— Rittika Chanda Parruck
The UK has a long legacy of academic excellence. This year’s QS World University Rankings has top UK universities in its top 10 and 55 Universities in the top 500. It’s really not surprising that Indian students have increasingly chosen the UK as a top study destination. According to data published by the UK Home Office, Indian student visas issued, grew by over 90 per cent in 2021 compared to the previous year, and a whopping 164 per cent over 2019, taking the total to 98,747.
We asked students why they did not choose the UK as their preferred study destination and got a list of reasons that are simply not true and decided to do some myth-busting.
Studying in the UK is more expensive than the US
Based on the level of study, annual fee for UK courses can vary between £10,000 and £26,000 for international students. Then again, UK offers good value for money as average costs are lower than in the US. Take the UK masters which is completed in a year. You can get a high-quality degree with a rigorous curriculum by spending more time, in single year in the classroom with shorter holidays and no long vacations. Sounds hard, but it will save you one year’s worth of tuition fees, rent and living costs. Not only that, you can start earning a year earlier and save more while you gain work experience.
International students cannot apply for jobs
The UK provides post-study work opportunities to international students through the Graduate Route. In fact, anyone with a degree from a reputed UK university can stay in the UK to work for up to 2 years. Students with a PhD from the UK can stay for upto 3 years. There is also the option to work while you study, upto 40 years during holidays and 20 hours during course-time. If you are looking for an international work experience to kick-start your career, studying in UK is a no brainer.
Accommodation is extremely expensive
Students have a lot of choices between the different kinds of accommodations like university-owned catered or non-catered residence halls to private off-campus accommodations. Students can even choose a homestay setup through agencies, to gain a first-hand experience of the culture. Many institutions offer residences on campus or nearby and for those looking to rent their own place, there are several modern and safe options available around the campuses.
Students experience significant culture shock
One of the key reasons for studying abroad is to experience a new culture, but you don’t want to be thrown into the deep end suddenly. Universities in the UK take a lot of care to ensure new international students are supported through the settling-in process and organise clubs and activities to ensure they get new friends quickly. Remember 17 per cent of international students in UK universities are Indians and this has risen to 27 per cent in first year recently, so you won’t have any problem finding friends to celebrate Holi, Diwali, Gurupurab or Eid with.
Bad weather and food
As much as we have heard the complaints about the weather in the UK but is it really that bad? True you can expect cloudy skies most days of the year, but it will never be as severe as the extremes of heat and cold you might experience in large parts of US, Canada or Australia. A warm jacket and an umbrella is all you will need to beat the winter here unless you plan to hike up Ben Nevis or swim in the North Sea. The added bonus is that UK cities have fantastic air quality index and great open spaces you can enjoy the year round.
Worried about bland food! Remember the UK is a melting pot of cultures and food is at the heart of every culture. Students from around the world will find home food on the streets of UK. It is estimated that there are between 10,000 to 17,000 curry houses or Indian/South Asian restaurants in the UK so, if you are not that into cooking you still have a place to go when you miss home food.
Nothing could be further from the truth! A small health surcharge of £470 covers nearly every ailment. We do hope it is a service you will not need but knowing it’s there will give you and your parents a lot of peace of mind.
Misconceptions and doubts like these can have a life altering impact when opting for higher education abroad. It is best for students to gather the right information from credible sources before finalising their destination.
(The author is Director of Education at British Council, India)