The UK has become one of the top destinations to study around the world. With traditions of excellence dating back hundreds of years, high class institutions on 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.
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 their numbers have been growing steadily over the years. 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:
- Hong Kong
If you’re interested in studying in the UK, begin your search by exploring UK universities that will meet your needs and budget.
Degrees and qualifications from UK higher education institutions are known around the world as high quality and world class. This standard of excellence is set by some of the older universities with recognizable names, such as 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
Because your degree will generally take less time to complete in the UK than in other countries, you could save money compared to a US school. Although four-year programs are increasing in popularity, most degree programs in the UK are three years, and a masters program is typically between one and two years.
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 become expensive. 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. As global competition for international students heats up, it can be predicted that the UK will act aggressively to keep the country 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. You should 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 frequently. Keep in mind it is not always easy to find a job, so relying on work income to fund your entire 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. Visit our Visa and Immigration pages for more details on working in the UK as an international student.
Financing an international education can be difficult. The best approach includes lots of preparation, careful analysis of your budget, and hard work in researching and applying for scholarships. There are many scholarships and loans available to students who want to study in the UK. Our Financing/ Scholarships section section has more detailed information, along with the following resources:
Gateway to Europe
With the addition of the Channel Tunnel and low cost airlines, Europe is easier to access than ever. You can reach most areas of Europe from the UK within a few hours by train or direct flight. If you are studying in London or Manchester and you want a weekend away in Italy, you can fly direct to Rome, Milan, Pisa, Genoa, Venice or several other cities in Italy. The direct flight would take around two hours and costs will vary, depending on when you travel and when you book. Visit our Getting Around section for more UK travel information.
The UK is known for its multicultural society, with nearly all religions and faiths represented. With a racial, ethnic and religious jumble, the UK is very open to new traditions and cultures - a great thing for students from other countries. For more information, visit our Religion section or visit the following sites:
- Catholic Church in England
- Church of England (Protestant)
- Buddhist Society UK
- Islamic Society UK
- Judaism UK
Since the UK is such a melting pot, students can feel confident that a place of worship will be easily accessible for most major religions.