The decision to move to a foreign country to live and study may not be an easy decision for most students…
The decision to move to a foreign country to live and study may not be an easy decision for most students. But for Blake McCuchi from California, the UK was the perfect choice for her university academic trip.
“I have traveled to many countries and knew I wanted to study abroad to go to university. Choosing to go to university in the UK was easy,” says Makushi, who is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminology from the University of Bristol.
The UK is the second largest group of international tertiary students after the US, according to the British Council. In the 2019-2020 academic year, UK higher education institutions hosted 574,890 students from outside the UK, according to Michael Beck, senior education adviser at the British Council.
“With over 160 universities to choose from and over 50,000 undergraduate courses, there is so much on offer in the UK, from city-centre universities to institutions in the Highlands of Scotland,” Beck says. UK universities have strong links with their local communities, business and industry.
For prospective international students considering options abroad, here are five things to know about earning an undergraduate degree in the UK:
Students must apply to schools through UCAS
The UK uses an application system called the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, or UCAS. However, some schools can apply to some schools through the Common Application, which allows students to apply to US and UK schools together.
[READ: UCAS vs. Common App: What International Students Should Know.]
“UCAS is cheap,” says Gary Coulter, director of international market development for North and Latin America at the University of Bristol. It costs $36, depending on the exchange rate, for five software options. In the UK you apply directly to a program and not to the university as a whole.”
He says UCAS has four main sections to complete and they are entirely self-paced, meaning students do not need to upload documents as part of the application process.
The major must announce first
Unlike US universities that allow students to declare their major after two years, UK schools require students to choose their major immediately.
“Students should declare their major from the start and the application focuses on knowledge and interest in the subject matter, rather than being dedicated to a particular university,” says Neil Green, Head of International Student Recruitment at University College London. “This makes the UK a great choice for those who know what they want to study and who can demonstrate academic motivation in the application.”
Green says there are thousands of courses available across UK colleges and that the University of London, for example, has more than 450 programs to choose from. As part of the process before applying, students must research the various options and decide which program to apply to, he says.
Bachelor’s degrees are usually shorter and more affordable
“A standard bachelor’s degree in the UK, excluding Scotland, takes only three years, which means students can graduate faster and start their careers,” says Green.
[READ: 3 Types of U.S. Students Who Should Consider Earning a Degree Abroad ]
American universities usually require four years to complete a bachelor’s degree, which can be more expensive.
Coulter says tuition fees at UK colleges are often cheaper than many private or out-of-state options in the US and that tuition fees average between $30,000 and $35,000 per year in the UK. , with average living costs ranging from $12,000 to $16,000 per year.
“Queen’s University Belfast is one of the oldest universities in the UK,” says Margaret Topping, vice-chancellor for internationalization at the school. “Our beautiful campus, academic heritage and contemporary spirit blend well with the hustle and bustle of Belfast which has, importantly, the lowest cost of living in the UK”
Students can work while studying
International students in the UK can work on or off campus when they are a full-time student.
“The student visa allows working up to 20 hours per week during term time and an unlimited number of hours on vacation,” Green says. “In the UK, international student work is not exclusively on campus, so employment in the broader economy is also an option.”
The ability to gain practical experience while an international student has been an advantage for Vaania Kapoor Achuthan from India. She received a Bachelor of Science in Politics and International Relations from University College London.
“Studying in London was suitable for me because it provided a lot of training opportunities in my field,” she says. “I have been able to explore London’s extensive political history and find bridges between what I learn in my course of study and real-world situations.”
Students will gain a truly international experience
Experts say the UK location provides students with a wealth of international experience and exposure.
[READ: What International Students Should Know About Jobs After U.K. University Degrees.]
“Baccalaureate degrees from UK universities give international students the opportunity to focus on their chosen degree subject, work while studying and have a multicultural experience,” says Evona Alizadeh, founder and director of EducAd Consulting in London.
Green says UK universities tend to have a much higher percentage of international students than other countries, particularly in cosmopolitan areas such as central London. He says more than 50% of students at UCL are from outside the UK
“This, combined with the diverse mix of nationalities among our faculty, makes for an enriching learning experience,” he says.
Coulter says students can develop strong intercultural communication skills at UK universities, and schools producing in a competitive era “multilingual graduates with multicultural experience – attractive to future employers”.
Macauchi, now in her second year, says studying abroad has greatly enriched her college experience. She strongly encourages students to get out of their comfort zone and study in the UK
“I meet students from all over the world and explore the beautiful cities of England,” she says. “I wanted challenge and adventure, and my experience here so far has been!”
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5 facts about getting a bachelor’s degree in the UK Originally appeared usnews.com