So you’re considering studying abroad, and you’d like to narrow down your search a little bit. You’re probably weighing your options between the US, the UK, Australia, or elsewhere depending on the course you plan to pursue and the university that best caters to it before finally deciding upon which country/ university you’ll be best suited for. If you’ve decided on the UK, there are a number of pros and cons you’ll need to take stock of. Here’s a general overview-
First off, and everybody’s bugbear, the UK is expensive and scholarships are not easy to attain. Your tuition fees will be high and so will your cost of living, which will include rent, food, drink, travelling within the city and other miscellaneous debits to your account that are part and parcel of living a student life, in a mainly responsible, albeit occasionally, not, manner. Living in student digs has the advantage that they’re more affordable; you’ll make a large number of friends when surrounded by other students. Plus, you don’t have to go through the hassle of handling your own apartment while studying, and if your place of stay is situated in a vibrant part of the city, so much the better.
Our first point is one that hits London students the hardest and students considering the rest of the UK somewhat less so, as not all cities in the UK are as expensive as London. Also, students are allowed to take up part time jobs, often on campus, for up to 20 hours per week, giving them the opportunity of earning some pocket money (to be spent on course books and other study related matters, of course) in their spare time.
The most advantageous aspect of pursuing your studies in the UK is that while the undergrad courses last the standard three years, most master’s programmes last one year. Hence, the total cost of a one year master’s degree in the UK costs less than the equivalent two year master’s programme in the US, with the added advantage that you’re done with it in half the time, and entering the job market that much sooner.
The UK is home to a host of excellent universities, including Cambridge, Oxford, SOAS, the LSE, King’s College of London, Imperial, UCL, University of Sussex, Warwick, York and others, each known for its specialisations and stellar faculty.
Chances are high that whatever your preferred subject, there is a university in the UK that ranks among the top five globally for that subject and it would definitely be a good academic move for you to study in such a university. The degree will be globally recognised and thus making it easier for you to find a job after completing your studies.
Studying in a good university also implies that there’ll be a fair number of international students, so the exposure to a wide range of different cultures is phenomenal. Some of the more popular UK universities have more international than national students, a matter of some concern to the university boards. What this means for you as a student is that the people you will meet, and the friends you’ll make, will be from different countries across the globe. At the postgraduate level, taking general consensus figures from across the UK, usually one in every three students is international. And the knowledge to be gained from such interaction can only be spoken of in very good ways.
It is said that the UK is one of the most racist places in the world. However, while there are one-off instances of name-calling, these tend to be few and far between. The British are famously polite people, priding themselves on propriety. If you’re good to them, they’ll be good to you.
On a lighter note, the weather and the food are truly as bad as people speak of. No two ways about it. Speaking of London in particular, there are a few good sushi joints, but chances are the wind will mess up your hair on your way to the restaurant, and it’ll rain on your way back. The British take it in their stride, since they really have no choice, and are hence very sympathetic with drenched foreigners seeking refuge in the nearest pubs, going so far as to apologize for jumping straight from spring to winter and skipping ‘that season in between’, and plying you with beer and good humour to help take your mind off your squelching shoes.
But when spring and summer breaks do come rolling around, there’s a host of nearby cities and countries a short flight away, making for some incredibly fun vacations and memories that will last a very long time.
On the whole, studying in the UK will definitely be an experience to remember, as long as you make the most of it.