8 Things You Should Know Before Studying in the UK
Looking to study in the UK?
As a top destination for education, the United Kingdom offers world-class qualification with a modern learning environment.
The quality of education offered in universities in the UK is unparalleled. Being a multicultural society, it’s extremely cosmopolitan in nature and is usually seen as the gateway to Europe. You will have a wide range of choices in terms of institutions, subjects and courses, at economical rates.
Now that you have decided to study overseas, it’s time for you to learn a little more about your study destination.
Adventure and learning await, but at the same time, you must also be prepared for things like different customs, new languages and a new education system.
As you embark on your new journey, here are a few things you should know before going to the UK.
1. Embrace the Culture
Due to the multi-ethnic nature of society, living and studying in the UK will give you an opportunity to not only experience the British culture and improve your English speaking skills, but you’ll also get a chance to interact and get along with people from different walks of life.
The country is home to numerous ethnic groups, as it hosts various nationalities from across the globe. Hence, embracing the culture is an important aspect in the UK, especially for any student who is looking to blend in with others.
The UK has some incredible places like the East End, Hampstead Heath, and the Soho. Hyde Park and Regent’s Park are great places to visit if you want to take a short break from the hectic city life. You can even board a train to the countryside and enjoy the fresh country air, fun-filled activities and delicious food.
2. Get to know the grading system
The UK university grading system and the system of teaching, work slightly different and can be a little confusing at first for international students.
UK universities tend to place a lot of importance on independent study and personal responsibility, which could benefit your personal and professional growth.
Your UK study programme will focus solely on one subject for the entire three years – so it’s best to make sure that you have a clear idea of what you want for your future career before you decide your course.
The grades go from:
A. ‘First’ percentile above 70% or higher (the best grade, equivalent to an A in the US).
B. A ‘2:1′ (Percentile between 60-69%) or ‘2:2′ (Percentile between 50-59%)
C. ‘Third’ which means you’ve passed but gotten the lowest grade percentile between 45-49%.
3. Student Visa …or another visa?
The most common student visa type for international students is the General student visa (Tier 4), which permits you to work part-time.
But there are some other student visa options too. You can apply for a short-term study visa for a period of six or 11 months, if you’re over the age of 16 and if you’re studying an English language course.
The visa documents are clear and easily understandable, but in case you face any difficulty to understand the terms and guidelines, feel free to ask your institution’s student services for help.
The earliest you can apply for a Tier 4 Student Visa is 3 months before the start of a course.
If you are planning to work while studying at a university in the UK, you are advised to apply for the same visa, six months prior to the beginning of your course.
Students from non-EU countries are limited to 20 hours of work a week, so you can make the most of it and earn your own allowance.
4. Solving your Accommodation Dilemma
Now that you have the opportunity to experience life in the UK, here are some accommodation options that are available to you.
Your living arrangements will mostly depend on the city you will be located in as well as your monthly budget.
The types of accommodation in the UK are self-catered, dorms or even large halls. If you want to know more about the housing arrangements, the institutions will have a guide-book, explaining all the types of student housing options available.
Similar to the American dorms, the halls are the most traditional type of accommodation. There are catered halls where all facilities are part of a package, including dining amenities. The availability of self-catered halls will let you choose your own meals.
Majority of the students typically prefer to stay in on-campus accommodation, be it halls or flats. The reason for that is because, when you get to stay close to your college, it cuts down the commuting costs. Moreover, this is also the best way to meet new people and make friends.
5. Various cuisines at your table/ Numerous dishes you can dig into
In the UK, you can find numerous cuisines to try and there are many restaurants you could check out. Starting from the local fish and chips to authentic Singaporean food, everything is at your disposal here.
Although you’ll be tempted to get a hoard of food from your home, there is a wide range of grocery stores around the country stocked up with every product you can imagine. So, you can even cook traditional Singaporean food, in case you crave your mom’s cooking.
Try Broadway Market and Dalston’s Street Feast for alternative local hotspots. If you wish to not spend a lot of money to eat, the city often has great offers that can be found online and lots of different discount schemes that you can sign up for, like Tastecard.
Also, have you heard about the student discount? The International Student Identity Card offers great student discounts in many shops and restaurants as well!
6. Cards for Transportation
There are lots of ways to get around the UK, including trains, buses, ferries, trams, bikes, and taxis. For those studying in the UK, you get 30% off on travel cards and Bus & Tram Pass season tickets. This discount can be availed through an Oyster photocard.
You can also get a 16-25 railcard for just £30. If you plan to take the train to other parts of the UK on the weekends, the extra add on will pay for itself in just a couple of trips.
The Brit Rail pass is another feasible mode of transportation for day trips or weekend travel around the UK while studying abroad.
You even get to travel via train, without any limit, for a certain number of days each month. You can only pre-order this feature, so it’s best to do this in advance of your departure date.
7. Opening a Bank Account
Before arriving, it’s very important that you look into opening a basic bank account in the UK. Not only you will be able to keep your money safe and pay your bills, but it’ll also be the most effective way of managing money while you are studying.
When choosing a bank, check out the fees and services offered. Oh! And remember to do your research and learn more about the benefits and documentation requirements for a particular bank.
Also, ensure that you carry a debit card with you so that you will be able to access the money that you have back home. Most of the UK banks will allow international students to open accounts with them, but you may need to apply online first and then visit a branch near your university to confirm your details when you arrive.
Considering the duration and charge, you can even have money sent from home to your bank account in a bank in the UK. UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) does provide additional information for international students looking to open a bank account.
8. Student offers!
As a student, you tend to buy a lot of stuff – from books, tech gadgets to new clothes. Some universities in the UK have fairs in the initial week of college. This is a good opportunity where you can avail discounts on a large number of student facilities.
There is even the National Union of Students, through which you can avail various discounts facilitated just for students.
Generally, student vouchers give you incredible discounts for various things, ranging from clothes, travel expenses, to furniture.
One thing to notice is that it’s a little harder to get good deals on books. However, you can always find second-hand textbooks, share them with your classmates or sell your new books when you’re done to save some money.
Making use of a library facility would be very beneficial. Visit the university library as often as you can. Many textbooks can be borrowed and it won’t be necessary for you to buy books at all.
So, now that you are almost prepared and are aware of a bunch of things that you needed to know, you are pretty much ready to start planning to go to your preferred study destination in the UK.