Each year, thousands of international students visit the UK for higher studies where a huge number of degree courses are available. These range from Medicine, Law, Accountancy and Architecture to the Arts, Media, Humanities, Science and Business. Studying for a British qualification is a sound, long-term investment. There is great value in living and studying there. You can use it to improve your English, get a job and make new friends and contacts.
If you are an undergraduate, there are scores of courses you can choose from. Or you might prefer to study for a UK degree in your own country. Postgraduates can also choose a course from the many on offer.
Half the joy of studying is the chance to meet and mix with fellow students. So, there you can find out about student life, how much it costs and whether you will be able to work to support yourself.The UK education system
It’s important to understand the system properly in the UK. After completing secondary education, the student begins with higher education, which is classified into two-
Non-University level or post secondary studies & University level studies
Non-University level leads to diploma and vocational qualifications. There are about 30 educational bodies that offer diploma and vocational degrees to the students. At University-level studies, there are four stages namely, University-level first stage, second stage, third stage and fourth stage.
The first stage has Bachelor’s degree in Arts, Science and Technology, Law etc. It lasts for three or four years. The second stage consists of two years and students pursue Master’s Degree programme after completing a Bachelor’s. The third stage has two years and it is an extended study of Master’s programme like M.Phil degree. The fourth stage of the UK education system includes PhD degree where candidates present thesis on their subject.
Undergraduate study and degrees in the UK
An undergraduate education gives you an amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in a subject that fascinates you. You can choose from scores of opportunities in Science and Technology, Computing and Business, Art and Design, Social Sciences, Humanities and many others. The broad range and flexible approach of the British education system means that you’re free to choose exactly what you want to study.
You can enrol in a Bachelor’s degree from the beginning, or you can start by taking a two-year HND or foundation degree and then top up to a degree afterwards. You can study a single honours degree and focus entirely on one subject, or study two subjects in a joint honours or combined honours degree – it’s entirely up to you. Find out about the sorts of things you will need to know before you embark on a course in the United Kingdom.
Full-time undergraduate courses in the UK vary from one year to four years depending on the type of course you choose:
HNC: one year
HND, Foundation degree, Dip HE: two years; three with a year in industry/overseas
Bachelor’s degree: three years (four in Scotland); four with a year in industry
Master’s degree (where these are awarded as a first degree): four years.Major courses in the UK:
Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Diploma (HND)Higher national certificates and diplomas are one- and two-year career-related higher education courses, equivalent to the first stages of a degree. They are available in many areas, including Engineering, Sports studies, Art and Design, Media and Communications and Music Technology. On successful completion, you can enter a career at junior management level or can choose to ‘top-up’ to a degree by transferring to the second or third year of the degree course. Look for HNC/HND courses in the course finder.
Foundation Degrees (FdA, FdSc, etc.)Foundation degrees are two-year career-related higher education courses, which are equivalent to the first stages of a degree. They are available in areas, including Art and Design, Media and Communications, Engineering and Hospitality Management. They can be used as a good foundation for a career or as a basis to progress on to a degree course.
Diplomas of Higher EducationDiplomas of Higher Education are two-year courses in subject areas usually related to the Social Sciences, such as Education, Theology, Communication Studies and Social Work. They are ideal for students hoping to progress to a career in these areas and also provide a foundation for higher education courses in the same subject area.
DegreesDegrees are the most popular undergraduate qualification in the UK. They are academic courses, usually studied over three years in England, Northern Ireland and Wales, or four years in Scotland (where the title master’s degree may be awarded). Some degree courses may be extended for a year to enable students to spend time in industry or overseas.
University International Foundation YearUniversity International Foundation Year courses help to bridge any gaps between qualifications you hold already and the ones you need to begin a degree course at a UK university. This could be because you need to develop your English language skills, improve on your academic qualifications, or both.
Postgraduate courses and degrees in the UK
UK postgraduate courses last between one and four years. You can choose from thousands of subjects in the Arts, Sciences, Social Sciences and Humanities.
There are many courses available for all kinds of qualifications – MA, MBA, pre-master’s and postgraduate certificates. Visit the Education UK website to find out about postgraduate courses in the UK. You can also search for a course on Education UK.
You may need to take a pre-master’s course if your qualifications or English language skills don’t quite match the standard required for a UK Master’s degree. Many courses will guarantee progression on to a Master’s course at a particular university.
Postgraduate certificate or diploma (PG Cert/Dip)Postgraduate certificates and diplomas are one-year taught postgraduate courses that don’t usually involve research. They’re often accepted as professional qualifications, giving you a fantastic head start in your chosen career.
Taught Master’s (MA, MSc, LLM, Med, etc.)These generally last for one year and consist of two elements: you’ll complete a number of modules (attending lectures and seminars, writing essays and taking examinations) and produce a dissertation from original research.
Research Master’s (MRes, MPhil)In a master’s degree by research in the UK, you won’t typically attend lectures; instead you’ll devote the entire year to research. At the end of the course, your final mark will be determined by the quality of your dissertation.
Master of Business Administration (MBA)An MBA is a specialist business taught master’s course that will give you a real step up the managerial ladder. It’s the best-known and most popular postgraduate qualification. An MBA from a leading business school in the UK is highly valued by potential employers and can have a huge impact on your future earning ability.
Doctorate (PhD)A PhD, also known as a doctorate, takes three to four years to complete, during which time you’ll be working on a single research project. In your final year, you’ll be asked to present a dissertation of approximately 100,000 words.
New Route PhDs include taught elements as well as a research project and give you the opportunity to undertake interdisciplinary study.
Entry requirements in the UK Universities
There are many different entry requirements depending on your chosen type of UK study. The great thing about studying in the United Kingdom is that even if you don’t meet the requirements for one course, you can choose another at a different level and work your way up. The country offers a range of study options to suit international students at all levels. Find out how to apply on the Education UK website, which includes information about courses at all universities in the UK.
Undergraduate study in the UK
The qualifications you need depend on the course you want to study. You should have completed at least 13 years of education in your own country or in the UK, and have taken pre-university qualifications equivalent to UK A-levels, Scottish Highers or National Diplomas. If you haven’t got these qualifications yet don’t worry – you can still study in the UK. Examples of qualifications required:
Higher National Diploma (HND) - qualifications equivalent to one or two UK A-levels, two Scottish Highers or a Higher National Certificate or BTEC National Diploma; or an international foundation year. Plus IELTS 5.5-6.0
Foundation Degree - qualifications equivalent to one or two UK A-levels, one or two Scottish Highers or a National Diploma; or an international foundation year. Plus IELTS 5.5-6.0
Diploma of Higher Education - qualifications equivalent to one or two UK A-levels, two or three Scottish Highers or a National Diploma; or an international foundation year. Plus IELTS 5.5-6.0
Degree - qualifications equivalent to two or three UK A-levels, three or four Scottish Highers, an HND or Diploma, or BTEC National Diploma; or an international foundation year. Plus IELTS 6.0-6.5
Postgraduate or MBA study in the UK
To begin a postgraduate course, you’ll need to hold an undergraduate degree from the UK or overseas. You’ll be expected to have obtained a first or good 2:1 (or international equivalent) in a directly related subject and you’ll need to speak English to at least IELTS 6.5 level for most courses.
Pre-master’s - undergraduate degree plus IELTS 5.0-5.5
PG Cert/PG Dip - undergraduate degree plus IELTS 6.5-7.0, or a pre-master’s course
Master’s degree - first or upper second class undergraduate degree plus IELTS 7.0, or a pre-master’s course
MBA - first degree, 2-3 years’ business experience, plus IELTS 6.5-7.0
PhD - master’s degree, plus IELTS 6.5-7.0
For UK independent schools
To apply to an independent school, you’ll need to have a good standard of education from your own country. You won’t be expected to have passed formal qualifications but may be asked to sit the school’s own entrance exam in subjects such as English and maths. Some schools may ask students to sit entrance exams in both the subjects. The common entrance exam is also used by many schools for students who enter at the age of 13.
For career-based and pre-university study
The qualifications you’ll need will depend on the course you want to study. Some qualifications (such as A-levels Scottish Highers and BTEC National Diplomas) are below university level and lead directly on to higher education. Others (such as HNDs and foundation degrees) are university-level qualifications that enable you to join a degree course in the second or third year.
Foundation Degree - qualifications equivalent to one or two UK A-levels, two or three Scottish Highers or a BTEC National Diploma or an international foundation year, plus IELTS 5.5-6.0
Improving your English language skills
You will need a good understanding of English before you can study at most further and higher education institutions in the UK. Studying an English language course in the UK, such as English for academic purposes (EAP) or a pre-sessional course, will prepare you for further study. You can search for these and other English language courses in the course finder.
Another option is to take an English test such as the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) in your home country before you come to the UK. The IELTS is the world’s leading English test of its kind, testing the four language skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking. Over 1,000 UK institutions recognise the IELTS and it is available in over 125 different countries.
You can find out where your nearest IELTS test centre is at the IELTS website. You could also take the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic), which is administered online at Pearson testing centres. The test is recognised by more than 100 institutions in the UK and accurately measures the English language listening, reading, speaking and writing abilities of non-native speakers. You can find out more and prepare for the test at the PTE Academic website.
Tuition and cost of living in the UK
‘Studying in the UK can cost less than you think. The course fees you pay include all the benefits that UK study brings - better English, work experience, developing career-relevant skills, living in a culturally diverse society, and making new friends and contacts. A UK education is a unique experience that you can’t put a price on.
The accommodation or living cost in UK would cost you £6,600 per year. This is the minimum fund you require to study in the UK for the first year.
It also includes your other bills and food etc. There are various options available for accommodation for international students. Most of the universities give rooms for rent to international students or you could also take a private accommodation. You can opt to share a room with a British family or share a flat with your fellow students. Generally students prefer to share an apartment with other international students; it costs them cheaper and is more convenient.
International student course fees vary depending on what you are going to study in the UK and for how long.
We’ve put together some information on the average cost for each type of UK course (please note: these are indicative costs only - you should check with institutions directly for their exact fees):
Your UK course fees don’t just cover lectures, seminars and practicals. You’ll also have access to:
college libraries and data archives
extensive research resources
modern computer facilities
science and practical laboratories
workshops equipped with state-of-the-art equipment
fantastic sports facilities
personal tutors and experienced, professional support services
leading thinkers, practitioners, academics and researchers
music rooms, film and drama studios, animation suites and other creative facilities
As an international student in the UK, you’ll also benefit from a modern, and multicultural learning environment.
Working while you are studying in the UK
If you are allowed to work during your time at university, you can easily find out part-time jobs by consulting notice boards around campus, looking in local newspapers and job centres, or going along to your college or university careers office. Many universities have their own job centres which put up part-time and holiday vacancies.
‘You can make your UK study experience work even harder for your future by gaining some valuable work experience. Getting a job while you study in the UK can improve your language skills and enhance your CV. Your future employer will be looking for smart, creative, team-orientated people – working and studying in the UK could make you the perfect candidate.
Before taking on a job, you need to check whether are entitled to work and how many hours you can work each week. For more information, visit the UKBA website.
Your place of study in the UK will have a careers service to help connect you to the world of work. They will provide a wide range of help and support. They include:
They will also help you get first hand experience of the workplace, consider career choices and make professional contacts. Many UK institutions also have partnerships with local employers who want students to work for them – so they understand that you’ll need flexibility to work around your studies.Financial assistance
There are many sources of funding available to you for studying in the UK – particularly if you are a postgraduate student. The British government and other UK organisations offer a range of international student scholarships and awards. We’ve put together some information below on the main UK scholarship schemes for international postgraduate study - you can also search and apply for scholarships in the scholarship finder.
Some of the most popular financial awards are:
Visa Regulations in the UK
The fundamental thing to begin with your education abroad is applying for a visa. There are different types of visa, depending on age, and on the length and level of the course that you want to pursue.
To know more about applying for a student visitor, child visitor or prospective student visa, please visit the UK Border Agency (UKBA) website.
For adult and child student visas, the UK has a points-based visa system which is designed to be objective and transparent. To apply, you need to gain 40 points. This includes 30 points for a “confirmation of acceptance for studies” from the university, college or school where you want to study.
The place you select to study must be on the “register of sponsors” kept by the UKBA. This register gives you an assurance that the institute you are applying to is a bonafide study centre.
Rest of the 10 points comes from demonstrating that you can afford to cover your fee and living cost at UK fully or at least partially. This has been put in place to help you to overcome any financial difficulties that might hamper your ability to complete your studies in a foreign nation.
Some important Tier 4 rule changes:
With effect from 12 August 2010, the United Kingdom Border Agency brought into force secure English language tests for students under Tier 4 (General) of the points-based system.
Under Tier-4 while a student applies for entry clearance, he/she is required to pass a points-based assessment and score 40 points in order to qualify for entry to study. The 40 points are split as follows:
30 points for a Visa Letter issued by a licensed sponsor
10 points for maintenance (money to cover fees and living expenses)
As far as the monetary requirements are concerned, the student must show a substantial fund to cover his or her first year’s tuition fees and monthly living expenditure for the first nine months’ stay. It is noteworthy that the United Kingdom Border Agency (UKBA) recognises that a student has to show one year’s tuition fee and living expenses for nine months, which is fixed. If it is in London, it is 7,200 pounds (approx Rs 5,73,000) and if it is outside London it is 5,400 pounds (approx Rs 4,29,624).
Under Tier 4, student visas are being granted to enable the student to enter the United Kingdom for the purposes of completing a course at a specified institution. Transition from one course to another becomes a cakewalk for students without any alterations in the establishments and that too on the same application. However, changing the sponsor will require a fresh application. Also, the student should have an unconditional offer from an institution in the UK, where he/she has secured an admission.
In addition to these measures, only the highly trusted sponsor category can provide higher risk courses at NQF level 3 and equivalent and work placement courses below degree level. This category of sponsors have been introduced recently. Chances of fraudulently issued offers can be curbed now once the visa letter has been replaced by an electronic facility called the Certificate of Acceptance of Studies (CAS).
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Here it is
University of Oxford.
2.university of St Andrews.
University of Bath.
niversity of York.
all. The best
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