The United Kingdom (UK) consists of England, Wales, Scotland (who together make up Great Britain) and Northern Ireland. The UK’s geography is varied, and includes cliffs along some coastlines, highlands and lowlands and many islands off the coast of Scotland. The highest mountain is Ben Nevis in Scotland which reaches a height of 1 344m.
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. The main chamber of parliament is the lower house, the House of Commons, which has 646 members elected by universal suffrage. About 700 people are eligible to sit in the upper house, the House of Lords, including life peers, hereditary peers, and bishops. There is a Scottish parliament in Edinburgh with wide-ranging local powers, and a Welsh Assembly in Cardiff which has more limited authority for Welsh affairs but can
legislate in some areas.
The English account for more than 80% of the population. The Scots make up nearly 10% and the Welsh and Northern Irish most of the rest. The UK is also home to diverse immigrant communities, mainly from its former colonies in the West Indies, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Africa.
The economy – one of the largest in the EU – is increasingly services-based although it maintains industrial capacity in high-tech and other sectors. The City of London is a world center for financial services.
Home of the Industrial Revolution, the United Kingdom has produced many great scientists and engineers including Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. The father of modern economics, Adam Smith, was a Scot. English literature has produced an endless stream of poets, dramatists, essayists and novelists from Geoffrey Chaucer via Shakespeare and his contemporaries to a plethora of modern writers such as J. K. Rowling and the Nobel Prizewinner, Doris Lessing.
There are many regional and traditional specialties to tempt the visitor to the United Kingdom. For example, in Scotland you might try Arbroath smokies (lightly cooked smoked haddock), or in Northern Ireland why not start your day with an Ulster fry (fried bacon, egg, sausage, soda farls and potato bread)? A traditional specialty in Wales is laverbread (seaweed) made into small cakes with Welsh oatmeal, fried and served with eggs, bacon and cockles. A traditional dish from the north of England is the Lancashire hotpot made with lamb or beef, potatoes and onions.
Hundreds of thousands of international students study in the UK each year, giving the UK a consistently high ranking in popularity. With a diverse population and a reputation for prestigious schooling, the UK is a natural location for international students to flock to. And for students worldwide seeking an English-language education, what better place to study than the country that invented
With an excellent higher-education system and hundreds of world-class universities, the UK promises a rich experience for international students. Our Study UK resource is intended to help you learn more about studying in the UK as an international student, and includes sections on choosing the UK as a destination, choosing a location within the UK, learning more about the country, its history and culture, and adapting to life in your adopted country.
Why Study in the UK
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:
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.
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.
Graduation and Graduate Student Options
After you have graduated in the UK you have several options and choosing the right path may not be easy. The most common courses for international students include returning home or look for work in the UK.
Once you have completed your undergraduate education, you could attend graduate school. The UK is renowned for its choices of educational opportunities and whether you want to apply to do a masters, Ph.D., attend medical school, attend business
school, or law school, the choice can be tough.
As with the USA, entry to the UK is getting harder and harder as the government tightens up border controls and there are constant threats of terrorist activities. Tighter procedures impact everyone, but should not deter you if you wish to go to the UK.
Students From Non-EU Countries
Here’s a brief overview of the rules for the Student Visitor Visa (less than 6 months) and the Student Visa/Prior Entry Clearance (greater than 6 months). These rules apply only to students from non-EU countries.
Student Visitor Visa – the Student Visitor Visa is for those that plan a stay of less than 6 months. Under the Student Visitor Visa, a student cannot have paid employment or an internship greater than 2 credit hours, and cannot extend their stay once they have arrived.
Student Visa/Prior Entry Clearance – if you plan to stay in the UK for more than 6 months, if you may extend beyond 6 months, or if you want to work or have an internship greater than 2 credit hours, then you need to apply for a Student Visa/Prior Entry Clearance.
Applying for a Student Visa
You should apply for a Student Visitor Visa, a Student Visa, and Prior Entry Clearance before leaving your home country. If you don’t, you risk being turned away at arrival if you do not have all appropriate documents and information.
To apply for a student visa you will need the following:
Working After Degree Completion
Like the US, students who complete a degree program in England are allowed to apply for a one year extension of their visa to allow them to gain work experience in the UK, without having to obtain a work permit. Students studying in Scotland are able to extend their visas and work for two years after completing a degree at a Scottish university, helping to make Scotland a particularly attractive destination for international students.
The information contained here is for guidance purposes only and to give you a starting point. Consult OAA Study for More Information on Visa Application for student of any other travel purpose