Guide to Studying in the UK
Every year, the UK welcomes more than half a million students to the country, and it’s no surprise that this figure shows little sign of slowing down. With some of the proudest and most well-known universities in the world, coupled with big cities geared towards student life, there’s nowhere better to further your education than in the UK.
Before you turn the idea of studying in the UK to a reality though, it’s important to do a little research and understand what you’re likely to experience, as well as the provisions you should make before you apply.
How much does it cost?
The first questions on many students’ minds when they consider international study in the UK are financial ones. As a ballpark figure, international students can expect to pay anything from £10,000 to £35,000 in annual fees, and most undergraduate courses last three or four years. Medical degrees usually cost more and last longer.
As you can see from this, the cost of your studies could vary dramatically depending on your course and its duration, so the best advice is to find some courses at universities that most interest you and check the fees for them individually.
There’s also the matter of the living costs you’ll need while you study in the UK. As a guide, a budget of £800 to £1,200 a month is a good amount to work with, although the cost of living is higher in London and the South East of England.
Do I need a visa?
If you’re planning to come from outside of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland for international study, UK immigration laws require you to have a Tier 4 or short-term study visa.
To apply for this, you need:
- Proof that you have an unconditional offer of a place on a course at a licenced sponsored school or university
- Proof that you can communicate in English
- Evidence that you can pay for your course and your cost of living during it
The current cost of applying is £335 per person, so if you have any dependents, they will need to pay this fee too. You’ll also need to pay a healthcare surcharge fee, which varies depending on your circumstances.
What are some of the cultural differences?
When studying in another country, it can be a challenge to get used to the customs and your surroundings, often leading to feelings of homesickness. Some of the differences overseas students find hardest to get used to include:
Though Britain is rarely subject to weather extremes, it can be cold and wet for long periods of time. Remember too that since the academic year is usually from September until June, you might miss the summer.
Days in December and January can see under eight hours of daylight, with the amount decreasing as you go further north.
English is a difficult language, especially with its non-phonetic spelling and heavy use of prepositions. Usually, though, people will be patient with you if you ask them to speak more slowly.
Even English speakers from the likes of the U.S. and Canada might be unfamiliar with some of the terms used, like ‘petrol’ instead of ‘gasoline’ and ‘rubbish bin’ instead of ‘trash can’.
Brits generally dress for the weather, so if you’re used to wearing light clothing, you may find it hard to get used to donning multiple layers.
Depending on the country you come from and its culture, you may find societal behaviours to be either overly formal and distant, or uncomfortably liberal. Britain has a reputation for being a bit of both.
Universities in the UK are synonymous with social life, and big cities tend to gear themselves around their student population. Bars and clubs will be open late every day of the week, often catering to the stretched student budget with low-priced drinks.
Studying in the UK can seem like a daunting experience, but it’s sure to be an enjoyable and rewarding one that will stand you in good stead for the future. In 2017, the International Graduate Insight Group revealed that the UK comes first in the world in recommendations from international students.
Provided you’ve done your research and have taken care of your visa, an exciting opportunity awaits you as an international student in the UK.