A Comprehensive Guide to Studying in the UK

If you were to ask a group of 20 international students their top country for pursuing higher education abroad, at least 4 or 5 will definitely say the UK.

According to a report by Paul Bolton and Joe Lewis, the UK reported a total of 605,100 international students across all institutions in 2020-21.

The number seems insignificant if you compare it to the USA or Canada. But the UK government had estimated they’d overshoot 600,000 international students in another decade. So, it’s safe to say the demand for higher study in the UK is getting higher each day.

Why Do Students Choose the UK for Higher Education?

The UK has always been a strong contender for higher studies thanks to various factors, such as the following:

  • Home to some of the most renowned instituted worldwide
  • Better employability opportunities
  • Globally recognised degrees
  • Outstanding research opportunities
  • Diverse campus life

You’re bound to have an unforgettable experience when you go to study abroad in the UK. But that doesn’t mean the beginning of your journey will be smooth sailing. So, to make your life easier, this blog will cover everything you should know about the universities, eligibility criteria, and scholarship opportunities in the UK.

What are the Best Universities in the UK?

Seventeen universities in the UK rank within the top 100 according to the QS World University Rankings 2023. Among them, the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford appear in the top 5.

Other notable institutes include the following:

  • Imperial College London
  • King’s College London
  • UCL
  • The University of Bristol
  • The University of Manchester
  • The University of Glasgow
  • Durham University

The UK recorded a total of 164 higher education institutions in 2018-19. So, you’re certainly not short of options if you want to pursue higher education in the UK. However, is reputation the only thing to consider when shortlisting a university?

Absolutely not!

What Should You Consider When Shortlisting Universities?

It’s impossible to apply to every university in the UK. After all, every application is expensive. So, you’d need to shortlist at least 4-7 institutes where you have the best chances of success.

Now, students consider various factors depending on their situation. For example, if you’re on a tight budget, you would consider affordability over everything else.

In addition to affordability, you should also consider the following:

  • Location of the university
  • Acceptance rates
  • Surrounding locality
  • Accommodation options
  • Department reputation
  • Research opportunities
  • Post-graduation work opportunities

For example, if you want to study at a university with affordable tuition fees, you’d choose the University of Chester or Leeds Beckett University.

On the other hand, students who wish to guarantee a spot in any UK institution choose universities with high acceptance rates. For example, the University of Roehampton and Bishop Grosseteste University have over 90% acceptance rates.

What are the Eligibility Requirements to Study in the UK?

There are no fixed eligibility criteria for admission in the UK. The detail varies from one institute to the other. It also depends upon the degree of education you wish to pursue. However, no matter which university or degree you apply to, you must submit your English language proficiency test scores.

The most widely accepted proficiency tests include the following:

  • International English Language Testing System (IELTS)
  • Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL)
  • Pearson Test of English – Academic (PTE Academic)

Other than these, some universities also accept the Duolingo English Test (DET) and the Trinity Secure English Language Tests (SELTs).

If your native language isn’t English, you’ll need to apply for these tests to prove your English reading, speaking, writing, and listening efficiency.

Now, let’s explore the eligibility requirements for various courses.

Eligibility for vocational courses

Generally, you don’t need to provide educational details for vocational courses other than your English language proficiency test scores. However, the details might vary depending on the institute. So, ensure you check the eligibility details thoroughly.

Eligibility for UG & PG courses

The UK offers a wide range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses in its esteemed institutions. In addition to submitting a few common documents, you must have completed your 10+2 to apply for a UG course. Similarly, you must submit a UG course completion certificate to qualify for the PG courses.

The common documents include the following:

  • Statement of purpose
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Excellent English language proficiency scores
  • Financial records
  • Academic transcripts
  • Offer letter
  • Student visa

Eligibility for Ph.D. courses

The UK is known for its top-notch research opportunities and doctoral programs. The eligibility criteria for most include the following:

  • Completion of a bachelor’s and master’s degree
  • High English language proficiency tests scores

Other than that, you’d need to submit the list of documents mentioned in the earlier section. Plus, you need to add a research proposal and a detailed CV.

Since the minimum language proficiency points vary according to the institute and degree of education, you should check the eligibility criteria thoroughly before applying for any course.

How Can You Afford to Study in the UK?

Let’s face it – high tuition fees and living costs are the primary reasons most students cannot fulfil their dreams of studying abroad.

A 2005 article highlighted that getting an education in the UK is more expensive than in the USA. Well, that’s a no-brainer! The currency exchange plays a crucial role in making education in the UK less affordable.

Furthermore, given the several factors that play a role in determining a location’s affordability, there is no doubt that the UK is EXPENSIVE.

So, with a limited budget, you can pursue two options:

  • Apply for an education loan
  • Check if you’re eligible for scholarships

Since educational loans aren’t free, and you’ll have to pay that back eventually, don’t miss the opportunity to bag a full scholarship if possible.

Some of the popular scholarship options include the following:

  • Scotland Saltire Scholarships
  • GREAT Scholarship
  • Chevening Scholarship
  • Global Wales Postgraduate Scholarships for International Students
  • Commonwealth Masters Scholarships

Almost every university offers its own merit-based and need-based scholarships to international students. For example:

  • Clarendon Scholarships at the University of Oxford (UK)
  • UCL Global Masters Scholarships
  • University of Sussex Chancellor’s International Scholarships
  • Gates Cambridge Scholarships

Lastly, if you’ve got the GRE exam pattern down pat, you could also try to ace the exam. Students who secure above 60%-70% on the GREs are eligible for scholarships for undergraduate degrees.

To sum it up,

Applying to foreign universities can be intimidating. But there’s no need to doubt yourself. No one was born knowing how to write their visa application. Even the most experienced guidance expert had once asked, “What is SOP and LOR?” So don’t stress yourself out!

You can take your time to tackle this complex process on your own. Just have faith in yourself and conduct thorough research before shortlisting universities. Ensure that you check the eligibility conditions beforehand and opt for institutes that offer scholarships.

Author bio:

Jonathan Pierce is a professional academic consultant at AbroadVice.com. For 5+ years, he has guided hundreds of students who wish to study abroad in the UK for 5+ years. Pierce is a passionate teacher, and his sessions are very informatic.