travel guide

Studying in England and the UK

studiesHigher education in the UK is post-compulsory education for students over the age of 18. Higher education offers a diverse range of courses and qualifications, such as PhDs, Post-graduate degrees, first degrees, higher national diplomas and foundation degrees.

Many courses take place in universities, but plenty are also taught at higher education colleges, specialist art institutions and agricultural colleges. You can choose to study different courses depending on your preferences: there are thousands of options available that can complement your skills and interests. Britain is a very cosmopolitan place to live. Over the years, many thousands of families from all over the world have made the British Isles their home.

This has created a richly diverse, multicultural, open-minded society. Consequently, as a destination for international students wishing to study at a higher level, England and the United Kingdom generally, is a very popular choice. Statistics show that around 13% of the university population throughout the United Kingdom are international students and, at any one time in England, there are about a quarter of a million international students. In the UK last year there were 1.8 million full-time undergraduate students in higher education, which included over 104,000 international students.

As with all the UK, qualifications from an English university are recognised and respected throughout the world. The stringent quality standards that all English institutions have to meet are considered to be among the best in the world. This is because every university, college and school continually has to prove that their courses meet these strict criteria. Many other countries are now trying to follow the example of England and the rest of the UK. Thus, by studying in the United Kingdom you will gain recognised and respected qualifications.

Personal and Career Advantages
The adventure of studying abroad is, for the vast majority of international students, an enriching and eye-opening experience. Living and studying in a foreign country enables you to gain detailed knowledge of the customs, language and people of another culture. Studying abroad can broaden your intellectual horizons and deepen your knowledge and understanding of international, political, and economic issues.

In the fields of business, international affairs and government service your employment prospects are distinctly enhanced. Furthermore, English language skills will be important for your future career prospects. Where better to learn the international language of business, science, IT and the internet, than in the country of its birth? Studying English in England allows you to immerse yourself in the language and to live and think in English. Future employers are often very interested in students who have studied abroad because as well as possessing international knowledge and. in some cases, second language skills, they have also developed important skills and competencies such as independence, flexibility, personal growth, confidence, initiative and coping skills.

Employers want employees who can think effectively, creatively and independently. This is an essential part of the British learning experience. At a British educational
institution you will experience a variety of teaching and assessment methods which encourage independence, as well as mastery of the subject. At degree and postgraduate level in particular, students are encouraged to read widely, to question and analyse what they have read, and to discuss openly their own ideas in seminars and tutorials. Career-based courses are designed to equip you for specific roles in the modern world of work

Having considered the benefits it is important to be clear in your mind why you wish to study abroad. There are many different reasons that include wishing to learn or perfect a second language, experience another culture, have the opportunity to travel more or simply to diversify your studies. Whatever the reasons it is important that they are positive ones and not just because you wish to escape from problems at home. Moving to another country to live and study has its stressful moments and you need to have clear, positive goals to focus on to get you through these.

It is very important to plan carefully. There are hundreds of study opportunities in Britain and you need to consider many things before you apply. Such considerations should include the following: what and where you wish to study and why; are the qualifications you currently hold acceptable for the entry requirements of your chosen institution; is your English fluent enough to be accepted or will you have to take a preliminary English course before you can embark on your final programme. (See section on ILETS).  Furthermore, university courses throughout the United Kingdom vary in cost, duration and also structure, therefore you should make sure you look at all the different options available for the subject/s you wish to study. You need, too, to consider the how long you can afford to stay in England, both in academic time and economic resources.

With regard to cost, you should investigate whether you are eligible for financial assistance and if so, how you can obtain this. Even if you can obtain help with tuition fees you still need to think about how much money you must allow for food and accommodation as well as travel. The latter is very important for students wishing to come from countries outside the EU or EEA as such students will need to apply for a student visa where having adequate means of support are taken into account. .

Many universities run educational exchange programmes, for example Erasmus for European students or the Study Abroad Programmes for international students. In both instances these programmes are for students, currently studying in their home country and wishing to spend part of their Higher Education studying in another country. You should investigate this and other exchange programmes as funding is often available. However, you should also ensure that credits you receive from such exchanges are acceptable in your country of origin. English universities offer accommodation to first year students at a reduced cost, you should consider this and also be aware that subsequent years of your degree course will probably involve alternative sources of accommodation such as house sharing with other students.

Health Care
Anyone who comes to the UK to pursue a full-time course of study of not less than six months’ duration will be fully entitled to free NHS hospital treatment in England. This means that you can also take advantage of National Health Service (NHS) treatment, as well as reduced-cost medicines, dental treatment and eye tests.
Students studying in the UK for less than six months from countries with which the UK holds bilateral healthcare agreements will only be entitled to free NHS hospital treatment that is needed promptly for a condition that arose after your arrival in the UK. For further details and a list of bilateral healthcare agreement countries, see here
Leaflets explaining your rights to NHS health care are available from Social Security offices, hospitals, doctors, dentists and opticians and from the Department of Health website:
You can download the UKCOSA guidance note Keeping Healthy here

Because there is so much to consider it is important to begin planning at least one year before you leave home. This is especially important in England as applications to study at English universities are made during the autumn before the year you intend to study. Once you have been offered a place/places and accepted one it is advisable to contact the International Office of the chosen institution to organise accommodation and other services that the university may offer.

Making a University Application in the UK

If you intend to follow an undergraduate course at any university in the UK, you should make your application through UCAS (University and Colleges Admissions Service). Applications can be made online or application forms, known as UCAS forms can be obtained through your local British Council. Your local British Council office can be a great source of support, offering advice and information on choosing courses and will even help you with your application as will as giving you information about translating your qualifications into English.

If you intend to study at a post graduate level or at a Further Education College then you should apply to your intended educational institution directly. More information about applying to university can be found on the UCAS website Contact details for all British Council offices can be obtained from here. And further helpful information on applying to UK institutions is produced by the British Council Education Information sheets. Visit and check out the Subject Zone section.

Applications for the Study Abroad Programme should be made directly to the International Office of individual universities. Applications are considered on academic merit and, as a general guide applicants are expected to have at least a B average or equivalent. It is obviously important to fully discuss this option with your home university advisors as this programme is part and parcel of your degree in your own home country. It is usual for students embarking on this programme to be in the third year of a four-year degree scheme. In assessing your application evidence of a strong academic background are looked for. A full transcript and academic reference should be sent in with your application form. Most universities do not charge an application fee.

Applications for European students for a place on the Erasmus Exchange are made at the university where you are currently studying in your home country.
Most subject areas allocate their Erasmus places in January/February for exchanges taking place during the next academic year.
Some subjects (such as Business Studies) allocate their places earlier, so you may wish to contact your Departmental Erasmus Coordinator at the beginning of your second year.

Application procedures may vary from subject area to subject area. You may be required to complete an application or form to express your interest. Or you may simply be required to put your name on a list. Your application for an Erasmus place is made through your university’s Departmental Coordinator, not the International Office. Once your home university has nominated you as an official Erasmus candidate then you can apply to the British university where you wish to complete your exchange programme. It is important to understand however that you can only apply if your home University has an existing Erasmus agreement with the British University of your choice in the area of your study.