Students from different parts of the UK and beyond
- INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: APPLYING TO STUDY IN THE UK
- RISING TO CHALLENGES
- WHAT SHOULD YOU BRING?
- INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS: FINANCE
- SCOTTISH STUDENTS AND STUDYING IN SCOTLAND
- STUDENTS FROM ELSEWHERE IN THE UK
- WELSH STUDENTS AND STUDYING IN WALES
- NORTHERN IRISH STUDENTS AND STUDYING IN NORTHERN IRELAND
- INTERNATIONAL STUDENT LIFE ON VIDEO
- STUDYING ABROAD
- USEFUL LINKS FOR NON-UK RESIDENTS
If studying at home just doesn’t cook your crumpet, there’s always the option of studying in the UK.
Whether you’re perspiring about dreaming spires in Oxford or want to lose yourself in urban grittiness in London or Manchester, the first thing you’ll need to sort out is your application.
The process can vary at different institutions and for different courses, but it’s usually done through a centralised team such as the Universities and Colleges Application System. UCAS, as they’re known, processes most of the entries to higher ed’ in Britain.
There’s a bulging bagload of reasons to study here, not least the fact that an internationally respected degree will - fingers crossed - be the reward for all that study. There’s also the chance to widen your horizons and learn something about yourself – plus of course it tends to earn quite a few resume points with employers, too. Failing that, at least you’ll be educated about warm beer, how to queue, and the merits of talking endlessly about the weather.
Undergraduate degree courses tend to last three years, though if bonnie Scotland appeals, four is the norm. Medicine and some science degrees will probably last you more like six, while postgraduate degrees can trump the lot.
For EU students, all this crazy fun costs the same as for UK students, though applicants from more exotic climes can be floored by fees of over £20,000. This shouldn’t necessarily put students off though, as many universities offer financial help especially for needy internationals – check out Push’s university profiles for all the vital stats. For general information on how much a great, British education will set you back, and whether you’ll need to sell your grandmother’s pancreas to get one, clue-up on our money section.
Studying in the UK can be a damned fine thing and British universities are as ravenous for international students as Pavarotti is for pasta. If a jolly educational jaunt and a nice cup of tea appeal, you might also want to surf over to the British Council’s website for other useful hints
International or ‘overseas’ students also have specific challenges to face.
Language, for starters. Although most have to pass English tests to be accepted, the tests are usually written and the students may need help with spoken English — to begin with at least. Some universities provide it. Some don’t.
Then there’s the possibility of culture shock, even for Europeans and Americans. And home can seem a long way away.
They often get landed in the worst of the university accommodation and don’t know how to complain.
International students associations can be a particularly important support system, although country-specific groups can prove even more helpful. Some universities have a tendency to bunch international students together under a ‘foreigners’ banner.
Beyond that, it’s worth asking what support may be available if it’s needed.
Push has some handy hints on what to pack for your time in the UK. If you’re coming from overseas, your requirements will be different and you may not be able to bring as much gear as you’d like. International students often have the advantage of using university storage facilities over the holidays, though, so hoarding when you get here isn’t so much of an issue. Don’t forget the following.
- Electrical socket adaptors: If you’ve brought electrical goods, you want them for more than ornamental purposes.
- Visas, copy of birth certificate, passport, other photo ID, travel documents and foreign exchange.
- International phone card: For cheap calls home. Local post offices should be able to provide phonecards, or sign up to an online international phonecard, like ekit.com.
- Maps & guidebooks: So you get a handle on the place before you step out the door.
Any UK university is going to expect full fees from you. That’s not just the tuition fees charged to UK students (with the current maximum of £3,145 a year), but a price based on the total cost of your course – anything from around £4,000, up to around £18,000. They’ll probably even want to make a bit of profit out of you.
Contact the university for details of international students’ fees for individual courses. They should also be able to advise you on any university bursaries or grants for international students and there may be help from your government or another organisation in your own country.
The UK higher education system is considered to be of a pretty high standard and, since in some countries you’d have to pay all the costs anyway, it may work out cheaper and better to study here.
The support buck only goes as far as tuition fees. EU students can’t apply for a UK student loan, maintenance grant or the Access to Learning Fund. Well, they can apply but they’ll be turned down, so there’s not much point.
The SOCRATES-ERASMUS and Leonardo Programmes all splash out grants to promote the exchange of students and academic staff around Europe.
As for those from another part of the world, finance becomes a whole other kettle of kippers entirely.
Although a fair whack of Push's tuition fees garb is also relevant to students from other parts of the UK, there are a few extra things to bear in mind if you like haggis, leeks or ...potatoes? Or even if you don't like any of the above but come from Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, this next section is worth a read.
Welsh and EU students studying in Wales:
Welsh universities stayed off the top-up fee bandwagon for one year longer than their English counterparts. Students starting in 2006 were only charged £1,200 and then applied for a loan so that they didn't actually have to pay it until after graduation. From 2007 though, St David joined St George's pricey march on tuition fees, charging up to £3,000.
To sweeten the sledgehammer a bit, in 2008 Welsh (and EU) students studying at a Welsh university will be able to apply for a fee grant of up to £1,890. Handily, this covers the increase in fees and will go to everyone – it doesn’t matter how much your parents earn. Welsh students will, therefore, only have to carry on taking out a loan to cover the rest of the fees.
Welsh students studying elsewhere in the UK:
It's a different matter, however, if a Welsh student goes to study elsewhere in the UK. They won't be eligible for this tuition fees grant but they will be able to take out a loan to cover the whole tuition fees cost - the same as English students' tuition fees loans. As they'll have to borrow more, escaping the homeland will saddle Welsh students with a bigger debt than staying close to home and bagging a grant. See www.studentfinancewales.co.uk for further info.
Students from elsewhere in the UK:
Those from other parts of the UK – Northern Ireland, England, etc. – wanting to study in Wales will have to sort things out with their own LEAs.
Also, there are a couple of jargon issues to get your tongue around – what’s known as the Access to Learning Fund in England is known as Financial Contingency Funds west of the border. And the grant that Welsh students may get to help meet general living costs is, officially, an Assembly Learning Grant (ALG), rather than a maintenance grant. Apart from the difference in name, both of these work in exactly the same way in each country. Leeks and potatoes are both veg at the end of the day.
Finally, a national Bursary Scheme was kicked into touch for students studying in Wales from 2007-8. See www.studentfinancewales.co.uk for more details.
Much like the average Scot's desire to keep all things Scottish a healthy distance from the anglo rif-raf (the national football team and separate league one case in point), there are different student funding arrangements north of the border.
For starters, instead of dealing with an LEA, Scots turn to their Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) www.saas.gov.uk, who are the folk to go to for quandries of all flavours.
Scottish (and EU) students studying in Scotland:
Students do not have to pay tuition fees. They don't even have to pay the recently-scrapped one-off ‘graduate endowment’ of around £2,200 any more. Like an extremely generous Father Christmas, the SAAS simply pays your fees directly to your university.
Scottish students studying elsewhere in the UK:
For knocking a financial gift horse in the chops, Scots venturing south of the border will have to pay the tuition fees charged by the university – up to £3,145 a year in England and Northern Ireland and now Wales too. Students will be able to take out a tuition fees loan to cover the fees until after they graduate. This will, of course, mean racking up far more tuition fee debt than if they’d been a bit more braveheart about matters. Students from low-income backgrounds may be eligible for the Students Outside Scotland Bursary, which replaces up to £2,000 of this maintenance loan, and non-mature students might also get some extra loan.
Students from elsewhere in the UK:
Non-scots won't alas get off scot-free (geddit) fees-wise but they won't have to pay as much: around £1,775 a year (£2,775 for medics) to study in Scotland. Just the same as if they were studying at an English university, students can apply for tuition fee loans.
There are loads of ifs and buts to all this and proving yourself Scottish takes more than having a penchant for deep-fried confectionary. It’s best to check out SAAS’s website www.saas.gov.uk or get hold of the booklet they produce called ‘Student Support in Scotland’.
Be sure to apply to the SAAS for this support, or the university will expect to get some kind of fee off you.
Extra bits and pieces:
When it comes to living expenses, students from Scotland are kept in books and beer through a combination of means-tested loans and bursaries. Not unlike the English system, except the amounts are slightly different and, rather than a maintenance grant, most students on low incomes get what’s called a young students' bursary, currently a maximum of £2,755.
Scottish students can usually also get some kind of help in paying the cost of their travel to university. Beware of the small print though - there are more conditions than a dodgy record contract: no local travel costs, no sneaky easyjet flights, and students who are eligible for this sort of funding will still find themselves forking out for the first £155 of their travel costs.
There are specific bursaries available to Scottish students with children, dependants, disabilities or those who have been in care. Being Scottish is also one of the factors that might qualify you for all sorts of charitable scholarships and bursaries.
NORTHERN IRISH STUDENTS AND STUDYING IN NORTHERN IRELAND
Just a couple of things to be aware of. Firstly, although the support package (loans, grants, fee loans etc.) is broadly the same, lucky people from Northern Ireland get a slightly bigger maintenance grant than those from England – £3,335 rather than £2,835.
To make up the difference, the amount of loan they get is reduced by up to £1,700 rather than up to £1,200 – basically, they get the same amount of money to live on as students from England, but those from the poorest homes will get more as a grant rather than a loan and so won’t have to pay as much back. Not bad, eh?
The only other remotely significant differences are administrative – the things that are known as LEAs in England and Wales are called Education & Library Boards (ELBs) in Northern Ireland.
For online applications, ELB contact details and more info, see www.studentfinanceni.co.uk which does much the same kind of thing for Northern Ireland that www.studentfinancedirect.co.uk does for England.
Viewing the views of the UK uni experience
For international students it can be tough to get an idea of what it's actually like to study in the UK. Push's profiles go some of the way, but it might be handy if other international students could somehow project their thoughts across some worldwide network and anyone could look in.
Well, that's the idea behind Projectorhead, a YouTube channel featuring videos made by overseas students studying in the UK about their experiences. The scheme is being run by Education UK, who are basically a bunch of guys at the British Council who big up UK unis to students abroad who might want to study here.
Make your own video and win stuff
If you're an international student who's already in the UK and you reckon you have more than a streak of Spielberg, you can post your own videos. What's more, if your video ends up top ranked, you could win you could win prizes like an Apple iPod Touch, a Nintendo Wii, a Canon Camcorder or a Panasonic camera. Even if you don't win, it'll still get seen all over the world and it's a worthwhile cause.
The British Council
The Government-backed website promoting UK education and culture to our foreign friends. Useful information about how the UK higher education system works for international students, how to apply and potential sources of funding.
Central Applications Office (Ireland)
Deals with Higher Education applications for the Republic of Ireland. Search for a course or access the applications handbook.
Information about studying in the UK from the British Council (see above)
The international student site with study abroad information, services and resources designed specifically for you.
UKCOSA (The Council for International Education)
Advice for anyone from abroad thinking of studying in the UK and for anyone in the UK thinking of studying abroad. Really helpful.
Univisits lays on tours of universities in the UK and Ireland. There are special tour packages or they can tailor one to suit your needs - this includes travel, accommodation and food. It's just like being a rock star...sort of.
Parcel to Go
Living in another country for a year is a fantastic experience that everyone should have the opportunity to do. However, choosing 20kg of your possessions that are important enough to take on the plane is both upsetting and futile. The peeps at Parcel2go let you have your cake and eat it by offering an international courier at student friendly prices, so you can take all of your shoes along for that year in Rome...
Prepare for Success
Aimed at international students, this site gives a great guide to starting life at uni and good tips on how to settle into academic life.