Study in the UK
About the UK
Learn about the origins of the United Kingdom, a country rich in history and culture and find out how the country we know today was formed over many years through the union of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Why Study in the UK
The UK is one of the most popular destinations in the world to study abroad, but why is it so popular - learn more about what the UK has to offer international students.
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. With over 330,000 international students during the 2005/2006 school year, the UK is 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:
- 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
For more demographic and statistical information about international students in the UK, visit the UK Council for International Student Affairs.
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 favour!
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. Tution for the majority of UK higher education institutions is in the region of £6,000 to £7,000 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 masters 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.
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 generally. 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 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. 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:
• UK Scholarship Search
• UK Loans for US Citizens
• Education UK Scholarship Database
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, 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 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 - and for more information on this please see our Religion section or visit the following sites:
• Catholic Church in England
• Church of England (Protestant)
• Hindu Council UK
• Buddhist Society UK
• Islamic Society UK
• Judaism UK
And you can always visit the BBC religion pages for those not listed above.
Studying/Living in the UK
What is it like to live in the UK? What is the climate like? What is the public transport system like? All these questions about the UK are answered and more, with a focus on the information that international students need most.
We have broken this section down into various sub-categories to make it easier to read and understand - they include:
Map and Climate
Make sure you can locate the UK’s major cities and that you can distinguish between Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland - plus what to expect weather-wise during the year.
People and Culture
The most common stereotypes that people have about a nation often are not true, and the UK is no different. Learn a little about British Culture and the people.
What type of accommodation are you going to encounter when you come to the UK? Dorms, homestays, a private flat? You will have many options available, which will be best for you?
Whilst you are staying 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...
Self Catered Halls
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 UK, being a small country, has many transportation options - some cheaper than others but what is the best way to get around?
"Look after your pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves" so the old saying goes, and this section will help you look after your pennies in the UK.
Visa and Immigration
Probably one of the most important sections about the UK, learning more about your visa, who needs one and what to do to get one!
Recognized around the world as a world class system, the UK's education system is comprehensive and adaptable. This section also has vital information on how to enter programs in the UK such as GCSE, A-Levels and degree programs.
Financing an international education is the greatest barrier for most international students. This section helps students learn about sources of funds including scholarships and loans, as well as other practical financial topics like tuition costs and budgeting.
Once you have graduated, what do you do? International graduates from the UK have a variety of options from looking for work, to continuing their education in a graduate program, to returning back to their home country with their new skills and knowledge.