How to Study Abroad from the UK

Updated on 17/01/2024 in
How to Study Abroad from the UK

Thousands of UK students choose to study abroad each year. However, they are only 1 % of the total number of students in the country. While studying abroad might seem like a pursuit for the adventurous, numbers would be much higher with proper information. Therefore, this article will break down the process and data of venturing overseas for education.

# Step 1: Choose the Degree

Not knowing what to do in life seems like the perfect way not to do it. Therefore, students should be conscientious in choosing their field of study. It should be something that fits their character and interests because “it pays well” and “seems easy” are recipes for disaster.

Choosing the degree subject will also limit the possible destinations. Some study programmes will be unavailable for some countries for various reasons. The important thing in such cases is to keep the eyes on the goal.

Full-time Student Vs Exchange Student

Students should decide what kind of studying they are interested in pursuing abroad - full-time or an exchange year. Both paths have their challenges, but the process itself is somewhat different.

Full-time students should first gain admission to a foreign university. They need to figure out the whole process by themselves: from applying for a visa to getting their diploma legalised once they get back. They could hire an independent agency to ease the entire journey.

On the other hand, exchange students have it much easier. They usually apply through their British university to another partnering university. There are fewer options, but most of the administrative part is already taken care of. Students can also receive funding from participating in programmes like the Turing Scheme - UK’s alternative to Erasmus after Brexit.

Once students figure out which path suits them best, they should ask the next most important question. Where?

# Step 2: Where Do Most UK Students Study Abroad?

According to a 2018 study, the United States was the top destination for UK students, with 10,279 out of 34,025 students. Moreover, France was the only country in the top 5 choices where English is not an official language. Therefore, familiarity seems like a strong motivator in choosing a study destination.

Countries like the United States, Australia, Ireland, and Canada can feel like a trip out of town to UK students. They might talk a bit funny there, and crocodiles could roam the countryside but aren't they just very distant cousins at the end of the day.

While it is natural to prefer a country with the same language, sometimes it is enough to study in English at the university. These adventurers usually end up learning the local language at a decent level, and they come home with more than a degree. 

Wherever they go, students would end up with an adequate amount of culture shock. After all, many foreign savages choose to drive on the right side of the road instead of adopting the civilised British way. And things can get even more complicated; for example, Bulgarians shake their heads for “yes” and nod for “no”.

However, there are a couple more questions that could help answer the “where”.

How Much Does It Cost to Study Abroad from the UK?

Studying abroad can be expensive, especially in other English-speaking countries. Tuition fees start at around £8300 in Ireland and go as high as £50,000 in American Ivy League schools. In contrast, countries in Eastern Europe can charge as low as £2500 per year, and living costs are much lower.

For many students, the financial costs could be the most critical factor in deciding where to study. Often, the questions are whether they can afford it and how long they would pay off their student debt after graduation. Thus, students should always carefully investigate tuition fees and living costs abroad.

How Many UK Students Study Abroad?

According to the 2018 study, 34,025 UK students studied abroad for the 2017/2018 academic year. This number is a little less than 1.5% of Britain's entire 2.34 million student population.

In perspective, 98% of UK students have similar academic experiences and backgrounds. They do not have any significant advantages over each other in the job market after graduation.

On the other hand, international students can pick up a lot of experience along with their studies. That’s why people should have foresight in choosing a country for education. 

For example, a future plastic surgeon might want to know that Turkey is a top destination for corrective surgery tourism. Teachers and doctors could be more competent in plastic surgery techniques there. Furthermore, after 6 years of studying in the country, students would probably have a decent knowledge of the language. 

# Step 3: Select The University and Apply for Admission

Selecting the right university can mean the difference between graduating on time and losing educational momentum. Students should consider their interests and characters. Do they prefer a large city or a small academic town? What are the available extracurricular activities, campus facilities, and leisure opportunities? Everything can make a difference.

Furthermore, each university usually has its own admission requirements. Some require good A-Level grades others are not that selective. Some require standardised exams like the SAT or the MCAT, others hold their own exams, and some don’t even have examinations. 

Many universities also require an interview and some form of motivational essay to determine whether the student is a good fit. That’s why it’s always good to submit several applications to different universities. Never leave all eggs in one basket.

# Step 4: Secure the Visa

Once a student has gained admission, they should start preparing for the journey. The first and most crucial step is to secure the visa

The university will usually give an official letter of admission and some guidelines to apply at their consulate. However, going through the whole process can be challenging for first-timers with no information. After all, the process for a student visa is usually more comprehensive than that for a tourist visa.

Foreign countries usually require:

  • Proof of admission
  • Proof of financial support
  • Travel passport
  • Criminal background check
  • Two passport photographs

There could be an interview as well during the application. 

The whole process will probably come as a wake-up call for aspiring students because they will experience the maturity of their decision for the first time. Few things are as sobering and exhilarating at the same time as preparing to venture outside one’s home country. 

# Step 5: Prepare for the Journey

Nobody can be absolutely prepared for this, but the more one tries to be, the easier it will be in the beginning. There are unavoidable tasks like getting all the mandatory vaccinations and health insurance.

However, everything else is a question of good information gathering. The university representatives are always a great source of advice. They could even provide the contact information of another UK student already enrolled there. The first-hand experiences of compatriots are always the best sources for what to expect. The internet is also a great source of information.

Most of all, students should plan what to pack for their first journey. They should also consider what to bring from home and buy at the location. Students shouldn’t fill their suitcases with clothes, for example, because fashion will probably be different at their destination. It’s always good to buy some clothes abroad to fit at the university easily. 

Another example is bedsheets and pillowcases. Neither dorms nor apartments usually have them. However, they are usually affordable to buy everywhere. Therefore, bringing them across the pond might be a bad idea.

Once the packing is done, all that remains is the flight. Оr the voyage for those who travel with style.

How to Study Abroad from the UK

Here is a summary of the whole process:

  1. Choose the degree and its focus.

  2. Choose the desired country.

  3. Select several universities and apply for admission.

  4. Secure the student visa.

  5. Prepare for the journey abroad.

  6. Enjoy the experience!

While these steps seem simple enough, many students can feel overwhelmed once they start the process. That’s why Medlink Students has created a comprehensive service that helps with every step of the way. 

If you are looking for a medical university in Europe, you could join the thousands of students who have achieved their dreams with our assistance. 

Call us for a free consultation!

Article written by Dr Sam El Mais
Dr Sam El Mais, MD, MSc, BSc, graduated from a renowned medical school in Romania in 2019. He uses his professional knowledge and personal experience to guide students on crucial aspects such as university selection, admissions processes, and cultural adjustments.
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