Education System in UK
The education system in the U.K. (except for Scotland) comprises four main sectors: primary, secondary, further education, and higher education. Full-time education is compulsory for all children aged between 5 and 16 (inclusive). Students ordinarily attend primary until they are 11 years old and secondary until they are 16. They may then continue their secondary studies for a further two years (sixth form), leading most typically to an A-level qualification, although other qualifications and courses exist, including the BTEC and the International Baccalaureate. The Education and Skills Act 2008 raised the leaving age for compulsory education to 18. Stateprovided schools are free of charge to students, and there is also a tradition of independent schooling, but parents may choose to educate their children by any suitable means. Higher education typically begins with a three-year bachelor’s degree. Post-graduate degrees include master’s degrees (usually one year and/or research) and PhDs (at least three years). Universities require a royal charter in order to issue degrees, and the state finances all but one with low fee-levels for students. While the four countries of the U.K. have differing approaches to vocational education and training (VET), the training and qualifications are interchangeable and of the same standard. Three of the countries (England, Wales, and Northern Ireland) share a common system of external qualifications within the National Qualifications Framework. There are separate bodies within each country responsible for regulating these qualifications.
England has approximately one-and-a-half million full- and part-time students studying in higher education. The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education monitors and assesses standards across the range of qualifications offered. Further Education (FE) focuses on development of business and work skills and encourages ongoing lifelong learning and a skilled, efficient and productive workforce in England. The Learning and Skills Council and associated bodies formulate policy and administer further education. In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, higher education bodies are independent, self-governing institutions active in teaching, research, and scholarship. The state, not the institution, issues degrees and higher education qualifications. In Wales, the National Assembly is responsible for the broad direction of policy for further education through the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning (DELLS). There are 12 universities and 25 further education colleges and institutions in Wales. English-language programmes are offered within many of these and access to free language support is available at all Wales’ institutions. Over 8,000 international students currently study in Wales, with about 10% of these from non-European Union (EU) countries. Most of the universities are located fairly close to the southern and western coasts.
How Much Does It Cost To Study In The UK?
UK tuition fees are frequently a source of controversy, with prices having risen to eye-watering levels for home students (UK/EU) in recent years. Now, UK and EU students at English universities are required to pay up to £9,250 (~US$13,050) per year. International undergraduate tuition fees vary considerably, starting at around £10,000 (~US$14,130) and going up to £38,000 (~US$53,700) or more for medical degrees (source: Reddin Survey of University Tuition Fees). At all levels, humanities and social sciences degrees tend to cost the least, while laboratory and clinical degree programs are markedly more expensive, but when you combine these fees with the average cost of living in the UK, around £12,200 (~US$16,950) per year, then it can be hard to see how it’s possible to study in the UK without it costing you a small fortune. The total average cost of studying in the UK is estimated to be at least £22,200 (~US$31,380) per year, with studying in London likely to be significantly more expensive. While these costs may be daunting, remember that most UK universities offer shorter programs compared to countries such as the US (three years for the average undergraduate degree instead of four, and one year for a master’s degree instead of two), so you may be able to subtract a year's worth of fees and living costs from your total budget.
If these figures haven’t been enough to put you off studying in the UK, here’s a closer look at what you’ll be spending your money on, and how Brexit may affect your costs.
UK tuition fees – international students
For international students, undergraduate fees for 2017/18 started at around £10,000 (US$14,130) for lecture-based courses, going up to £38,000 (~US$53,700) or more for a top undergraduate medical degree. You can view the 10 most affordable universities for international undergraduates here.
At postgraduate level, international fees for classroom-based programs in 2017/18 started at around £11,000 (~US$15,545) and went up to £32,000 (~US$45,200). For laboratory-based programs, average annual fees vary from £12,000 (~US$16,940) to £27,200 (~US$38,400). You can view the most affordable UK universities for international postgraduates here.
Students’ cost of living in the UK
Current UK student visa requirements stipulate that you must have at least £1,015 (~US$1,435) in your bank account for each month you plan to stay in the UK anywhere outside of London. This works out as £12,180 (~US$17,200) per year.
If you wish to study in London, you’ll need to budget considerably more - at least £1,265 (~US$1,800) per month, the equivalent of £15,180 (~US$21,500) a year.
When you’re here, you can make the cost of living in the UK more affordable by taking advantage of student discounts – for example, students in London can get an 18+ Student Oyster photocard, giving you 30 percent off travelcards and bus/tram season tickets, and students all over the country can apply for an NUS Extra Card for a small fee.
One other way to beat the banker and make your money go further is to study somewhere in the UK where the cost of living is cheaper. According to the Natwest Student Living Index 2017, Welsh capital Cardiff is the most affordable city for students in the UK, followed in the top three by Aberdeen in Scotland, and Durham in north-east England.
Most students live in university halls of residence in their first year before moving into rented private accommodation in their following years. Many universities offer both self-catered and catered halls of residence, with food included in the price of rent for the latter.
The biggest difference in the cost of living in London compared to the rest of the UK is in rent, with University College London (UCL) estimating accommodation expenses of £8,073 (~US$11,400) per academic year (nine months/39 weeks). However, you may be able to find more affordable accommodation in university halls or a flat share.
The results of Save the Student’s National Student Accommodation Survey 2017 found that students spend an average of £125 (~US$175) per week on rent in the UK – with a huge regional variation: students in Northern Ireland spent only £91 (~US$129) a week, which is exactly half the amount spent by those in London (£182/US$257). Unless bills are included, you’ll probably spend a further £70 per month (~US$100) on bills for utilities and the internet.
Other average living costs in the UK
- A weekly food shop will likely cost you about £30/$42, and a meal in a pub or restaurant can be about £12/$17
- Depending on your course, you’ll likely spend at least £30 a month on books and other course materials
- Your mobile phone bill is likely to be at least £15/$22 a month
- Gym membership costs roughly £32/$45 a month, but you may be able to get a student discount
- A typical night out (outside of London) costs about £30/$42 in total
- In terms of entertainment, if you want to watch TV in your room, you need a TV license – this is £147 (~US$107) per year. A cinema ticket costs roughly £10/$14
- Depending on your spending habits, you might spend £35-55 (US$49-77) or so on clothing each month
How to apply for UK Student Visa?
Required documents for University:
- Completed International Student Form
- Copy of Passport
- Academic (Transcript/ Character)
- Certificate of English Proficiency (IELTS/ TOFEL/ PTE Test/ Others)
- SOP (Staatement of Purpose)
- Reference Letter
- Work Experience Cert. (If available)
Visa Application process:
- UK visa application frorm (Online/ Manually)
- Valid Passport
- Two photograph
- CAS Letter
- Cover Letter
- Proof of funds to support yourself and pay for your course
- Financial documents (28 days bank deposit)
- Health Surcharge+ Visa fee payment
- Medical Examination Report (through panel of doctors)
Visa Decision :
Student will usually get a decision on your visa within 3 weeks , students can opt for the Priority Visa Service or the Super Priority Visa Service to shorten the visa processing time for an added fee. Under the Priority Visa Application, the UK Visas and Immigration aims to make a decision on your Priority Visa application and contact you to let you know that your passport is ready to be collected within 5 working days from when you submit your biometric information. Under the Super Priority Visa Application, the same work is completed within 24 Hrs. Candidates should note that the cost of this service is in addition to the visa application fee and is non-refundable if the visa application is refused, or in exceptional cases if it takes longer to process.
UK scholarships and student funding
Home (UK/EU) students are eligible for loans, grants and other forms of funding to cover their UK tuition fees, with differing amounts of funding depending on location. While student loans for home students tend to cover all tuition fees, the additional loan to cover the cost of living in the UK often falls short of the amount actually needed. In the 2017/18 academic year, the maximum living loan was UK£8,430 (~$11,900) for students outside London and up to £11,002 (~US$15,500) for those who study in London. In both cases, this is likely to be a few thousand pounds short of your annual living expenses.Undergraduate home students at private UK universities (of which there are only three) can still apply for tuition fee loans for most courses, as well as maintenance loans and maintenance grants. However, the tuition fee loan might not cover the full amount.A large range of scholarships to study in the UK are also offered by the government, individual universities, independent organizations and various charities. The Education UK website provides an overview of scholarships available from the British Council and other organizations. It is also worth checking to see what scholarships and support schemes are available from the government and other organizations in your own country.
Prominent UK scholarships for international students include:
- Chevening Scholarships – Government-funded UK scholarships open to outstanding students with leadership potential from around the world, to study at postgraduate level at accredited UK universities.
- Marshall Scholarships – Scholarships for high-achieving US students to study in the UK.
- Commonwealth Scholarships and fellowships – UK scholarships offered by member governments to citizens of other Commonwealth countries.
UK scholarships are more widely available at postgraduate level, with relatively few offered for undergraduate students. However, always check with your chosen university, as support is often available for exceptional undergraduate students.For a longer list of prominent international scholarships to study in the UK, see this article. For advice on scholarship applications, download our guide on how to find scholarships to study abroad.
Popular Cities in UK for Education
Study in London
Following are the best universities in London for international students:
- London South Bank University
- Middlesex University
- University of West London
- Kingston University
- BPP University
Study in Edinburgh
Following are the best universities in Edinburgh for international students:
- University of Edunburgh
- Heriot-watt University
- Queen Margaret University
- Edinburgh Napier University
Study in Manchester
Following are the best universities in Manchester for international students:
- Bolton University
- University of Manchester
- University of Salford
- Manchester Metropolitan University
Study in Glasgow
Following are the best universities in Glasgow for international students:
- University of Glasgow
- Glasgow Caledonian University
- University of Strathclyde
Study in Birmingham
Following are the best universities in Birmingham for international students:
- Aston Univeristy
- Birmingham City University
- Newman University
- University of Birmingham
Country and Culture (Geography, History, Society & Economy)
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 had a tumultuous history. In early times, the region’s predominantly Celtic people were invaded and influenced by a range of different nationalities, including Romans, Norsemen, Vikings, Saxons, and Normans. While the U.K. was for a long time a major coloniser (i.e., during the time of the British Empire), exporting its culture, values, and the English language around the world, it is now increasingly a nation of immigrants, with a diverse mix of European, Asian, and African nationalities influencing the culture as a whole. At the same time, British values continue to find voice around the world in such institutions as the Commonwealth, and to varying extents in the systems and structures ofthe countries of the former British Empire. The current population of the U.K. is around 62 million. England is the most densely populated (approximately 52 million), with the majority of people living in the south east; Scotland’s population is around 6 million; Wales is about 3 million; and Northern Ireland is just under 2 million. English is the main language, but many other languages are also spoken due to immigration.
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. For more information on the distinct cultures, please check out the “More information” section of web links at the end of the U.K. write-up. The average age is just over 39. 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. While it has now joined the EU, the U.K. has stayed out of the European Economic Monetary Union, so the currency remains the Pound Sterling.
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.
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.
Work while studying in UK
International students are allowed to work in the UK while studying, only part-time. There are many job offers and opportunities for international students in the UK. As an international student, you’ll work up to twenty (20) hours every week during your study period. Additionally, you’ll work in the united kingdom as long as your university is on a listing of the varied universities and institutions whose students can work alongside their study. International students who study in an exceedingly full-time program at a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. level may need a maximum of 20 working hours per week. Also, they’re allowed to possess full-time work during the vacations and summer for bachelor students.Your eligibility to work in the UK while studying depends on two major criteria: set by your university and set by the people of state-run official institutions. First, you need to make sure that your university doesn’t constrain you from working before dealing with state officials. for instance, looking at your study course your university may limit working hours to you, other than 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’s no need to worry because there are still many options available to you. However, before getting into hunt part-time jobs you need to check if you’re eligible for such work.It all starts together with your Tier 4 visa, the official student visa within the UK. the primary criteria you need to check is your age. If you’re under 16 and don’t have a Tier 4 (General 4) you’re not qualified to figure within the UK.
The Graduate Route
From 1 July 2021, international students who have successfully completed an undergraduate or master’s degree will be able to benefit from two years’ work experience in the UK upon graduation, through the new Graduate Route . Students who complete their PhD will be able to stay for three years.
Here is everything you need to know:
- The Graduate Route will be available to international students who have a valid student visa at the time of application and have successfully completed a degree at undergraduate level or above at a Higher Education Provider with a track record of compliance.
- Successful applicants on this route will be able to stay and work, or look for work, in the UK at any skill level for a maximum period of two years if they have successfully completed an undergraduate or master’s degree. PhD graduates will be able to stay for three years. Graduates will be able to switch into skilled work once they have found a suitable job.
- The new route will be launched on 1 July 2021, meaning that any eligible student who graduates after this date will be able to apply for the route. This includes students who have already started their courses.
- The Graduate Route will require a new visa application, which will only be possible from inside the UK.
- It will include the payment of a visa fee of £700 and the Immigration Health Surcharge at the full rate of £624 per year.
- Students will also need to know the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) they used for their most recent Student (or Tier 4) application in order to apply for the Graduate Route.
If you have been studying online in your home country due to Covid-19, you can still apply for the Graduate Route, provided you meet the other requirements of the route. This is part of the UK government's Covid-19 student visa concessions. The guidance states:
- Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 via distance learning, and who have not previously entered the UK to study that course, will be able to make an application if they make a successful student visa application and arrive in the UK either before their visa ends or by 27 September 2021, whichever is sooner.
- Students who began a course of 12 months or less in 2020 or 2021 who have existing permission as a Student to study that course, and who have already travelled to the UK during that period of permission, will be able to make an application as long as they are present in the UK before the end date of their permission.
- Students sponsored for a course lasting longer than 12 months will not be prevented from being eligible for the Graduate Route as a result of any distance learning that took place either in the UK or overseas between the period of 24 January 2020 and 27 September 2021.
What impact will Brexit have?
The UK’s decision to exit the European Union (Brexit) means many EU students are concerned that their tuition fees could increase. However, there’s no sign the government plans to increase fees yet. In fact, so far many UK universities have pledged to keep tuition fees fixed at the same rate for current EU students for the duration of their course. It’s also been confirmed that EU students enrolling at UK universities in both autumn 2018 and autumn 2019 will remain eligible for the same fees and financial aid as domestic students throughout their course, even after the UK leaves the EU in March 2018.
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. Students from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland do not need a visa to study in the U.K. However, they need to meet the entry requirements of the course they wish to undertake within further and/or higher education, including English-language level requirements (e.g., IELTS).
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 counselor 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.
Education U.K. Training from the British Council
In recognition of the work agents do to promote the U.K., a certificated online course has been designed for agents by the British Council. This global training programme is delivered and managed in-country.The purpose of the course is to:
- Develop agents’ capacity to work effectively with U.K. institutions
- Improve knowledge and understanding of the U.K. as a study destination
- Increase knowledge of U.K. study programmes
- Enable agents/representatives to provide high-quality information, resources, and services to students seeking an international education
- Provide agents/representatives with the skills and resources needed to provide relevant, accurate, and trustworthy information and trustworthy information.
?The course is delivered online over a period of eight weeks with secure access. It comprises two units:
- Studying and living in the U.K.
- Costs and finance
- Working while studying
- Visas, immigration, and dependants
- Why choose a U.K. education
- How the U.K. education system works
- English-language learning
- School and tutorial college education
- Further and work-based education
- Higher education – undergraduate study
- Higher education – post-graduate study
- Study for a U.K. qualification in your own country
- Resources and support
Candidates complete online assessments following each unit and the course culminates in a final (written) formal assessment conducted under exam conditions at the local British Council office. Please visit the British Council or contact Agent.Enquiries@britishcouncil.org for further details.
www.directgov.uk – Public services in the U.K.: info on education and student finances for EU citizens
www.scit.wlv.ac.uk/ukinfo/ – Interactive map locations of universities throughout U.K.
www.educationuk.org – British Council website with links to the different countries in the U.K.
www.ukstatistics.gov.uk – Office for National Statistics, U.K.
www.economywatch.com – Economy Watch site – Economy, Investment, and Finance Reports
www.britishcouncil.org – British Council
www.culture.gov.uk – Department of Culture, Media, and Sport
www.dius.gov.uk – Department of Innovation and University Skills (Department of Business and Skills) – covers both further education and higher education
www.ucas.com – UCAS manages all applications for university-level courses in the U.K.
www.ukcisa.org – U.K. Council for International Students Affairs – info on fees, funding, and support
www.iefa.org – International Education Financial Aid website
www.i-studentadvisor.com – I-Student Advisor website – international interactive education guides
www.uk.internationalstudent.com – Comprehensive information for prospective international students
www.nus.org.uk – National Union of Students: advice on living in the U.K.
www.ukvisas.gov.uk – Home Office – U.K. Border Agency: general information on student visas
www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.au/studying in the uk/ – Detailed information on student visa requirements
www.ielts.org – International English Language Testing System: English language proficiency testing?