Five Quick Points About the U.K.
- Second only to the U.S. as a study destination for international students
- London a major financial centre for the world
- Increasingly multicultural
- Old, rich, and tumultuous history for students with this kind of interest
- Scottish system of education quite distinct from the education systems in the rest of U.K.
Location and Geography
The United Kingdom is a sovereign state situated west of continental Europe; its total area is 244,820 square kilometres. It comprises four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is the only part of the U.K. with a land border (with the Republic of Ireland); the rest of the state is surrounded by bodies of water (the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel, and the Irish Sea. The English Channel separates the U.K.’s southern coastline from France.
The United Kingdom is renowned for its level plains and rolling green countryside. These predominate in the south and the east, whereas to the north and the west, the landscape includes rugged hills and low mountains. The capital is London.
The U.K. has a temperate climate, and one that is remarkably varied due to all the water surrounding the area – conditions can change greatly from one day to the next. Scotland in the north tends to be cooler than England, while Wales is generally wetter with more cloud cover. Temperatures generally range from around 0º Celcius in winter to 32º Celcius in summer. In all parts of the U.K., waterproof jackets should be part of the wardrobe.
Society and Culture
The development and formation of the United Kingdom has occurred in a way that the cultures of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland overlap, yet still have their own diverse and clearly distinctive features. The trend is for younger people to study for longer and for older people to spend more time in retirement. So the time spent in employment during a person’s lifetime has been reduced. Increased life expectancy and working women have also contributed to this trend.
A member of the G7 and G20 groups, the U.K. economy is the sixth largest in the world by purchasing power – and among the top three in Europe. It was historically the lead nation in becoming industrialised, and London remains one of the world’s main financial centres, contributing to the U.K.’s very globalised outlook.
Services, particularly banking, insurance, and business services, contribute by far the largest proportion of GDP, with industry and manufacturing becoming increasingly less important (as in most affluent nations). While it accounts for a relatively small proportion of GDP, the agricultural industry in the U.K. is highly intensive and efficient, producing roughly 60% of food needs but employing less than 2% of the labour force.
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy/parliamentary democracy, and it is proud of its establishment of the Westminster system of government and British common law, which have since been applied in many different countries in the world. The U.K. was the foundation member of the Commonwealth and remains its flagship country today. A founding member of NATO, the U.K. is also a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.
The government of England is still solely regulated by the U.K. parliament. Since Devolution in 1999, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland have their own legislative bodies and more independent authority in governing their own countries. The chief of state in the U.K. is the Queen, and the prime minister is the head of parliament. England, Scotland, and Wales have regional county councils responsible for local government matters and the large cities (especially London) also have councils (burroughs) that are responsible for local government.
Information Specific to International Students
The U.K. ranks second to the U.S. in international students’ preferences for study destinations. Since the 1999 launch of the Prime Minister’s Initiative (PMI), the U.K. has focussed on providing more international student places in further and higher education. The U.K. has numerous further and higher education institutions for the international student to consider, and English-language courses are readily available throughout the four countries.
Visa applications for the four countries composing the United Kingdom go to the U.K. Border Agency. International students from outside the EEA must apply for a Tier 4 Points Based System Visa. They can apply for a student visa through the Visa Application Centres in other countries (See www.visas.gov.uk). Non-EEA visa regulations are subject to ongoing review, so the student counsellor should make sure to check for the most current rules; but as of this writing, these are the following types of student visa (source: UKBA website, listed below in links).
- Tier 4 (Child) Student: Students can apply for this visa if they are between four and 17. If they are between 4 and 15, they must be coming to the U.K. to study at an independent fee-paying school.
- Child Visitor: Students can apply as child visitors if they are 17 or younger and want to study in the U.K. for up to six months. Students with this visa cannot switch and apply for a Tier 4 (Child) student visa while in the U.K.; they would have to apply for it from their home country.
- Tier 4 (General) Student: For students coming to the U.K. for their post-16 education.Student Visitor: Students must be 18 or older, want to study in the U.K. for up to six months, and not want to work while studying. Students with this visa cannot switch to a Tier 4 (General) student visa in the U.K.; they would have to apply for it from their home country.
- Prospective Student: For students coming to the U.K. to help them decide which course to study, or for those who plan to start a course of study within six months. Students under this category will be able to switch and apply for a Tier 4 (General) or Tier 4 (Child) student visa while in the U.K.
Once approved, a visa is issued for the length of the course of study. Students may receive a visa for both an English-language and a Level 3 (further education) or Level 4 (higher education) course. Some student visas permit work while studying in the U.K.
The UK offers international students an academic experience that is very hard to beat. From world-recognized universities to innovative approach to teaching and the leading minds who deliver it, UK has what you need to reach your potential.
What the UK offers you
1. Access world-leading research
The UK is a global powerhouse of science and research. With so many universities at the cutting edge of global discoveries and emerging technology, UK students graduate with insights and experience that are in high demand around the world.
At the forefront of global discoveries
Building on an extraordinary heritage of new discoveries, UK universities continue to be globally-recognized for their commitment to research. The UK is ranked second in the world for science and research, with 54 per cent of its output considered world-leading. That’s more than the US, Canada, Germany, Japan and Brazil.
UK possesses research reference in academic articles more often than anyone else too, and is trying to continue to be a top choice for international students – especially postgraduates – who want to make sure they are exposed to the cutting edge of their subject.
Connect with brilliant teachers
Behind brilliant research of UK are brilliant thinkers, some of the best minds in their fields who you can connect with at a range of levels. The impact that their supportive inspiring teaching has is evident in the feedback received from postgraduates. 93 per cent of international postgraduates rate the quality of UK teaching highly.
Get your hands on the latest technology
At UK universities you can hone your skills on state-of-the-art technology. With the very latest equipment and IT ready to use across a range of subjects, you can pursue your own research in some of the most sophisticated environments available anywhere.
Research grounded in the real world
With one of the best reputations in the world for industry collaboration, British academic theories are applied rigorously in the real world to test their relevance and impact. And UK has a long culture of making discoveries that really do change the world – 38 per cent of Nobel Laureates who studied abroad chose to do it here in the UK
2. UK education opens doors
A UK education opens doors, wherever you go in the world. For graduates keen to make an impression on new employers, there’s nowhere better to develop the skills that will make you stand out as you start your career, and help you rise to your potential in the years to come.
Open your mind
Living in the UK is for many students a life-changing experience. With so many resources, skills and mind-opening challenges waiting around every corner, you’ll find everything you need to grow personally and professionally right here.
Get the skills employers want
The QS global survey of graduate employers consistently shows that UK degrees are highly valued worldwide, with UK universities topping the QS employer reputation ranking.
As one of the world’s top five countries for industry-university collaboration, you can also access practical work-placements designed to help you hit the ground running in the real-world. From volunteering opportunities to internships and university societies, you’re guaranteed to leave with a competitive edge.
Become a great communicator
Hundreds of languages are spoken across the UK, but the one you’ll be most immersed in is English. Being exposed to one of the world’s most widely spoken languages will help make it easy for you to settle, as well enhancing your English naturally while you study. So, you’ll leave with the communication skills and the confidence to make an impression anywhere.
Follow in the footsteps of greatness
The UK has been the preferred choice for some of the most important minds in history. One in four world leaders has studied in the UK, and according to British Council research in 2015, 38 per cent of Nobel Laureates who studied abroad did it here. So if you’re dreaming of achieving big things, you can be sure you’re in the right place in the UK.
3. A higher standard of education
The UK’s academic reputation is world-renowned. Built on a heritage that is now centuries old, British approach to education applies the very latest learning theory through universities that routinely top international tables. British innovative teaching methods produce successful, versatile graduates who are sought-after by employers around the world.
UK universities have featured strongly in world rankings ever since they began. In 2018 the Times Higher Education World Rankings honored UK with three of the world’s top ten universities, including the top two – the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge . This high quality can be found right across the country, with seven of the top 50, and 32 of the top 200 universities found here in the UK.
Quality that’s government-guaranteed
The UK’s 162 higher education institutions are all held to strict standards by the government, so you know you are getting the best teaching, support and resources available.
A full list of ‘recognized bodies’ – universities and colleges that can award degrees – is published every year, to make it easy for students to see the comparative quality on offer up and down the country – and ensure their qualification will have credibility overseas.
The Register of Regulated Qualifications contains details of Recognised Awarding Organisations and Regulated Qualifications in England (Ofqual), Wales (Welsh Government) and Northern Ireland (Ofqual for vocational qualifications and CCEA Accreditation for all other qualifications). For Scottish qualifications, please visit the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework website.
Innovative teaching methods
British universities combine traditional lectures with a variety of innovative teaching techniques, designed to encourage independent thinking, problem-solving skills and self-motivation. You will be working in small groups solving real-life problems from your future career, whether in the classroom, the lab or on field trips. You will have access to leading technology, from state-of-the-art laboratories to interactive screens and online-learning. You will have an opportunity to learn from the very best in your field: many teachers in UK universities are industry leaders in their field, and you will have one-to-one access to them where you will be able to learn from their vast experience. Our institutions also cultivate industry relationships, allowing you to get practical experience in your field within world-leading organisations, and make connections to give your career an edge.
The consistently high quality of education in the UK has made a firm favourite with international students all over the world, and helped to keep at the forefront of global research.
UK is ranked second in the world for science and research and 54 per cent of British output is world-leading. British field-weighted citation impact is higher than the US, Canada, Germany, Japan and Brazil, so when you study here you can be sure you’ll be working alongside some of the best minds – and using some of the best technology- in the world.
4. Short, flexible courses
It’s not just British world-recognised universities that make UK a top choice with international students. Courses in the UK are tailor made to support you in getting the most from your studies as quickly as possible. From the traditional to the cutting-edge – whatever you want to study, you’re sure to find a course that provides you with the understanding, experience and skills you need to pursue your dream career.
In the UK, flexibility is built into the majority of their courses. Many universities allow you to choose from different subject ‘modules’, so you can build a course programme that suits you down to the ground, specialising as you go for a perfectly tailored experience.
Postgraduate courses in the UK are shorter than both the US and Australia, with many MBA’s taking just one year. So you get better value for money and can begin applying your knowledge in the real world a lot sooner.
UK educational system doesn’t just immerse you in your chosen subject – it’s designed to help you to think differently. Throughout your studies you’ll be encouraged to ask questions, debate your teachers and fellow students, and come up with your own ideas through a blend of practical learning, lectures and seminars and innovative, high-tech teaching.
Connect with career opportunities
As well as connecting you with all kinds of ambitious likeminded students from the UK and abroad, UK courses offer lots of ways to take your first steps into the world of work. From placements, internships and opportunities to gain professional accreditation, you can take your first steps on the career ladder with confidence.
5. British teaching methods
What makes British teaching different?
The UK is known for producing successful, versatile graduates and one of the reasons for this is their use of innovative teaching methods. The UK has a long history of pioneering approaches to teaching that expand and build on the traditional, so students get far more from their studies – and themselves.
One of these innovative techniques is problem-based learning (sometimes known as enquiry-based learning), in which you are asked to solve real-life problems, just like those you’ll face in your future career. This kind of learning is often combined with field trips and experiences that place you in simulated or real-world settings. Through these techniques you’ll learn to apply theory to practice, collaborating with others and often under time pressure, accelerating your learning and giving you a significant edge over the competition when you graduate.
Alongside problem-based learning, traditional theory-based lectures are combined with group seminars and one-to-one tutorials that develop your analytical and communication skills through discussion. Most courses also require a large amount of independent study, cultivating your ability to do your own research and motivate yourself to meet a deadline, and become an increasingly independent thinker.
Teaching with technology
More and more UK universities are integrating technology with their teaching too, and here you can grow your understanding with some of the most advanced facilities in the world. The technology on offer can take a wide range of forms, from e-learning and downloadable lecture videos to the use of interactive screens and state-of-the-art labs for certain subjects. Whether you’re learning, experimenting or just immersing yourself in books, British universities invest in bright, modern environments that are designed to make sure you always feel motivated and inspired.
Learn from the brightest minds
Of course, what really brings their teaching to life is their teachers themselves. You’ll be working under some truly inspirational individuals from all kinds of backgrounds, each with their own unique passions, industry experiences and approaches to your subject. As you move through your course you’ll be able to develop relationships with them through one-to-one lectures, and even connect with their own industry contacts. After all, what better way is there to become a leader in your field than being taught by one?
Grow your language skills
Whatever you study, language and communication are essential components for success. In the UK you’ll cultivate your skills from day one, with the chance to develop a thorough understanding of professional terminology, such as Medical English. So, whether you’re in a lecture, or chatting to friends in a café, you’ll be advancing your language skills every day in the home of the English language.
You’ll chart your progress through a wide range of assessments. From written and oral exams to project work and dissertations, UK education applies a programme of assessment techniques designed to really understand your strengths as a student and ensure you leave with the broadest possible skill-set.
Graduate as a critical thinker
Most importantly, all the innovative teaching methods on offer will support your ability to think critically, an essential skill in your studies and for your future employability. Being able to interrogate problems, challenge bias, spot gaps and devise flexible, imaginative solutions will set you apart and shape you own personal development.
Thanks to a strong emphasis on analytical problem solving and real-world contexts, British courses can help ensure that you leave with the essential critical thinking skills that employers are searching for the world over.
The UK education system is worldwide reputed for its high quality and standards. In general, the British higher education system has five stages of education: early years, primary years, secondary education, Further Education (FE) and Higher Education (HE). Britons enter the education system at the age of three and up to 16 are obliged to attend school (compulsory education), while afterward is upon their choice.
Besides sharing many similarities, the UK education system at different levels at each zone of administration (England, Scotland, and Wales) differs a bit. Generally spoken these differences are not so meaningful that we can talk about the UK higher education as being one.
In UK everybody, aged over 5 and under 16 is obliged to attend school. This aging time frame contains two sections of the education system in UK: Primary and Secondary School.
The Compulsory Education in UK
Key Stage 1
This stage includes pupils at the primary school aged 5 to 7 years old. Basically, during the key stage 1, kids are introduced to some of the most basic knowledge on subjects like the English language, Mathematics, History, Physical Education, Geography, History and Music. During the first year of this stage, the structure of the curriculum contains the Phonic screening, a short assessment of kids’ ability to decode and understand phonics properly. Typically, the student will speak loudly to his teacher a list of 40 words. At the end of this stage (same as in each of them), these pupils will sit for an examination aiming to measure their development in English, Maths and Science.
Key Stage 2
Between 7 to 11 years pupils will be in the second Key Stage of the compulsory education. Now the curriculum aims to move them further in gaining a bit more knowledge on core subjects. At the end of this stage, they will be tested in the following subjects.
- English reading
- English grammar, punctuation and spelling
In English and Mathematics, the testing will be done through national assessment tests, while the teacher will independently assess the level of improvement of each student in Science.
Key Stage 3
Pupils aged 11 to 14 are in the third stage of compulsory education. To a certain degree, this period of their education is very important because only a few years later they will sit for the GCSE national qualification. The curriculum during this stage of education will also contain new subjects at which students are supposed to get some basic knowledge before moving any further in the upcoming stages of education. The subjects learned in Key Stage 3 are English, Mathematics, Science, History, Geography, Art and Design, Music, Physical Education, Modern Foreign Languages, Design and Technology and Computing. At the end of the Key Stage 3, some students may take their GCSE or other national qualifications.
Key Stage 4
The final stage of the compulsory education, the Key Stage 4 lasts from the age of 14 to 16. This is the most common period of time for students to undertake the national assessment tests that will lead them to take a GCSE or other national qualifications. The compulsory national curriculum at this stage contains the “core” and “foundation” subjects.
These are the “core” subjects taught at the Key Stage 4:
And these are the “foundation” subjects taught at the Key Stage 4:
- Physical Education
Additionally, schools in UK are obliged to offer one of the following subjects during this stage of education
- Design and Technology
- Modern Foreign Languages
The Higher Education System in the United Kingdom
In particular, the UK higher education is valued all over the world for its renowned standards and quality. Its higher education’s prestige it also emanates from its graduates’ work afterward. Many eminent people in many different areas whose work reached global recognition came out of British universities. Some of these universities and other higher education providers are ranked at the top among universities in the world. The UK capital city, London, not by accident, is considered to be the world’s capital city of higher education. With its four universities being ranked in the world’s top ten, London has the highest number of top worldwide ranked universities per city.
By definition, the UK higher education is the level of education that follows the secondary school at the hierarchy of educational system in the UK. When the high school is over, Britons have to sit in a standard examination, which makes them eligible or not to continue their education in the higher level of education.
In the UK education system in contrast to the US higher education, there is a difference between college and university. While in the US there is no distinction between college and university with most of the people referring to a higher education provider as a college, in the UK this is not the case. Here, a college is a Further Education institution which prepares its students to earn degrees, while a university is licensed HE institution so, at the end of it, students will gain a degree.
Studying in the UK as an International Student
If you’re an international student, you must point out that not all higher education providers in the UK are referred to as a university. This issue is regulated by law. As this official regulation states, a higher education institution can be labeled as a university under these circumstances:
- If it gets an approval by the Privy Council under Further and Higher Education Act 1992
- If it gets an approval under the provisions of the Companies Act 2006.
As an international student coming from countries other than the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you must know that you’ll need a student visa to study in the UK. If you’re aged 16 and you’re a resident of one of these countries you can apply for a Tier 4 visa (General student), the official student visa in the UK. Prior to this, you want to make sure you’ll have money to finance your stay there during your studies. When applying for a visa you’ll need to show you have enough money to cover your course tuitions and other expenses.
Most undergraduate education in the UK education system (other than the University of Buckingham and BPP University College, both private institutions) is state-financed with some top-up fees to cover costs. Those who study in the UK know of the hierarchy within the universities. In the British school system, there is The Russell Group, which is a network of 24 British public research universities, contains some of the most prestigious universities in the country. This prestigious group includes universities such as the University of Birmingham, the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, and the University of York. All of these are well-known universities and many people, both citizens of the UK and international students, aspire to attend university at one of these schools.
The UK Education System – Level of Courses
Based on the actual education regulations in the UK education system, the Higher Education comprises these levels of courses:
Postgraduate courses that lead to a Doctorate, a Master’s degree (Taught or Research), Postgraduate diplomas, postgraduate certificates of education (PGCE) and professional degrees. To enter this level, it is usually required to have a first degree (Bachelor).
Undergraduate courses which include a wide range of first degrees (Bachelor’s): honours and ordinary degrees, qualified teacher status, enhanced first degrees, intercalated degrees (first-degree students in specific study fields may interrupt their ongoing studies and spend a year studying a field related to their major study subject). Other undergraduate courses: Foundation degrees, SVQ, NVQ, Higher National Diploma HND (or equivalent), NHC (or equivalent) etc.
An undergraduate course it usually takes 3 years to finish, while Scotland makes an exemption because it takes 4 years to finish an undergraduate course. The higher education in the UK education system is having an extended number of universities that are offering 4-year undergraduate courses, also known as “sandwich courses”. This program includes one year in a workplace, usually in your third year.
Some British universities offer fast-track programs where you can obtain a Master’s degree at the undergraduate level. By contrast to traditional undergraduate levels, students in these programs can attend an additional year of studying instead of taking a Bachelor degree and then admit to a Master program. Besides, it costs much less than usual 3-year undergraduate courses, it’s normally much intense because there are shorten holiday breaks and the schedule is heavy.
Some of the more prestigious universities in UK offer postgraduate degrees. If schools offer postgraduate degrees, they offer Master’s Degrees (typically one year, sometimes two years if your degree is research-based) and/or Doctorate degrees (three-year degrees). These are only available if you have obtained a bachelor’s degree at an accredited university (not necessarily one in England).
In the United Kingdom education system, most syllabi are set by the universities which are offering them and are not controlled by the government or certain British educational institution. The only exception to this is teacher education programs, which the government has a lot of say over. The British government has established the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) to maintain those standards. Most countries have specific regulations for their teachers, so this isn’t any different than studying teaching in your home country. Because of their strict regulations and high standards for teacher education programs, the UK is considered to have some of the best teacher education programs in the world.
Even though the syllabi are set by universities, the Office for Fair Access (OfFA) in the British school system, has a lot of say on the admission procedures of each university. This office was created so that everyone who wishes to attend university in UK has the ability to do so. They also promote fair access to higher education, even for those who are attending university as international students. Fair access also includes those of different cultures, different races, different nationalities, and those who have disabilities.
Qualification types offered by the United Kingdom awarding bodies
Qualifications range in size and type, can be academic, vocational or skills-related, and are grouped together into different levels of difficulty. In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, qualifications are divided into Higher Education qualifications, which are on the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ) and are awarded by bodies with degree awarding powers, and Regulated qualifications, which are on the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF) and are accredited by Ofqual in England, the Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment in Northern Ireland and Qualifications Wales in Wales. In Scotland, qualifications are divided into Higher Education qualifications, Scottish Qualifications Authority qualifications and Scottish Vocational Qualifications/Modern Apprenticeships, all of which are on the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). Scottish Higher Education Qualifications are on both the SCQF and the FHEQ.
Qualifications are grouped together into different levels. Each level corresponds to a particular qualification’s degree of difficulty. However, qualifications within any one level can cover a huge range of subjects and take different amounts of time to complete, often expressed in terms of credits.
In England, Northern Ireland and Wales, the levels are contained within the Regulated Qualifications Framework (RQF), which superseded the Qualifications and Credit Framework from 1 October 2015. There are nine levels of difficulty in the framework, from entry level (which is sub-divided into 3) to level 8.
Higher education qualifications are contained in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications (FHEQ). The FHEQ corresponds with levels 4 to 8 of the RQF. Scotland has its own education system and its own twelve level system, the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework. These can also be equated with the European Qualifications Framework.
Bachelor’s degree with honours
Non-honours bachelor’s degree
Higher National Diploma
Higher National Certificate
GCSE (grades A*–C)
GCSE (grades D-G)
Skills for Life
About subjects, modules, and study modes
The academic year
In the UK, the standard academic year starts in September or October and runs until June or July. Postgraduate courses often run from September to September, and there are other courses that are more flexible and offer a range of start dates.
Subjects and modules
Most higher education courses have a ‘modular’ structure. This means that you can build a personalized course by choosing modules or units of study from different subject areas. For example, if you are studying English literature, for your first year you could choose one module on Science fiction, one module on Children’s literature, and one module on Short stories. If you are interested in more than one subject, you may be able to study a combination as part of your course, e.g. English literature and psychology. You can often decide for yourself how much time you would like to spend on each subject. ‘Joint’ means the two subjects are studied equally, ‘major/minor’ means the time spent is usually 75 percent/25 percent.
Most full-time undergraduate courses take three years to complete (typically four years in Scotland). Full-time postgraduate courses can be from one year upwards. Some degrees are available to study as accelerated courses taken over two years instead of three, so that you can gain your qualification even faster. Accelerated degrees have the same amount of modules as their three year options, allowing you to get even better value for money by getting the same course with a year less of living costs.
Part-time courses are normally taken over a longer period, so that you can work alongside your studies or learn at a more relaxed pace. If you need a visa to study in the UK, please check your immigration status allows you whether to do a part-time course.
The grading system applied in England, Wales and Northern Ireland share a lot of similarities, while the Scottish grading system is different.
Grading system in UK Higher Education
The UK has a unique higher education grading system. Its most unique feature compared to traditional grading systems is that it aims to be more specific in describing students’ academic achievement. This type of assessment method is highly valued because it offers many advantages. Most importantly it highlights your academic strengths and specific skills; therefore, it helps employers gain a better understanding of your true potential. Since it is proved to be such an efficient tool to assess students’ performance, many foreign countries like Canada, Australia and India are using the same grading system in some occasions with small changes to fit into their own local educational context.
The UK universities use a letter grade scale from A to F to indicate their students’ academic performance. If you get an A it means you have shown outstanding knowledge whereas if you get an F it means your score is not sufficient to pass the exam.
Listed below are grades you can take at university in the UK and their definition.
70% – 100%
Excellent to Outstanding
60% – 69%
Good to Very Good
Upper Second 2:1
50% – 59%
Lower Second 2:2
40% – 49%
30% – 39%
0 – 29%
However, it has already been mentioned that UK universities tend to be highly specific when evaluating their students’ academic score. This is to say not all students who get an A have performed the same. This marking principle is not only limited to the fact that all students who have the same grade lie into different mark bands. At the undergraduate level, final degrees are also classified according to overall students’ academic performance. Depending on your academic achievement, undergraduate degrees are classified into the following categories:
- First-class Honours (70% and higher).
- Second-class Honours ( 50% -70%).
- Third-class Honours (40% – 50%).
The first-class degree or often commonly referred to as “first”, is the highest academic achievement at the undergraduate level in UK universities. In more simple terms it means that your overall academic score is equal or above to 70% of the total score you could have achieved in your undergraduate degree course. It is like saying your average grade at the undergraduate level was an A.
If you get a first-class degree it means that you have demonstrated an outstanding level of knowledge through your course and you’re highly competent at the subject you’ve studied for.
As you can easily assume the British universities apply some of the highest academic standards. That being said, in order to achieve a first-class degree, you have to be among very few students who show an outstanding level of academic achievement. In recent years the number of first-class graduates in the UK has increased smoothly, but their proportion remains small still. Usually, your overall marking score must be at least 70% in order to be awarded a first-class degree, but sometimes changes depending on the university you’re studying at. Quite often your grades in the first year are not taken into account in your final qualification, but your academic progress in the second and senior year definitely will. Note that since a first-class degree requires an excellent intellectual aptitude, it is not common for UK universities to offer joint first-class degree courses. However, famous universities like Oxford, Cambridge and Glasgow do offer some courses of that kind.
Second class degree
The second-class degree is divided into two categories: upper second-class degree and lower second-class degree.
The upper second-class degree is labelled as 2:1 degree (“two-one”). In order to be awarded a 2:1 degree (“two-one”), your academic score must range from 60% to 69%. By definition, it means that you have shown pretty good knowledge, but there is some room for improvement. Typically, you’re going to need an upper second-class degree if you want to enroll a master degree in the UK because it is the minimum entry requirement. An upper second-class degree also puts you in a favourable position in the job market as it is very much sought-after from employers.
The lower second-class degree is commonly known as a 2:2(“two-two”) degree. Compared to other classified degrees described in previous sections a lower second-class degree is a lower academic achievement, therefore doesn’t draw any significant improvement in your CV and your employability.
Third Class Degree
A third-class degree is the lowest academic qualification you can get in an undergraduate degree program. Students to whom is awarded a third-class degree have taken marks between 40% and 49%, which is surely something you should not aim for. Unfortunately, the prospects of finding a good job or succeeding in postgraduate education holding a third-class degree are low. Statistically, third-class students share the smallest proportion of undergraduates in the UK. Note that in some cases student whose final academic score lies close to the minimum required to get a third-class degree, will still be awarded a regular degree known as Pass.
The UK Grading System and ETCS grades
European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System is a common grading framework used by European countries in order to facilitate the process of converting grades from a local grading system to another one.
The table below shows final grades in the UK and their corresponding equivalent in the ECTS system
Upper Second-Class Degree
60% – 69%
Lower Second-Class Degree
Third Class Degree
Note however that ECTS are to a large extent optional and universities are still free to apply their own grading policies. Most of the time, the transcript of a student’s grade in Europe will contain an additional column for ECTS grades alongside local grades.
The UK Grading System and The US Grading System
Since the US grading system is very popular and many US students are attending university in the UK it is very interesting to see how does one grading system stand compared to the other.
The table below shows grades at UK universities and their equivalent in the US grading system
Upper Second-Class Degree
60% – 69%
A- / B+
Lower Second-Class Degree
B / B-
Third Class Degree
C+ / C /C-
The UK does not operate an accreditation system in the way it is understood in the US, i.e. a university (or other institute of higher education) cannot be “accredited” or “unaccredited”. Instead there is a system of quality assurance, with reviews carried out by a government-appointed agency, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA), and external examiners appointed by the institutions. There is also government control over degree-awarding powers and the right to be called a university, the exact details of which vary between different countries of the UK.
Quality assurance reviews by the QAA do not directly assess the quality of courses or qualifications at an institution. Instead, they assess the systems that institutions have in place to assure the quality of their courses and qualifications. QAA reviews are a form of external peer review, being carried out by academics and administrators from other higher education institutions.
Accreditation for professional degrees is carried out by statutory or professional bodies and is awarded on a course-by-course basis. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA) is the independent body that checks on standards and quality in UK higher education. It conducts quality assessment reviews, develops reference points and guidance for providers, and conducts or commissions research on relevant issues.
QAA checks how universities, colleges and alternative providers of UK higher education maintain their academic standards and quality. It does this through external peer review. Reviewers check that the 19 expectations of the Quality Code, agreed and recognised by the UK higher education sector, are met. It also provides advice to the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, on institutions’ requests for degree awarding powers and the right to be called a university.
In addition to its role in sustaining the reputation of UK higher education, QAA also regulates the Access to Higher Education Diploma, a qualification that enables individuals without A Levels or the usual equivalent to enter higher education. QAA works closely with other organisations that have an interest in the reputation of UK higher education, including the Higher Education Academy, Universities UK and GuildHE.
Institutions that offer degree-level courses in the UK are called either ‘recognised’ or ‘listed’ bodies. Recognised bodies are higher learning institutions that can award degrees. Listed bodies cannot award degrees themselves. If you study a degree course at a listed body, your degree will be awarded by a recognised body. If your degree is not from an officially recognised UK university or college, there’s no guarantee it’ll count when you’re looking for a job. If your university or college is not listed, contact the Office for Students to check that they’re officially recognised.
Accommodation in UK is the first and the biggest challenge you’ll have to tackle as a foreign student.
Most common types of accommodation for international students in UK are:
- University Dorms
- Private Dorms
- Rooms in private houses
However, selecting one that will match your desires and most importantly, your financial resources, is hard. Plus, you’re short on time because classes will soon begin. With that said you need a plan ahead.
Cost of accommodation in UK varies to a large degree. Even in the same city, the range of accommodating costs can be very large. Naturally, as an international student saving as much money as possible is a priority for you. And knowing that rent is the highest expenditure you’ll have when studying abroad, finding an affordable accommodation will alleviate a great financial burden to you. However, to get the best deal of accommodation in UK you need to make some compromises in the first place. Said otherwise you have to adjust your preferences to your financial capabilities if you don’t want the cost of rent amounting to a huge amount of money.
London is the biggest and by far the most expensive city to live in UK. The cost of accommodation at the city center is higher than in suburban neighborhoods which are a common trait for big cities. If the campus of your university is located near downtown areas, then you should not attempt to find an apartment in the area around. For instance, renting a one-bedroom apartment in the city center of London will cost you £1,646 on average. With a bit of luck, you can find something around £1,200. The same apartment in the periphery has a monthly rent of £1,185 on average. Bigger apartments cost way higher than this, so in those cases, you should find roommates with whom you’ll share the apartment and the renting cost.
The table below shows the average monthly rent for ten cities in the UK:
Rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in the city center
Rent for a 1-bedroom apartment outside the city center
Rent for a 3-bedroom apartment in the city center
Rent for a 3-bedroom apartment outside the city center
As you can expect urban areas have higher rent prices than rural parts of UK. But even within urban areas, there are still affordable options for foreign students, which can easily be found by carrying a little research ahead.
In downtown areas, you can hardly find a cheap accommodation place to rent. In contrast, apartments and private houses in the periphery have lower rent prices. Aside from minor disadvantages like the distance from the city center, they are quieter, safer, less overloaded with traffic and many students reside there so it’s a great opportunity to socialize.
Well, you may have to commute daily to attend classes, but the total cost of your bus ticket won’t equal the rent you would be paying if you live in the city center. Moreover, there are different convenient types of transportation like the bicycle.
Naturally, you have to minimize the cost of renting as much as you can. But, to the limit you won’t have to sacrifice your needs for a comfortable place to live in, just to save some money. Furnished apartments are a perfect option for people who are studying abroad because they don’t need to buy items of furniture on their own, which they will be selling when returning back home.
The good news is that the cost gap between furnished and unfurnished apartments is very small. Also, landlords of furnished apartments take care that their apartments have everything in place in order to be the first choice of incoming foreign students. So it is highly preferable you always seek furnished apartments. Usually, you can ask a landlord or an agent to do it for you.
If you need to know if an apartment is furnished, you can check out Gumtree.
Does my university help me accommodate?
Nowadays the number of students who go abroad to seek a university degree is trending. To accommodate as many international students as possible UK universities have increased the number of residence halls. However, there are no places for everyone, unfortunately. And these students have difficulties finding a place to live in.
To tackle this issue universities are trying hard to establish certain bodies incorporated into their campus to help their incoming foreign students find a convenient place to accommodate. The majority of universities in UK already offer these services. After getting admitted to a University you can personally contact them and ask if they offer you such help. They can arrange everything before you even arrive in UK.
Tips for finding a good accommodation in UK
1. Do your research
Having a general idea at which part of the city you would like to live and what are the available options to you, it helps you solving this issue in no time.
Nowadays, making a research is an easy task. You can just sit in your living room and start browsing the internet. There are many useful resources, including many websites for housing in UK. You can investigate the trend of rent prices and get a feeling of where it can be cheaper and convenient for you. Also, you can join online students’ forums where you can freely ask students who have already gone through this before you.
2. See if there are private dormitories around
At university dormitories, there are not enough places for every incoming foreign student and therefore many private dormitories get built to accommodate the rest. In cities where the flux of international students is large, there are probably many of them around. You must really give priority to them because they are cheaper accommodation facilities than private apartments and offer similar conditions as university dorms.
These facilities also have their own libraries, cafeteria, residence halls and additional facilities for practicing other activities like sports. Besides this, it is a great opportunity to socialize with students. In other words, it will be a typical warmth students’ environment.
3. Arrange everything before you arrive
As a student, timing is everything to you. If you achieve to arrange everything in time you can fully concentrate on your studies, which really should be your only concern.
Though it may be hard to arrange your accommodation from your home, it is much better if you at least make a checklist of sources and bodies you will contact to address your accommodation request when arriving in UK. Your first port of call should be your university. Their international student office will certainly help you with your research or will carry it on its own.
Hint: If you’re doing online research, always make sure you’re getting information from reliable resources. Unfortunately, there may be scam websites which are trying to benefit from you while causing harm in the process.
4. Find roommates
If you have no other option rather than occupying a private flat or apartment we suggest you share it with someone else. Whether it is London or a much cheaper place to accommodate in the UK, renting price are too high to handle alone for a student.
5. Make sure the accommodation includes everything you need
Before deciding to choose an accommodation place over other options always make sure it contains everything you need. Surely the price is important, but you must aim to get the best deal. If there are no basic conditions for life you must not rent it.
6. Collect information about the location
Location of your accommodation is very important. Besides, it can determine the rent price to a certain degree it will also have other advantages along the way.
First, it can be the distance from your campus. Naturally, you should try to find one apartment as much near as possible.Also, you can see if there is enough accessibility to the downtown areas. If you commute daily to your university you want to find a neighbourhood where there are bicycle tracks so you can drive safely. Further on, you can seek if there are stores where you can shop.
Money for Living Costs
You must have enough money to support yourself whilst studying in the UK. The money that you will need for living costs will depend on the length of your course and where you will study it.
Location of Study
The monthly living costs that you will need to show will depend on where you will be studying in the UK.
- You must show that you have either: • £1,265 per month for living costs if you are studying in London for the majority of your study (more than 50% of your study time);
- £1,015 per month for living costs if you are studying outside London or anywhere else in the UK for the majority of your study (more than 50% of your study time).
You will be considered to be studying in London if studying at the University of London, or if the majority of your study (more than 50% of your study time) is at a site or sites situated wholly or partly within the Greater London Area. The “Greater London Area” means the City of London and the 32 London boroughs, as listed in Annex 4 of this guidance document.
The National Health Service (NHS) is the UK’s state healthcare system providing a wide range of health care services including appointments with a doctor, hospital treatment and dental care. You should register with a doctor as soon as possible after your arrival in UK. Your College will give advice on this and may recommend a General Practitioner (GP) practice. You will need your passport and a letter from your College as proof you are a student.
Tier 4 Students
Those applying for a Tier 4 student visa and coming to the UK for 6 months or longer will be required to pay an immigration health surcharge as part of their visa application fee. Students will be required to pay £300 per year for the duration the visa will be granted. If the leave includes part of a year that is 6 months or less, the amount payable for that year will be £150. If the leave includes part of a year that is more than 6 months, the full annual amount of £300 will be payable. Tier 4 dependants will also be required to pay the surcharge. The immigration health charge is in addition to the visa application fee.
For students applying for entry clearance from overseas, the surcharge will apply to visa
The immigration health surcharge will entitle Tier 4 students to access NHS care in the UK at no additional cost in the same way as a permanent UK resident. This includes at the Doctor’s surgery (known as General Practitioner or GP), a Healthcare Centre or in a hospital. You may need to pay for dental and optical treatment as well as medicine prescribed by the doctor and collected from a pharmacy. There are also exceptions for particularly expensive discretionary treatments.
If your visa application is not successful, you will automatically be refunded the immigration health surcharge (but not the visa application fee). The surcharge will not be partially refunded if you depart the UK earlier than the expiry of your visa. The surcharge is also not refunded if you do not use the NHS during your time in the UK.
Short Study Periods
If your course is less than six months or you are required to make a number of occasional visits to the UK for short study periods and you are from a non-EEA country, you are advised to take out medical insurance as you will be liable for NHS charges for the treatment you receive in the UK except for in a medical emergency and this is limited. Some countries have a reciprocal agreement with the UK which may entitle you to some free healthcare on the NHS but you should seek advice from the health authorities in your home country about what treatment will be covered. EEA nationals should obtain a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC).
Private Medical Insurance
You cannot take out private healthcare insurance as an alternative to paying the health immigration surcharge as this is a mandatory fee included as part of your visa application. It is a personal decision whether you also have private healthcare insurance. You may wish to consider this to cover the following potential health-related costs:
- Loss of fees if you are unable to complete your course
- Costs incurred returning to your home country for treatment
- Private medical treatment
If you already have medical insurance in your home country, you may wish to check whether this can be extended to cover your stay in the UK.
Health and Medical Treatment in UK
If you are going to study in UK, then one thing that you have to consider is health insurance. Sure, you may be insured in the United States, but what will that do for you if you study overseas? If you are looking to study in UK, then you will have to work with what is known as the National Health System, or the NHS.
What is the NHS?
The NHS is the organization that provides the majority of healthcare in UK. The NHS came into play in 1948 and is, for all intents and purposes, a national healthcare system that provides mostly free care for residents of UK. There are charges associated with eye exams, dental care, medications, and some parts of personal care as well. Primary care, inpatient services, long-term health care, eye care, and oral care are all part of the NHS.
How is the NHS Organized?
The NHS is divided into primary care and secondary care, and both parts each have their own trust that helps with care of that specific level. There are two types of trusts in the NHS as well: commissioning trusts are to help provide care for the local population, whereas provider trusts help the health care practices that provide the services.
The trusts are used to purchase services from both private and public practices. There are a variety of things that these trusts can purchase, here is a list of the most prominent:
- General practice
- Community nursing
- Local clinics
- Mental health services
Basically, the money goes where it needs to go in order to provide for the English citizens. Most NHS funding goes to hospitals (because they also do a majority of the care). Hospitals are better able to buy new equipment and hire more employees because of the money. Doctors can identify a need in their communities and receive some trust money as well. In short, if there’s a need, the NHS has funding on hand that is meant to help meet those important needs.
As you can imagine, the NHS has a lot of employees. It’s actually the largest health service in the world and is the fourth-largest employer. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army, Indian Railways, and Wal-Mart are the only other organizations that employ more people than the NHS. There are a lot of administrative costs associated with the NHS, but overall, the system seems to work quite well.
So What Does This Look Like For International Students?
As an international student, you actually do receive some of the benefits of the NHS. However, you will not have all of them – you may be charged for some treatments and you may also have to pay for some of your costs before you receive care (unless it’s urgent, of course).
General Practitioner Services
These services require you to register with a general practitioner (GP) as a patient. If you are only staying in the UK for a semester (up to three months), you can register as a temporary patient. They do not have to take new patients, and you may have to try a few practices before you find one that will take you. If you cannot register, there are also walking in centers and GP-led health centers, which are usually open 365 days a year and for extended hours. Many GP services from NHS providers are free, even if you’re a citizen of another country. If you need to find a GP practice or walk-in clinic, the NHS has a specialized search that you can use.
This is where your NHS benefits as an overseas student may get confusing. Hospital treatment is free if you are a citizen of UK. There are also cases where an overseas student can get treatment free of charge:
- Any treatment for sexually transmitted infections (STI’s).
- Treatment for most infectious/contagious diseases.
- Accident and emergency department care.
- Minor injuries care.
- Emergency care at a walk-in clinic.
- Compulsory psychiatric treatment
- Treatment imposed by court orders
- Family planning (not including abortion and maternity treatment)
Now, you may be able to get other health care for free as well, but it is dependent on your paperwork. If you are living in UK for an extended period of time (for example, your entire university career), then you may be eligible for more than what is listed above. If you are in UK for at least 6 months and/or you work for an employer based in the United Kingdom, you can be eligible for free hospital treatment as well. To be eligible, make sure that you have your paperwork on hand to prove that you will be in the country for more than six months (rental agreement, visa, passport, etc).
If you are admitted to the hospital for an extended period of time or you have to seek a procedure of some type, you may have to pay some charges. This will be settled by you and the hospital during your time of admission. If you don’t pay, then you can have immigration issues later on (you may be denied visas and such). Pay as quickly as you can and make sure everything is settled.
It sounds really confusing, but once you get into it, you’ll find that it’s not so bad. If you are having issues navigating through the ins and outs of the National Health System, then you can check out their general website at www.nhs.uk. You can also look at specific legislation in the U.K. Government website.
Emergency Care Information
Every country has its own emergency number, and UK is no exception. The emergency phone number throughout the United Kingdom is 999. If you are in another part of the European Union, you can also use 112 (it also works in the United Kingdom). There are dozens of great hospitals throughout UK that will make sure that you are getting the urgent care that you will need.
The English health system and the NHS aren’t especially hard to navigate, but it may take some time to figure out what services you are eligible for as an international student. Either way, make sure that you have some money set aside for your health care, just in case. Your international student affairs office should also have information available about the services that you are eligible for.
There are many options for you to make your education in British universities an easy mission to accomplish which wouldn’t be the case in most popular study destinations. A well-developed and easily accessible student loan system, plus many scholarship schemes will offer you enough financial assistance to study in UK. Moreover, in UK, similar to most of the top international study destinations, foreign students are allowed to work part-time. In the UK as an international student, you’re allowed to work up to 20 hours at maximum per week during term-time and full-time during holiday breaks. But there are many restrictions and conditions you must stay in line with in order to be allowed to work.
Your eligibility to work in the UK while studying depends on two major restrictions: those set by your university and those by state-run official institutions. First, you must ensure that your university doesn’t have any constrain pulling you back from working before dealing with state officials. For example, depending on your study course your university may limit working hours to you, aside from governmental restrictions.
In the UK, particularly in big cities like London, international students can easily find a part-time job. Some universities may only allow you to work inside the campus, but there is no need to worry because there are still many options available to you. However, before getting out to hunt part-time jobs you must check if you’re eligible for such work. It all starts with your Tier 4 visa, the official student visa in the UK. The first criteria you must check is your age. If you’re under 16 and don’t have a Tier 4 (General 4) you’re not qualified to work in the UK.
Note that these working prohibitions are only weighted to students coming from a country rather than EU/EEA countries or Switzerland. Citizens of EU/EEA, including Switzerland, don’t need permission to work in the UK while they’re attending a university.
All conditions and limitations are printed out on your Tier 4 sticker (vignette) including the number of hours you can work per week during term-time. When receiving your residence permit paperwork, there will be a letter that will offer you all information, whether you can work or not while you’re studying.
If one of the following is stated in that letter you can work in the UK:
- Work must be authorized
- Able to work as authorized by the Secretary of State
- Work as in Tier 4 Rules
- Restricted as in Tier 4 Rules
- Restricted work – Part-time during term-time, Full-time during vacations
- Restricted work time
- Work limited to 20 hours per week at maximum during term-time
- Work limited to 10 hours per week at maximum during term-time
Your passport’s sticker may say something a bit different to all of the above options, but if none of the following isn’t mentioned you’re eligible to work.
- No work
- Work prohibited
If none of these is clearly stated in your paperwork or you have a problem understanding it, we advise you to contact them personally before deciding to get a job. Note that if you decide to move to a higher level of study or change the course you may be required to initiate a new immigration application. Until you receive a response to this new application you must adhere to the old immigration status.
How many hours you’re allowed to work per week?
How many hours you’re permitted to work in the UK depends on the type of the course you’re attending too. Below are shown how many hours you can work with respect to the type of course.
In these types of courses, a student can work up to 20 hours per week
A full-time course at a degree level or above in a recognized higher education institution
A short-term student registered in a program of a foreign higher institution settled in UK
In the following courses, students are allowed to work only 10 hours a week
- In a full-time course below level degree sponsored by a recognized body or a publicly-funded as a higher education institution.
- Any course where the student is aged over 16 holds a Tier 4 (Child) visa
While students attending these courses are not allowed to work while studying in UK
- In a part-time postgraduate course or above that is supported by a recognized body in the UK or that receives public funds as a Higher Education Institution
- In a course at a further education college at whatever level
- In a course at any level offered by a private higher education provider
- At any course where the student aged under 16 has a Tier 4 (Child) visa
In the UK you’ll face some limits on working hours depended on few elements, including the type of your course and the type of Tier 4 sponsor you’re studying at. Full-time students can work for 20 hours per week at maximum, whether you get or not paid for your job. You can’t average a week in a long period of time since there’s a legal definition of the week. Based on this rule, a week is the period of 7 days between a Monday and Sunday.
Types of jobs you’re not allowed to do
After you make sure you’re allowed to work in the UK, you’ll now have to deal with some constraints on the type of work you’re willing to do. There are certain jobs you’re not allowed to do while studying in the UK. Below are some types of them (paid or not paid) you can’t engage to when you’re holding a Tier 4 visa:
- Be a self-employed or working freelance
- Initiate a business activity
- Full-time permanent job
- Professional sportsperson including sport coach
- Work as an entertainer
- Work as a dentist or a doctor in training, except you’re enrolled in a foundation program.
What types of jobs can you find in UK for students?
In general, the primary purpose of student visas in the UK is to serve as a route for you to study without barriers. Despite being designed only to allow you to attend the university, your student visa can also allow you to work within certain time limits. However, note that the extent to which you’re allowed to work, it’s made rather for your professional gains or to complement your budget. Said otherwise, the government wants to be ensured you’re not losing the track of your studies while working.
If a work placement is mandatory for your study course, then there is a fixed time-limit you should work. Currently, if you’re attending such course you’re allowed to work for the period of time which is less than 33% of the whole duration of your course.
The following circumstances make an exemption to this rule:
- Your study course is offered in a recognized higher education institution and it’s at RQF 6 or SCQF 9. You’re allowed to work up to 50% of the total length of your studies.
- Your study course is part of a study abroad programme and it’s at RQF 6 or SCQF levels. You’re allowed to work up to 50% of the total length of your studies
- You’re a Tier 4 (Child) aged 16 or above. You’re allowed to work up to 50% of the total length of your studies.
- Work placement is an integral part of the study course and there’s a UK statutory requirement that allows you to exceed this limit.
As a foreigner and as an individual who may not have a clue of how the labour market work, it may be hard guessing what type of jobs you can and still not violating the law. Surely, there are many such jobs, but if you don’t know at least some of them right from the beginning you may end up with fewer options available.
Many students fear that they lack the proper skills to find a job as a student. That is mainly wrong because the majority of student jobs require no specific qualifications or skills. Furthermore, regardless of how hard may be to perform the task in a job placement as a student, you will always receive provision from an experienced employee. But have you ever thought about what types of jobs you can find while studying in UK? Below we give you a long list of student jobs in the UK, which will give you an idea over what jobs to seek in UK as a foreign student.
- Student Support officer
- Sales assistant
- Pharmacy Deliver Driver
- Pizza Deliver Driver
- Veterinary care assistant
- Personal Assistant
- Physiotherapy assistant
- Admission Officer
- Sport Facilities Worker
- Customer Assistant
- Freelance translator
- Facilities Assistant
- Residence Guider
- Promotional worker
- Enrollment advisor
- Finance Assistant
- Social Media Assistant
- Newspaper distributor
- Personal Tutor
- Ice Cream scooper
- Host at a Restaurant
- Smoothie Maker
- Graphic designer
- Software Developer Intern
- Tour Guide
- Research Assistant
- Waitress at the university cafeteria
- Pet caretaker
- House Cleaner
- Brand Ambassador
- IT assistant
- Security guard
- Fitness instructor
Your family members (dependants) might be able to apply to join or remain with you in the UK if they’re from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
A dependant is either:
- your husband, wife or civil partner
- your unmarried or same-sex partner
- your child under 18 years old – including if they were born in the UK during your stay
You can apply to bring a dependant to the UK if you’re:
- sponsored by a higher education institution on a course at level 7 on the Ofqual registeror above that lasts 9 months or more
- a new government-sponsored student on a course that lasts longer than 6 months
- a Doctorate Extension Scheme student
You must show that your dependants can be supported while they’re in the UK.
Each dependant must have a certain amount of money available to them – this is in addition to the money you must have to support yourself.
The amount of money you need depends on:
- the length of your course
- where you’re studying in the UK
- whether you’ve finished a UK course or are currently studying
You must have proof you have the money, and that it’s been in your bank account or your dependant’s bank account for at least 28 days before you or they apply. The money does not need to be available 28 days in advance if it’s from a student loan or official sponsor, but you do need to provide confirmation of when it’ll be available.
Dependants applying outside the UK
Your family members must apply online. They’ll need to have their fingerprints and photograph taken at a visa application centre (to get a biometric residence permit) as part of their application. They’ll have to collect their biometric residence permit within 10 days of when they said they’d arrive in the UK. They may be able to get their visa faster or other services depending on what country they’re in – check with the visa application centre.
Each person will need to pay:
- £475 for the visa
- the healthcare surcharge–
- £19.20 to have their biometric information (fingerprints and a photo) taken
If they want to get a decision more quickly than the standard 8 weeks, they can pay £500 for the priority service to get a decision within 5 working days.
They can pay £800 for the super priority service to get a decision:
- by the end of the next working day after providing their biometric information if their appointment is on a weekday
- 2 working days after providing their biometric information if their appointment is at the weekend
Working days are Monday to Friday, not including bank holidays.
Your family members must apply online if they’re your:
Providing biometric information and supporting documents
When you apply, you’ll be asked to make an appointment at a UK Visa and Citizenship Application Services (UKVCAS) service point to provide your biometric information (your fingerprints and a photo).
You’ll also need to submit your supporting documents. You can:
- upload them into the online service
- have them scanned at your UKVCAS appointment
International Student Packing List For Studying in UK
Your Studying in UK Packing List should necessarily contain the following items:
- Clothes for cold weather.
- Household items.
- Toiletries and personal items.
- Kitchen supplies.
- Electronic devices.
- Other accessories.
To make an appropriate list of these items you have to manage between your basic needs and restrictions applied to you from the British law and airline companies. Moreover, your packing list is a one-shot opportunity because you won’t be visiting your home whenever you want.
Below we’ve compiled a full set of items and goods that your packing list in UK must contain.
Packing List for Students Planning to Study in UK
1. Clothes for cold weather
Weather is the major trait of UK. Though there are sunny days time to time, unexpected rainy days are a common thing. Anyway, this doesn’t mean you must bring every your garments with yourself, but a list of essentials is a necessity.
- Coats & Jackets
- Pair of shoes
- Sports clothing
- Long-sleeved shirts
- A pair of gloves
- Suits for any special event
2. Household items
Bring with yourself some items you’re going to need to complement the place where you’re going to reside. First, check if there’s an opportunity for you to pursue them when arriving in UK so you won’t need to carry them from your home.
Here are some household items you must have in your accommodation place
- Reading Lamp
- Air freshener
- Shoe Brush
- Skin care creams
3. Toiletries and Personal Items
Your personal hygiene and that of the place where you’ll be living at is very important. No matter where you go, your packing list must involve some essential toiletry elements.
- Toilet Cleaning Brush
- Floor and Carpet Cleaning Brush
- Nail Clipper
- Small Mirror
- Skin care creams
- Hair gel
- Shaving lotion
4. Kitchen Supplies
As an international student, you will be living independently. This means that you will often have to cook on your own. Below are some of the essential elements your kitchen must contain:
- Dishwashing detergent
5. Electronic Devices
Technological devices are an important part of our daily life. First, make sure you have your cell phone with yourself. You’re going to need it often for browsing the Internet, communicating and capturing moments in the UK.
- Cell Phone
- Digital Camera
- You’re going to need internet access while you’re in the UK, especially in the first few weeks while you’re settling down and getting to know your city. We highly recommend you order a pre-paid SIM card, so you can start using your phone as soon as you arrive.
6. Other accessories
Every one of us has favorite accessories which in a sense, we’re emotionally related to, or simply are an inseparable part of our daily look. There are usually small in size, like a clock hand, and probably won’t overload your luggage. There is the option of buying one in the UK, but it will certainly not replace your favorite one.
Here are some accessories you must have in your packings
- Photo Albums
- A personal diary
Banned Items You Can’t Take With You Into The UK
First, before rushing to fill your packs with whatever it comes in your mind, you must see if those products or items are not included in the list of banned items or goods. There are certain British laws that compose the list of items or goods you’re not allowed to bring with yourself when entering the UK:
- Banned items
- Illegal drugs
- Cold weapons like knife
- Self-defence spray
- Endangered animals or plant species
- Rough diamonds
- Obscene materials
- Meat or dairy products from non-EU countries
Foods and plant products are restricted in the following circumstances
- Aren’t free of pests and diseases
- Aren’t for your own use
- Weren’t planted and grown in EU
Also, if you’re carrying goods that violate someone’s rights like “pirate music” you won’t be allowed to enter UK.
Thousands of international students enroll in some of the best universities in the UK every year, due to the wide range of benefits that come with studying in the UK. Arriving in a new country on your own can be a challenge, especially if you have never been there before. Being caught up in the struggle of getting to know everything and learning your surroundings means you might not be as attentive as you should be when it comes to your belongings and safety. That is why we have compiled a UK safety guide for international students arriving in one of the best study destinations for the first time. Simply follow through the advice you’re about to read, and you will be quite alright.
Is the UK safe?
The UK is a very popular tourist and study destination, attracting millions of visitors each year. Known for its precious landmarks and unique personality, there is a lot one can visit in the UK. The UK is generally a safe country, ranked 45th as the safest among 163 countries, with a high state of peace, in the Global Peace Index 2019. Although it is generally known to be safe, there are things you should keep in mind once you land in the UK. All I can say for now is, beware of pick-pocketing when you’re in crowded places. In addition, let’s go through this safety guide for more information on how to be a student in a foreign country and still get around quite well.
Safety Tips for International Students in the UK
Know the emergency numbers
The emergency numbers are one of the main things you should know about the country you’re about to reside in. In the UK, you will contact the Ambulance, Fire Department, and Police if you dial 999 or 112.
Secure your health insurance
You should ask the health authorities in your home country whether or not any treatment will be covered for you in the UK. If you are not entitled to treatment by the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK, then you must take out your health insurance before you leave home.
Beware of pick-pocketing
Pickpockets are everywhere; however, it is important to learn their tactics and make sure you keep your belongings safe in crowded areas. Some of the areas with the most pickpocketing incidents in the UK are London, Lincolnshire, Manchester, and usually urban areas or crowds. Pickpockets often work in teams, so if you notice any unusual behaviour, be cautious. You should make sure to stay attentive everywhere you go, because you don’t want to lose your money, phone, or other gadgets!
If you do not live in a dorm, you will most likely rent a flat. However, keep in mind that you should not make it easier for burglars to enter by letting the door or windows open when you go out. Make sure you close the windows (especially if you’re situated in the ground or first floor), and always lock the door. Keep your keys and other important belongings in your pockets, since if you lose your bag, you will have them with you.
Keep your belongings in separate places
This is especially important when it comes to money or credit cards. Keep your money in your wallet but make sure to leave some aside in another place as well. Or you might consider placing cash in the wallet and credit cards elsewhere or vice-versa. Having at least one of them with you in case your wallet gets stolen is invaluable.
Be careful when using ATMs
Simply stay attentive when you’re about to use an ATM. Examine your surroundings in case you see any unusual behaviour. If you do, do not use the ATM or invite your friends to stay close to you.
Avoid dark streets during the night
Make sure not to walk alone during the night in darkly lit and empty streets. Call a licensed cab or use public transport. It’s always better to stay safe. There are also certain online maps that show the specific routes you should avoid during the night, but you can also ask city guides.
Be careful in crowded places
Pickpocketing incidents are not the only reason why you should be careful in crowded places. For example, in sports events, people might get violent or someone might start a fight. The same goes for night clubs where intoxicated people are easy targets for muggers. Go with someone you trust!
Is public transport safe in the UK?
Public transport is generally safe in the UK. You can use different modes of transport, such as the railroad system, buses, or even taxis. They are a comprehensive, efficient, and safe way to travel from one place to the other.
The Railway System
The railway system in the UK is comprehensive and allows you to reach almost every town by train. It is actually the oldest railway system in the world, with different companies maintaining the national and regional networks.
In the city of London, one of the quickest ways to travel is by using the underground or overground stations. They are positioned conveniently around the city and you can get the tickets in the stations, through automatic machines or vendors.
Coaches and Buses
One less expensive way of traveling around would be by buses or coaches, although you would have to wait a little longer for them than you would for a train. For example, the famous red double-decker bus would be worth it in the sense that you would get around the city as well as enjoy the view.
There are two types of taxis in England, those with meters that can be hailed in the street as well as minicabs, a cheaper alternative which you must call by phone (however, you must make sure you are calling licensed minicabs, since those from unlicensed providers are potentially unsafe). Taxis are an efficient way to travel from one point to the other if you have a lot of luggage or want to get somewhere faster. They are not available everywhere in the UK, however they are available in the biggest towns and cities.
All in all, the UK is a safe country with low levels of violence and street crime. Nevertheless, you should always apply common sense and be aware of all the safety measures you can take in order to avoid being victim of pick-pocketing, theft, or violence.
- Study Information
- Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education of UK
- The Directorate of Immigration-UK
- UK Council for International Student Affairs
- For Visa Application Center
- University Advisor