Why the UK?
Because education in the UK is one of the most prestigious and qualitative in the world. It is the British educational model that has been honed for centuries and tens of thousands of students, becoming a model for modern states and an example for imitation. Here, members of the modern world elite, diplomats and polyglots, famous businessmen and members of ruling families from all over the world are brought up.
On the one hand, education in the UK still carefully honors traditions and fundamental historical principles, but on the other - actively incorporates all cutting-edge, innovative methods and educational approaches, equips schools with the latest technology, providing students with an up-to-date education by the standards of the 21st century.
In addition, we should not dismiss the importance of the English language - this international means of communication and business. And where is the best way to learn the language, except in its historical homeland? Education in the UK will provide an opportunity to learn English almost as a second native language, to know it absolutely freely, at the level of direct media.
Structure of higher education in the UK
All the higher educational institutions of the United Kingdom (today there are about 120 in the country) are divided into universities, colleges and higher schools, art and music (and other creative) colleges. The institutions are divided into faculties (institutes), and those, in turn, to the departments.
What are the main steps of higher education in the UK?
- Higher National Certificate (HNC) or Higher National Diploma (National Diploma of Higher Education, HND)
They are given to graduates of professional courses of higher education: they usually take 1-2 years and in their content are equivalent to the first courses of the bachelor's program. You can choose the diploma programs for almost any specialty you are interested in: music and creativity, art and design, engineering and science, business, media and communication, etc.
- Foundation (Diplomas FdA, FdSc, etc.)
A two-year, professionally oriented course is also considered equivalent to the first 2 bachelor's courses. Usually such programs are offered on humanitarian, social issues: social work, education, religious studies (theology), communication and media, etc.
- Bachelor's program
A full-fledged first stage of higher education, giving graduates the opportunity to start an independent career in the chosen field. It is the bachelor's degree that is considered the most popular program of higher education in Britain, especially for foreign students.
It usually takes 3 years (in Scotland - 4), the course can be extended for a year due to an internship or exchange of students abroad.
- Master's Courses
A scientific degree associated not only with deep academic knowledge, but also with a unique personal scientific research (thesis). Usually the master's course takes 1-1,5 years: as a rule, it is a narrower, specific specialization of the chosen field. Incredibly demanded programs of business administration - MBA (Master of Business Administration) also belong here.
- Doctoral studies
The degree of Doctor of Science (Philosophy) - PhD is the most prestigious and high qualification that a specialist in the UK can have. This is the deepest academic knowledge and outstanding skills in the chosen field, as well as the large amount of scientific research having a direct importance in your field of knowledge and profession. You can obtain a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) within 2 additional years of study, but the thesis and PhD education (Doctor of Philosophy - DPhil or PhD) will take 3 additional years.
In some specialties, it is possible even to upgrade the doctoral degree - this applies to medicine, jurisprudence and law, music, theology, the natural and human sciences. Usually, specialists reaching this threshold already work themselves as teachers and independent world famous researchers and scientific figures.
UK Admissions Strategy
To begin, let us briefly consider the features of the enrollment system in British universities.
A student (including from abroad) can submit applications and documents at once to several educational institutions of his choice - usually selected up to 5 directions or universities (in the case of medical specialization are limited to 4). Most UK institutions use the UCAS online system (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). For admission to the master's courses, a similar service UKPASS is used, for enrolling in higher education and higher schools in creative specialties (theater and drama, choreography, music, visual arts) - the CUKAS system. If your university does not cooperate with the listed services - you will need to contact him and send the application along with the package of documents directly. In the UCAS system, filing several applications is motivated also financially: the cost of a single application is 12 £, and several - only 23 £. The benefit is obvious.
Standard (basic) set is conducted from the middle of September to June 30 (with enrollment in September next year) - that is, you will need a minimum of one year for the planned passage of the entire procedure for admission, filing and sending documents and obtaining a visa. SMAPSE experts recommend not to delay: most prestigious, popular universities stop accepting applications by January 15, as most programs just run out of space. With regard to such demanded specialties with a high competition, like veterinary medicine, medicine and dentistry, they usually close the reception even earlier - until October 15, the same rule applies to the legendary Oxford and Cambridge. Courses of design, art and creativity are usually more loyal: in most cases, they extend the deadline for applications until March 24.
If you are concerned about getting higher education in the UK from an early age and middle class-congratulations, you can earn yourself some significant advantages. Let's describe the behavior tactics in this case:
- To finish the British high school
Usually enough last classes - from 9 to 12 or the passage of the final stage of the Sixth Form (2 years - 12-13 grades). As Sixth Form you can choose A-level, IB, Cambridge Pre-U - SMAPSE specialist will help you to choose the best course.
- If you received a full secondary education in your country - welcome to the Foundation
A special one-year Foundation preparatory course is required for foreign students to complete the general education course according to the British standard: in many countries, students spend 11 years in school and 12 in the UK. In addition, this year you will be able to prepare well and successfully pass the IELTS exam: an international certificate of English will be required for admission to absolutely any higher education institution.
What documents do you need?
Remember the main thing: all the documents submitted by you must be officially translated into English and notarized. In more detail, let's talk about:
- Letter of recommendation
It is written by teachers, curators or the director of your school or university, where you have been studied before. This is a qualified, informed opinion about your progress and successes, talents and abilities, assessing your skills to work independently and in a team, the level of activity in the classroom, career preferences and academic goals.
The academic essay written by each entrant should convince the admissions committee that you are worthy to take a place in the chosen university on the chosen program. Try to imagine yourself as a talented, promising, capable student: why you want to study here, what career, personal and academic goals you plan to achieve, what you are interested in, what personal qualities you consider to be the most powerful, winning sides .
Do not forget that if you submit documents to several educational institutions, it is better to write essays for each individual separately, so as to maximally "tailor it" to the specifics and requirements of a particular institution.
What exams will you need to take?
SMAPSE specialists have already mentioned that when you enter a British university (and any other university in an English-speaking country), you will first need to confirm your high level of English. Usually, an international IELTS (International English Language Testing System) certificate is required for this. This is an internationally accepted system that meets all strict modern requirements and reliably determines the level of English for those for whom it is not native. The IELTS certificate is valid for 2 years. Bachelor courses require an IELTS of at least 5.0-5.5., A master's degree is IELTS from 6.0-7.0, and admission to a doctorate is possible with IELTS scores of 7.0 or higher.
Sometimes universities allow equivalent versions of language tests - the most common are TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) or the Pearson Test of English Academic (PTE Academic). Additionally, the university may ask you to pass academic exams:
- GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test)
Standardized test, the most common for applicants of business directions and management: it is a test of the ability to analyze, perceive a variety of information, work with various sources, self-presentation.
- GRE (Graduate Record Examinations)
An internationally recognized test that determines the overall level of your academic and intellectual development: the skill of critical and analytical, verbal-logical thinking, the ability to formulate and argue your point of view, and write structured texts on a given topic.
Be sure to specify the possibility of receiving a scholarship or a grant
For foreign students, as a rule, there are ample opportunities for receiving scholarships and grants for studies in British universities - SMAPSE experts note a few of the largest and most famous:
- BPP University College scholarships = 4,000 £ (issued at all educational stages - bachelor's, master's, preparatory courses, etc. - on business and law lines)
- Sheffield International College = 2,000 £ for education time + 2,000 £ if the course is successfully completed (various programs and academic directions)
- University of Southhampton = 3,000 £ - 5,000 £, depends on the level of the academic score (from 4.25 to 4.75 out of 5 possible), makes it possible to almost completely cover the possibility of education (magistracy)
- Birmingham City University = 500 £ - 1,500 £ for academic success (it is worth highlighting the magnificent Institute of Art and Design, effective and diverse programs of industrial practice and internships)
- Chevening Scholarships = up to 23,500 £ for Master's programs in management (the scholarship is directly funded by the UK Government and can cover not only the costs of education, but also air tickets, accommodation and meals, running costs).
Scholarships and study grants are very important and useful for saving money. SMAPSE specialists give only the approximate cost of higher education in the UK for 1 academic year (it can vary significantly depending on the prestige, level and ranking of the institution):
- Pre-Foundation course = 4,000 £ to 20,000 £
- Undergraduate : Science = 7,500 £ - 22,000 £, Humanities courses = 7,000 £ - 9,000 £
- Master's : Science = 7,500 £ - 25,000 £, Humanities = 7,000 £ - 12,000 £.
I submitted the documents. How do I get an answer? How much should I wait?
Consider the option when you filed documents in the last thread - until June 30 - through the UCAS system. Answers from universities will begin to arrive until July 18, and until July 25 you must already decide on the priority institution and program and send your (one!) Confirmation.
The University can send you 3 answers:
- "The application was rejected" (in this situation one can only hope for a repeated set or clearing procedure)
- "You are accepted" (confirmation of enrollment to the program without additional conditions)
- "You are admitted conditionally" (the university is ready to enroll you for a course, but only on condition of passing additional tests and examinations, or with the provision of additional documents to be indicated).
The UKPASS system (applications for a master's degree program) has its own peculiarities: there is no single registration fee for the application, but it is calculated individually for each institution - a specific amount will be shown to you on the screen when you register. Also there are no clear deadlines for receiving a response - consent or refusal: the programs are filled according to the degree of receipt of applications, so the institution chooses the time frame in which it is ready to notify you of its decision.
Student visa: types and features of registration
Staying in the UK, especially for a long period of study, is not possible without obtaining the appropriate visa. Usually the consular fee that you pay at the Embassy is 70 £ - 90 £, and the fee for sending documents is 60 £ - 80 £, a visa is made within 4-6 weeks. Note the main types of British visas:
- Adult student visa (Tier 4 General student visa): for students over 16 years old, is for the entire duration of study in the UK
- Student Visitor Visa and Extended Student Visitor Visa: for students 18 years of age or older, whose term of study does not exceed 6 months and does not imply work activity in the UK. Extended visitor visa allows you to stay in the country for adult students up to 11 months - for example, if you book a long-term comprehensive English course. Both of these visas can be re-registered in the Tier 4 General student visa if necessary: the British Consulate can do this.
- Prospective student visa: suitable for students who are still planning to study in the country - for example, they have not yet received an unambiguous answer from the university and come to Britain for entrance examinations or an interview. An important point is that your learning process should begin no later than 6 months after you arrive in the United Kingdom. In the future, the visa can also be re-registered at the Tier 4 General student visa.
Medical insurance for students
The public health system in the UK is administered by the National Health Service (NHS): all students who have received medical insurance and who have been studying in the country for more than 6 months can receive medical care free of charge, including emergency care. The same applies to calling an ambulance if the person's condition does not allow them to get to the clinic on their own.
When registering health insurance, be sure to specify the list of vaccinations required to enter the country: the options may vary depending on the region where you plan to live and study.
Where to live while studying in the UK?
In general, students of British educational institutions choose the following accommodation options:
- General Student Residence
Places here are provided by the University for almost all students, for students of initial courses, "beginners" - is required. In most cases, residences are either directly on the campus, or within walking distance from it. The cost of accommodation usually includes accommodation and utilities, the use of local infrastructure (for example, a sports hall, parking for bicycles and cars), and sometimes local tickets. In addition, you will need to pay for electricity, telephone and internet, insurance, many residences also take a deposit for the safety of property (usually returnable).
- Rent an apartment, studio or house
This you can do both independently and ask for help from the University Accommodation Department, which often collects beneficial offers available to one or more students. In this case, you pay the rent directly to the landlord - this is an option for independent, responsible and disciplined students over 18 years of age. Remember that this type of lease is quite expensive - to the cost of rent you will need to add payment for all utilities.
- Host English families
As a rule, this is a fairly economical way of living, very common in the UK - thousands of respectable, law-abiding families across the country are ready to welcome foreign students. Usually the cost of living in the house of the host family already includes the use of telephone and internet, laundry, utilities, sometimes meals.
SMAPSE experts draw your attention to two important facts:
- Students over the age of 18 in the country are required to pay a municipal tax: street lighting, garbage collection, payment of fire and police work (tax exempt residents residing in residences)
- If your home has a TV - be prepared to pay for an annual license (about 145 £), but it can be divided into all living in this house
- Always carefully and repeatedly read your contract! With a university hostel, the maximum term of a one-time cooperation (document) is 39-45 weeks, with individuals - 52 weeks, families - 3-52 weeks.
- Private landlords must take with you a refundable deposit for the security of property - this is a requirement of national legislation.
Of course, the cost of living strongly depends on the location and conditions of the chosen option. For example, in the English province, a week of accommodation can cost 35 £- 50 £, whereas in London the price starts from 80 £ - 100 £.
How much money should I spend?
Of course, personal pocket expenses - the amount is very flexible: first of all it depends on your capabilities and welfare. When the university sends you confirmation of enrollment and invitation, as a rule, it outlines the necessary list of educational materials - and they are purchased separately (postpone approximately 250 £ for the school year). You can save by buying second-hand books - there are many online forums for this, both on the platform of the university itself and on independent websites.
Let's give you an estimate of the cost of utilities for the year:
- Gas = 1,045 £
- Electricity = 580 £
- Water supply = 370 £ - 390 £.
On average, each student spends 120 £ - 300 £ a month on food. You can see the list of shops and supermarkets closest to your campus or houses, view and compare prices in advance. Remember that large packages are always much cheaper, do not forget to track discounts, promotions, sales and coupons, and get acquainted with local markets where you can buy inexpensive vegetables and fruits cheaply.
Can I work while studying?
Foreign students who have been enrolled in the UK for more than six months can work up to 20 hours weekly (during the main year) and full-time during the holidays - of course, if the work does not interfere with the learning process. For a device for any job, you will need to issue a National Insurance Number to pay taxes and deductions to the Pension Fund - the number can be issued at any local employee hiring center.
The minimum cost of labor in the UK is 4.77 £ per hour (if you are under 21 years old) and 5.73 £ per hour (if you are over 22 years old). The minimum amount of payment is set, which is not taxed - Personal Allowance (calculated for the year), with the rest of the earned amount exceeding this minimum, you will be obliged to pay taxes.