Study in the UK

About 1.8 million undergraduate students study in higher education institutions across the UK; about 20% of them are international students. If you too wish to continue your education in the UK, read on!

UK undergraduate degree courses tend to be specialized. You will focus on your chosen subject from the very beginning of your studies. Most undergraduate degree courses take either three or four years to complete. Due to the wide range of degree courses available, finding the right one requires some research. You should first think about what subjects and careers interest you and what type of degree will help you pursue your dreams. Then you should begin looking through university and college websites to find those institutions that offer what you wish to study. At this stage, you should also be looking for information about the ways in which various courses are taught in different universities. This is important because two courses with the same title may have very different contents in two different institutions. University rankings and league tables may help you narrow down your search, but you should not be guided by rankings alone. Different universities and colleges have strengths in different areas. Make sure that the institution you choose is strong for the subject that interests you! You should also check about the entry requirements for your chosen course and English language requirements for international students. If you have questions that you cannot find answers to on the university or college website, always contact them for answers.

You and your family also need to consider course fees and living expenses in the UK. Universities and colleges charge different amounts, so you need to check their websites for fees information. Financial assistance for international students from the EU may be available from the UK government (see more at www.ukcisa.org.uk). Colleges and universities also usually offer scholarships and bursaries; information about them is available on college and university websites or when you contact them.

Once you have chosen which course you’d wish to follow, it’s time to apply! The UK universities and colleges accept undergraduate applications through the UCAS online application system (www.ucas.com).  The application consists of six parts. In addition to personal details, education and employment information, you need to indicate you course choices, include a letter of reference and a personal statement. You can list up to up to five courses on the application form (with some exceptions).  The reference letter should be written by a teacher who knows you and your achievements well. The personal statement helps colleges and universities assess whether you are suitable for the courses you are applying for. You should write about why you’re interested in a course, what you wish to do after the course, and how your skills and experiences make you suitable for the course. You should take time to prepare the personal statement, have other people read it and critique it, and leave time for rewrites.

Timing is very important when applying to UK universities. The application deadlines can be as early as a year before the course begins (October 15 for courses beginning in autumn the year after). Check the various deadlines on UCAS and college/university websites. You should start researching various courses and colleges and universities and think about applying about 15-18 months before you wish to start your degree course in the UK.

Some useful links:

The online application system UCAS: www.ucas.com

EducationUK for information about studying in the UK and scholarships: http://www.educationuk.org/global/

The Brightside International Student Calculator to estimate the cost of studying in the UK: http://international.studentcalculator.org.

UK Council for International Student Affairs: www.ukcisa.org.uk

Any questions? Contact: Liise Lehtsalu (llehtsalu@yahoo.com)