dynamic environment than many other English-speaking nations.

What makes it an ideal choice for many international students is its vibrant and multicultural society. Different world religions and diverse ethnic and cultural groups are already represented. As so, the population is highly cosmopolitan and accepting of new cultures. At the same time, international students will easily find communities with ties to their home countries.

As of the 2018-19 school year, 485,645 international students call the UK home. Two-thirds of this are from outside the European Union.

Despite its many draws, the number one reason why the UK is the first choice for international students is still academic excellence. The top-notch reputation of its universities and colleges are recognized worldwide. In the 2019 World University Rankings for Times Higher Education, three of the top 10 universities are British.

With that in mind, international students rest assured that their UK education will open up a multitude of career opportunities and will give them a leg up in reaching their dream.

Countries that Make Up the UK

  • England
  • Wales
  • Scotland
  • Northern Ireland

The UK is not one country, but a union of four: England, Wales, and Scotland, which make up the landmass of Great Britain, and, last to be added into the union and geographically separated by the North Channel, Northern Ireland. Thus, the country’s formal name is “the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

Perhaps the most popular place in the whole of the UK is London. It is the capital city and the cultural seat of power. Aside from London, England’s other major cities are Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham. Cardiff and Swansea are located in Wales. Scotland’s major cities are Edinburgh and Glasglow, while Belfast and Londonderry are found in Northern Ireland.

Why Study in the UK?

It’s not difficult to see why the United Kingdom has a global reputation as a country of learning and academia. Oxford and Cambridge, the two oldest universities in the United Kingdom, were established over 800 years ago. This is still true, with British universities occupying numerous positions in international university rankings.

Universities in the United Kingdom are well-known for the extensive variety of degree programs such as art and design, business and management, and media studies, amongst others.

What’s more fascinating is that if you study full-time in the UK, you can typically finish an undergraduate degree in three years. Typically, a master’s degree takes one year to complete. This is different in the US where an undergraduate degree usually takes four years, and a master’s degree two years to finish. As a result, going to school in the United Kingdom will allow you to complete your degree faster while also saving you money on tuition and living expenses.

Overview

In reality, the monarchy and government of the United Kingdom are shared between four separate countries. England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland make up this group. Every country has its own unique culture and way of life. While the United Kingdom, Wales, and Scotland are all part of the same island, Northern Ireland is on its own. The United Kingdom is what it is today because of relations and conflicts that happened over many centuries. 

Aside from its rich history, the UK is also home to some of the best higher education institutions in the world, four of which belong to the top 10 list of 2023 QS World University Rankings.

A recent report by the UK’s Higher Education Statistics Agency shows that the United Kingdom is home to more than 485,645 international students who are pursuing academic degrees. More than 605,130 international students are studying in the United Kingdom from 2020-21. There were 152,905 EU citizens and 452,225 non-EU citizens.

There are more than 150 higher education institutions in the United Kingdom (UK), which draws students from all around the world every semester because of its track record as a global education hub.

Tolerant and rich in cultural diversity, the United Kingdom is home to people hailing from virtually every country in the world. This is a big factor why the country ranks at the top of the most popular study destinations for international students. In addition, the country has a rich academic heritage and significant research credentials, making it an appealing option for international students.

The UK as a Study Destination

Studying in the UK is a famous collegiate dream for anyone who’s seeking international education. It is a great study location due to many factors like academic excellence, quality of life, cultural diversity, and more.

International students in the UK are making the most of their time in school by pursuing careers in business, law, medicine, or other science-related fields.

Academic Excellence

Academic excellence is just one of many key features of UK universities. When you study abroad in the UK, you not only gain an internationally recognized degree but also get to experience everything the country has to offer. Top UK universities get an influx of international students each year.

According to the QS Best Student Cities 2023, London is the best city for students in the world. Not only this, but the country also takes pride in its top-notch universities that are of a high standard, ranking in the top 20 of the QS World University Rankings 2023.

They are as follows:

  • University of Cambridge, 2nd

  • University of Oxford, 4th

  • Imperial College London, 6th

  • University College London (UCL), 8th

  • The University of Edinburgh, 15th

Moreover, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education conducts regular inspections of UK universities. This guarantees that they continue to uphold exceptionally high standards of learning, research, and instruction.

Top Education Providers

Universities in the United Kingdom are recognized for their educational prowess, among other qualities. Studying in the UK allows you to take advantage of all the country has to offer while also earning a degree that is acknowledged around the world.

University of Cambridge

The University of Cambridge is one of the oldest universities in the world, upholding centuries of world-class, quality education. It is composed of more than 30 colleges, around 12,000 staff, and 24,000 students. UC has produced more than a hundred Nobel laureates and boasts of a more than 90% chance of their alumni working or going into further study 15 months after graduating. 

University of Oxford

Ranking first in the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings for six consecutive years (2017-2022), the University of Oxford is considered one of the best universities in the world. Almost half of its student population is composed of international students. The University of Oxford also contributes the most to world-class research in the United Kingdom.

Imperial College London, 6th

Imperial College London, or simply Imperial, is known throughout the world for its excellence and the employability of its alumni. Aside from its focus on engineering, science, medicine, and business, Imperial also has an edge over the other universities because of its location- being situated in the country’s capital and having businesses and partners nearby is a good advantage. 

University College London (UCL)

University College London is a university proud of its diversity- more than half its student population is made up of international students. UCL utilizes an interdisciplinary approach in its education, making sure that students are well-rounded and geared toward innovation and research. UCL also partners with multiple institutions worldwide, placing importance on change and innovation.

The University of Edinburgh

The University of Edinburgh is focused on research and innovation, taking pride in being a global partner of many institutions and promoting innovation. With over 40% of its student population being international students, it is committed to being diverse and welcoming to students of different profiles and backgrounds. At this university, students learn from renowned and world-leading researchers.

Scholarships and Financial Assistance

Scholarships and financial aids are in high demand in the United Kingdom because of the expensive education. This makes being awarded a scholarship extremely competitive, but UK universities are offering more scholarships to invite the most brilliant international students.

Here are some government-funded scholarships available for international students:

Securing a university-specific scholarship is also an option. Here are some you can choose from:

Quality of Life

As a whole, British citizens enjoy a fairly good standard of living. For environmental quality, community, health, employment, and education, it ranks above average. The UK has high-quality education, healthcare, public transit, infrastructure, and public services, which makes the country an ideal place to live. 

Many people come and study in the United Kingdom because of the country’s rich history, stunning landscapes, and vibrant culture. Additionally, the nation serves as an excellent launching pad for easy travel throughout Europe. Regardless of where you go to school in the UK, you’ll get a taste of the country’s way of life.

Cultural Diversity

Cultural and social norms in the UK are very distinct. Before visiting any country, it is critical to familiarize yourself with its cultural and social norms.

The United Kingdom is a shining example of a multicultural setting in which students can gain knowledge and experience while also integrating into a global community. Immigration to the United Kingdom has also led to an increase in multiculturalism in the country over the years.

The distinct histories and heritages of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, as well as their distinct local accents and dialects, highlight the cultural differences between each other.

The UK university culture includes drinking tea or a pint at a pub, as well as campus communities and clubs that encompass a wide range of interests and hobbies. From hip-hop to opera, the UK is a hotbed for world music, and college campuses host big-name performers and live acts.

Language

Of course, English is the official language of the United Kingdom and the native tongue of 360 million people in the world. Half a billion people speak it as a second language, and it has become the international business, travel, and entertainment language because of how simple it is to learn.

The best way to improve your English is to go to university in the United Kingdom. More than 600,000 students a year choose English language schools, colleges, and universities in the UK because of the abundance of accredited institutions.

Cost of Studying in the UK

Taking classes in the United Kingdom can be pricey. International students can plan the finances they need to attend school in the country if they are concerned about possible tuition and living expenses.

Tuition Fee

Each school, level of study, and program have different expenses related to them. For the most part, degrees in the hard sciences, such as computer engineering, are more expensive than those in the social sciences and humanities. An international bachelor’s degree in medicine can cost anywhere from £10,000 to £38,000 in tuition, as per the Reddin Survey of University Tuition Fees (RSUTF).

However, when you factor in the estimated yearly cost of living in the UK, which is around £12,200, it’s difficult to see how studying in the UK can be affordable. Studying in the country is expected to cost at least £22,200 (US$31,380) annually, with the cost of living in London expected to be much higher.

It’s important to keep in mind that UK universities have shorter programs than their American counterparts: three years for an average undergraduate degree and one year for a master’s degree.

Cost of Living

In addition to tuition, accommodation, food, and transportation costs, international students must also budget for personal expenses. Cities with more residents tend to have higher costs, but this varies greatly based on your lifestyle, the type of housing you choose, and your personal spending habits.

The cost of living in a dorm can vary from $300 to $800 per month, with rates in London being even higher. There is a wide range of prices for one-bedroom flats in London, ranging from £1,200 to £2,200 per month based on the area of the property. Another excellent choice for foreign students is to live in a homestay, which typically costs between £600 and £800 monthly.

Expenses such as groceries, utilities, textbooks laundry, transportation, and entertainment should also be budgeted for by international students.

How to Apply

The application process to a UK university is simple. The first step is to choose which programs and institutions you want to go to. Then, you need to learn more about them and see if you comply with the requirements.

After this, you’ll need to sign up for and submit an application for admission to a college or university online through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Note: Graduate courses have different application processes and requirements.

The next step is for you to acknowledge any offer made by a university, make preparations for funding, and apply for a visa.

Ultimately, the UK is a favored place for higher education because of its academic rigor, low costs, desirable visa policies, an abundance of scholarships, variety of courses and internship opportunities, global employability, and higher levels of fulfillment.

Pursue your dream of studying in the UK. Browse through MSM Unify to know how you can jumpstart your education.

Fast Facts

  1. The UK ranks 5th in Europe in the Uswitch study for quality of life
  2. The UK ranks 4th in the top 10 countries for international students, according to the Best Colleges website.
  3. The University of Oxford ranks 5th in the 2021 World University Rankings
  4. The UK ranks 6th in the top 10 countries with the most well-developed public health care systems
  5. The UK is home to the top universities that offer Politics and International Studies
  6. Aircraft pilots and flight engineers are top paid jobs in the UK with an average of £92,330
  7. Students can choose to start their school year in January, instead of waiting for September
  8. Boxing, golf, cricket, soccer, and rugby all came from the UK
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Work While Studying

One of the top benefits of an international student in the UK compared to other countries is that they’re allowed to work for up to 20 a week during term. Most countries’ student visas do not allow for any sort of formal employment.

On holiday breaks, there’s no cap to the working hours allowed for international students. They can work full time. In bigger cities such as London, international students find it convenient to secure part-time jobs. There is also an option to work in-campus depending on the university or college a student is enrolled in.

There are limitations and restrictions on the type of work international students can take on. They cannot be hired as a sports coach or a professional athlete. It is also not allowed for them to be self-employed or to put up a business.

After completing a course or program, international students may stay and work in the UK for up to two years. PhD graduates can work for up to three years.

Recreation

The UK is an exciting place, with no shortage of things to do and places to visit. International students will have a wide variety of options for recreation.

Some examples are watching sports events, attending music festivals, nature tripping, cinema watching, going to museums, attending art shows, reading in public libraries, and having picnics in any of the UK’s numerous parks.

Football is also very popular in the UK. International students can also try out cricket, rugby, and tennis. For those who love water sports, there is sailing and rowing. In winter, skiing and snowboarding spots are easily accessible.

Application Process

Applying to study in the UK is a straightforward and painless process, so long as you meet all the prerequisites and submit all the requirements.

This is why before going through the process of applying to schools in the UK, an aspiring international student must ascertain that they meet the prerequisites.

The most basic of all requirements is competency in the English language. The aspiring student must take an IELTS exam in their home country and meet the specific score required by the program of their choice.

In some circumstances, an IELTS exam may be waived. This is a case to case basis and will largely depend on the school one is applying to.

Another prerequisite for higher education in the UK is that they must have completed at least 13 years of education in their home country.

Once all these requirements are met, narrow down the schools and the programs you wish to apply to. It’s always a good idea to have “safety schools” just in case your first choice doesn’t pan out.

Get in touch with these schools and submit all the necessary document and application forms. If all goes well, you will be given a Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS), which you will need when applying for a student visa.

Student Visa Application

The first step to applying for a student visa is ascertaining if you are eligible and providing the necessary supporting documents to prove eligibility.

You need to be more than 15 years old to apply for a student visa. Additionally, you must provide proof by way of official bank statements that you are financially capable of shouldering the education and cost of living expenses.

Aside from the age and financial requirement, you will need to present a valid passport and your CAS. Bear in mind that you must apply for your student visa within six months of receiving your CAS. The reference number in your CAS will be inputted on your visa application. Prepare proof of your IELTS result just in case.

The entire visa application process can be done online. Visit the official UK government website to begin. After you’ve completed the process, expect to receive a letter or an email with the results usually within a month from your application. For those who get approved, you will receive a UK visa vignette and access to view your immigration status online.

Tuition Payment

One of the most crucial things to prepare for when studying abroad is the tuition fees. Once accepted by your UK school of choice, they should be able to provide you with a detailed breakdown of your school fees.

For reference, here is the average cost of higher education in the UK for the school year 2019-2020 based on the Reddin survey.

    Annual tuition fees for:

  • International undergraduate degrees
    • Non-medical degrees: £9,250.00 to £39,475.00
    • Medical degrees: up to £61,435.00
  • International postgraduate degrees:
    • Non-medical degrees: £5,000.00 to £35,750.00
    • Medical degrees: up to £47,100.00
    • MBAs: up to £57,200.00

Housing and Accommodation

Apart from tuition and other school fees, you will need to prepare for housing and living expenses. As mentioned, the cost of living is not uniform throughout the UK. But below is a good example of the usual breakdown of expenses for a student in the UK.

These figures are averaged. They may be higher or lower in the average expenses to help you guide in your preparation for your life in the UK. Actual numbers may be higher or lower depending on where in the UK you will stay.

Type of Expense Type of Expense Cost GBP (£) per month
Accommodation in self-catered halls 590
Laundry (depends on usage) 18
Telephone 40
Food 275
Travel (buses, trains within London) 110
Books, supplies, stationery 70
Clothing 55
Personal expenses (includes toiletries) 35
Miscellaneous (includes entertainment) 70
Total £1,263.00

Scholarships

The UK government and other UK-based organisations offer hundreds of scholarships and financial support every year to deserving international students. You’ll find scholarships and fellowships that are country-specific, program-specific, or global and open to everyone outside the UK. Many institutions also offer their own scholarships and bursaries.

Take full advantage of available opportunities. Be sure to check out what’s on offer and what it takes to qualify. Even a partial scholarship will be a huge help.

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