If you are looking into attending school abroad, you will likely want to consider studying in the UK. The quality of education in the UK is top notch; the country offers some of the best in the world at the primary, high school, and university level. Furthermore, if you achieve residency in the UK, you will be able to attend school for free (or highly reduced rates). If you are looking to apply to study in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, or Wales, you will first have to apply to school there and be accepted. After you have been accepted into a school you can then apply for a student visa, which will allow you to enter the UK and study there throughout your visa validity period. Today’s blog will therefore provide an overview of the UK education system, including some of the best study options available to students, tuition fees in UK schools, and UK scholarships available to foreign students (including why you need a why study in UK personal statement).

UK Education System

  • The basic UK education system is free for citizens and residents of the country at the primary, secondary, and university level. Students across the country attend state-schools based on where they live.  
  • Near the end of secondary school (also known as high school) students take their O-Level examinations. If they wish to attend university, they take their A-levels; most universities requires would-be students to have completed a certain number (and certain types) of A-levels as a condition of entry. 

British “Public” Schools

  • In addition to “private” i.e. state schools, the UK is famous for its “public” schools, which have educated the British elite for centuries. Historically, foreign leaders have also chosen to send their children to public British high schools, due to the quality of education in the UK, and for the social connections graduates achieve. Most of these schools are boarding schools, which cost upwards of tens of thousands of pounds a year. Most have selective admissions policies (enrollment can be dependent on entrance exams and/or social connections).    
  • Some of the most famous public schools in the UK include Eton, Westminster, Harrow, and Gordonstoun. These schools are famous for educating the British royal family, including the next in line to the throne, Prince Charles—the current Prince of Wales— as well as Prince William and Prince Harry. 

UK Universities

  • Foreigners looking to study in the UK at the university level can choose from over 160 world-class facilities, including Oxford, Cambridge, London School of Economics, Kings College, and the University of Edinburgh.  
  • Oxford and Cambridge are perhaps two of the most famous universities in the UK. Because they are state schools, British students do not pay tuition fees in UK universities (or are subject to extremely reduced fees). Foreign students who wish to attend Oxford, Cambridge, or any state or private school in the UK are subject to tuition fees, unless they obtain a scholarship. 
  • Unlike American universities, which most students take four years to complete the average length of a UK degree is three years (meaning most UK students obtain a bachelor’s degree in three years). 
  • Graduate degrees in the UK also usually take one year; PhD students can obtain a PhD in as few as three years (verses the average US time of 5-6 years). 

How to study in the UK

  • If you want to come to study in the UK as a foreign student, you will have to obtain a student visa (a student visa is required for those who are more than 16 years old). 
  • In order to apply for a student visa, you must have already applied for and been accepted to a UK course.  
  • In addition to already having a place reserved for you, you must also fulfill a number of financial and English language requirements. If you are a minor (16-17) you must have permission from your parents. 
  • If you are applying from abroad, you can apply for a student visa at least 6 months prior to when your school starts (and expect to receive a decision on your application within 3 months); if you are applying from within the country, you can apply three months prior (and expect to receive a decision within 8 weeks). 
  • Most people who receive a student visa who are over 18 years old are granted permission to stay in the country for a maximum of 5 years (in the event that they are degree-seeking students); those who are students but who are not degree seeking are generally granted permission to stay for a maximum of two. Both options allow for the possibility of extension.
  • The cost to apply for a student visa is £348 for students applying from abroad, and £475 to either switch to one or extend one that is currently held. Please note that the cost of the course is separate from other financial requirements, including money to support yourself. 
  • Please note that study in England (in London specifically) you will need to demonstrate your possession of at least £1,334 per month (for 9 months) in comparison to £1,023 (if you are studying outside of London. 

How to pursue UK school

  • If you are interested an UK education, you should first decide where you want to apply. Once you know where you want to apply, you should register through the online UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) system (if you are applying for a post-graduate position, you will go through a separate system). Applying involves filling out multiple forms, including a “why study in UK personal statement.” After you apply, you will receive notification of your acceptance. Some schools may require you to attend an interview (or fulfill a number of post-acceptance requirements) in order to be accepted. After you accept your offer, you can look into applying for scholarships or sort out your payment situation. 
  • After you have arranged everything to do with your study options and education, you can pursue the visa that allows you to enter and study in the UK.  
  • Please note that the process of applying to school in the UK is entirely separate from the process of applying for a UK student visa. 

How to obtain a scholarship in the UK

  • Some foreign students may wish to obtain a scholarship in order to supplement the cost of tuition (as previously mentioned, non-UK students must pay tuition, in comparison to UK students and residents). 
  • Different UK schools offer a variety of scholarships to foreign students. In addition, the British government offer a number of different scholarships, as well as loans—known as Government Student Support—to foreign students. 
  • Global scholarships include those that are country specific (meaning that only students from certain countries are eligible to apply (such as the Charles Wallace Pakistan Trust Scholarship—for students from Pakistan) and the Marshall Scholarship (for American students) and the GREAT scholarship (for students from Bangladesh, China, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malaysia, Mexico, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, or Thailand) while others (such as the Chevening Fellowship, are available to all foreign students who wish to come to the UK for the purpose of schools. 
  • Some UK scholarships, like the Chevening, are available to students who wish to pursue graduate level coursework (or undertake coursework of a shorter-duration) while other are available for undergraduate work). 
  • For more information about how to apply to for a scholarship to a UK school, contact us here

FAQs about why study in the UK

  • Is education free in UK?
    • Whether or not education is free in the United Kingdom depends on numerous factors, including the immigration status of the person seeking to enroll in school in the country as well as the education level being pursued. School up until the university level is free in the United Kingdom (i.e. pre-school, middle, secondary school/high school for all UK residents and citizens. School at the university level is not free, but UK residents and citizens may attend at a cost that is far lower than that paid by foreign non-residents. Therefore, if you are a foreigner in the UK who does not have residency, you will likely have to pay a fee in order to attend school in the below-university level (that being said, you will likely be unable to enroll in a UK state school if you do not have residency in the country). Foreigners who lack residency will also likely be subject to foreign-student rates at UK universities (unless they apply for and receive a scholarship). Of course, UK “public” schools (what much of the rest of the world considers “private” schools, due to their reliance on tuition fees instead of public funding) charge foreign and British students equally (however, foreign students looking to attend public schools in the UK will need to apply for Student visa in the absence of a residency permit. 
  • When does academic year of universities start in UK?
    • The majority of the universities in the United Kingdom (and most university undergraduates and graduates) begin their academic year in the Fall (September 1st), in which case the traditional academic year can be said to run until the end of the summer (August 31st). For example, if you plan on attending university next year, your school term will likely begin September 1st, 2023, and end August 31st, 2024. That being said, certain courses may begin at different times throughout the year, meaning that the academic year that applies to you will begin and end at different times than the normal fall—summer schedule. If your course doesn’t start during the traditional time (September 1st) you may choose to enroll during three other official academic “years”.
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