UK: Careers at your doorstep
Providing a strong foundation for university and diverse programmes
The UK higher education system is internationally recognised. Official bodies such as the Qualifications Curriculum Authority (QCA) guarantee the standard and quality of a university's teaching and general facilities. The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) publishes its findings every five years. The assessment results are freely available on the Internet. The Higher Education Funding Council also provides information on quality assurance through the UK-wide Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education.
There is wide variety in course offerings at various levels. Some UK universities are among the oldest in the world, while others are among the newest. Many provide degrees with a strong vocational foundation and enjoy good links with businesses and professional organisations. Another advantage is the opportunity to hone English language skills or learn it as part of the university preparation or foundation programme.
Students enrolled in a course of six months and above are eligible for free healthcare from the National Health Service (NHS).
Furthermore, unlike the equivalent programmes in other countries, most UK undergraduate degrees are intensive and three years in duration, while postgraduate programmes can be completed in one year. The degrees enable students to join the workforce sooner, so it becomes financially affordable.
Students wishing to pursue academic education may select a three-year undergraduate degree followed by postgraduate studies or research. Entrance qualification is a minimum of three A level qualifications or its equivalent.
As an alternative, students can enrol in an access, foundation or bridging course before enrolling in the degree programme. Students who want vocational training can combine training with job-related skills. Aside from universities and institutes, the UK also has "Further Education" (FE) colleges that offer courses to adults over 18 years of age that make them more employable. FE institutions also offer courses that improve a student's basic literacy and numeracy abilities. By combining vocational education with academic study, students gain skills in broad occupational areas, together with an academic content that is accepted as an entry to a degree course.
Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) coordinates applications for full-time first degrees, foundation degrees, Higher National Diplomas, etc. "Apply" is the online application system. One can apply to five institutions through the UCAS. Students who wish to apply for a programme in medicine, applications must be submitted before October 15. The same is applicable for those who want to apply to Oxford or Cambridge. Some of these competitive institutions invite prospective students for interviews either on their campus or by telephone. Students can track their application status on UCAS.
Eligibility to use UCAS Apply
In order to be eligible to use UCAS Apply, an applicant should live outside the UK, can apply for five separate courses, be able to provide an e-mail address of an academic referee along with an Academic Reference in electronic format and pay by debit/credit card.
Prospective international students should demonstrate proficiency in English by furnishing an IELTS score. Failure to meet the required level of English will result in the student having to enrol in an English language preparation course. Entry requirement may vary for each type of course and subject. College prospectuses will list them under "minimum entry requirements".
As part of the UCAS form, students are asked to write a personal statement. This descriptive account provides an opportunity to speak about the applicant's academic and personal goals and tell the institutions not just about the academic capability but also the kind of activities undertaken both within school and outside.
October 15 is the deadline for Oxbridge applications and medical programmes. International students can apply until the end of June for all courses but the earlier one applies, the better the chances. Most institutions will give conditional acceptance if a student applies before the final year exam results are declared. Each institution sets its own admission criteria. There are no national entrance exams for universities. Academic records of applicants are reviewed as part of the admissions process. The university year is usually from September to April, with intakes in both September and January. As the application process is competitive and deadlines vary, it is best to apply six to eight months before the start date of the desired programme of study. It is also advisable to apply to multiple institutions to avoid disappointment.
Fees, Finances and Scholarships
UK course fees vary depending on the intended programme of study and the duration of study. The cost of living varies between different regions of the UK. It is safest to allocate £650 to £800 per month towards the same. Students will need to contact the universities and colleges being considered for precise information on course fees and financial help. Most universities and colleges will also display this information on their websites. However, competition for study grants is intense and most often require students to be nominated by the government. Students wishing to attend an institution in the UK should apply for scholarship one year before commencement of the course. Some institutions offer bursaries or fee waivers towards room and board. The nearest British Council will be able to provide information on scholarships.
International students can become members of innumerable clubs and associations based on their interests. These help foster friendships, encourage them to explore their potential and provide a platform to meet new people, learn and grow. Students can also travel, visit various historical places and take part in various sports events on campus and outside. There also various cultural outlets and avenues for students to get involved in.
Universities and colleges in the UK have excellent facilities for research, recreation and learning. They also boast of well-equipped gyms and counselling centres to promote good health and well-being. Most institutions also offer dorms, home stays or flats to overseas students.
Comprehensive information on studies in the UK https://study-uk.britishcouncil.org/
Undergraduate Common Application www.ucas.com
Advice for international students
The Tier 4 Student Visa replaces the old UK Student Visa. To apply for a student visa, prospective students must secure a place in a British institution for full-time study (minimum 15 hours of classroom study per week), must be able to meet all costs including tuition, accommodation and maintenance and show proof of funds.
Students who want to take up short-term courses (of six months duration or less) may qualify for a student visa but would need some clearances. This visa does not allow them to take up any employment. It is essential that applicants state that they intend to return to their home country after completion of course.
Successful students are allowed to work for 20 hours per week in term time and 40 hours per week during holidays.
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