The UK welcomed 452,225 international students for the year 2020/2021 – Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA); a steady rise from the previous year’s statistics of 408,825. In addition, the number of Tier 4 (Study Visas), issued to non-EU/ EEA/ Swiss Nationals, surged from the previous years by over 69 percent. When compared to 2019, the number of student visas issued to Indian nationals doubled.
Among international students, the UK is considered a top destination to pursue quality study. A degree from the UK holds value internationally, adds to the bearer’s resume, and plays a vital role in defining career prospects; making the UK an obvious country of consideration in one’s academic pursuits.
1. Internationally Recognized Degrees and Qualifications
- The UK is among the most preferred destinations among international students.
- According to the QS World University Ranking, the UK is home to 4 of the top 10 universities in the world.
- Graduate degrees earned from UK’s educational institutions are accepted by employers, universities, and governments around the globe; thus opening opportunities for UK graduates not just in the UK, but around the world.
An estimated 38 percent of Nobel Laureates have studied abroad in the UK, according to the British Council.
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2. Superior Education Quality
- One of the oldest education systems in the world, the UK has built its reputation as a provider of quality education.
- The onus of maintaining superior quality and standards across various programs is the responsibility of the education provider.
- However, to ensure quality is met and every student enjoys an enriching learning experience, UK’s official organization subjects institutions to regular scrutiny.
- Teaching and research standards at UK’s education institutions are periodically accessed and rated against prescribed benchmarks for quality.
- Around 160 Universities and Colleges in the UK are permitted to award degrees under the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications of Degree Awarding Bodies in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland (FHEQ), (FQHEIS)
The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) conducts independent audits comparing colleges and universities across the UK, identifying areas for improvement.
3. The flexibility of the UK Education System
- Range of courses: Students can choose from over 50,000 undergraduate courses offered across 395 plus institutions around the UK; and a myriad of postgraduate and Ph.D. courses.
- Courses of shorter duration: UK courses are shorter in length, and can be completed in a lesser time when compared to their counterparts in other countries. This significantly helps reduce academic, lodging, and other costs associated with studying abroad.
- Sandwich courses: International students have the opportunity to pursue sandwich courses, typically involving 2-year study and placement or internship in the third year.
- Combined degrees: Opting for a combined degree program would mean completing two degrees simultaneously.
- Language Support: Courses in the UK are predominantly taught in English. All institutions provide international students with the support and assistance necessary to acquire the English language skills necessary to complete their degree.
4. The Best Research Infrastructure
- Research Excellence Framework (REF) monitored and accessed 157 UK universities for quality of research; 41 percent of submitted research work is classified as world-leading; 43 percent internationally excellent.
- The UK produces 15.2 percent of the most highly cited researchers in the world, with filed-weighted citations of 1.57 when compared to the global average of 1.0; despite its 0.9 percent global population representation.
5. Study and Work
- International students have the opportunity to gather work experience while pursuing study and research.
- Students can take up part-time jobs, work full-time during semester breaks, and undertake internships or placement opportunities to embellish their resumes with experience.
- Moreover, work and study expose them to practice classroom knowledge in real-life settings, while gaining exposure, building contacts, and first-hand experience in the international job environment.
- Some universities offer courses that have work placements as part of their curriculum; university or college placement cells can be leveraged for placement assistance.
6. New Graduate Route, and Work Permit
- The New Graduate Route came into effect on the 1stJuly, 2021, and was announced to benefit international students that have successfully completed their undergraduate, postgraduate, and Ph.D. studies in the UK.
- Eligible undergraduate and postgraduate students can now stay back in the UK for 2 years; while Ph.D. graduates can stay back for 3 years.
- Under the Graduate Route, candidates can take up any job at any skill or level, while searching for opportunities in their field of interest.
- Valid Tier 4 visa holders can apply for the Graduate Route by applying from within the UK.
- £700 as a visa fee and £624 per year towards Immigration Health Surcharge are to be incurred.
7. Scholarship and Financial Support
- International students with financial apprehensions surrounding their decisions to study in the UK can access many scholarships, bursaries, and grants made available at the government, private and institutional levels.
- Scholarships are available for undergraduate, postgraduate, and Ph.D. programs. These scholarships may cover tuition costs, living expenses, airfare, visa costs, course material, lodging, and other expenses.
- Deserving and meritorious International students can even study in the UK for free with scholarships.
8. Health Benefits
- International students are entitled to receive free medical treatment in the UK under the National Health Service (NHS).
- This NHS facility is accessible to a student by paying a yearly fee of £470 per year for a visa duration of over six months.
- Dependants – partners or children can also avail the benefit of free medical treatment under the NHS by incurring a cost of £470 per year.
9. Cross-cultural Experience
- Studying in the UK alongside students from over 120 countries brings with it the opportunity to experience culture, traditions, and cuisines, meet new people, build lasting connections, and develop a holistic mindset.
- Students can benefit from their interactions with a global workforce, develop new skills, and contribute to the rich culture of the UK.
The UK is an epitome of academic excellence, opportunity, and a melting pot of culture; and it is for this very reason that the UK has grown in popularity among enthusiastic international students to pursue their international degrees.