Are you aspiring to pursue an undergrad program in the United Kingdom (UK) after 12th? Great! We are here to help you out. When that thought of studying abroad comes to your mind, the first step that you need to take is to find out the pros that are worth spending an extravagant amount in fees and living expenses.
What are the benefits of studying in the UK for international students?
The exposure that you get by studying in one of the world-class institutes helps you in standing out from the crowd.
The higher education degrees from UK colleges and universities are recognised worldwide.
Students get the opportunity to develop critical thinking, leadership skills, and connections to drive their careers forward.
UK courses are shorter than in other countries, which helps to reduce accommodation and tuition costs.
There are more than 395 universities and colleges rendering high-quality undergraduate courses across the UK.
What to study in the UK?
The UK has four countries – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. However, most of the renowned colleges are located in London followed by Oxford, Cambridge and Manchester.
Choosing a career path needs a serious brain-picking based on your interest, future goals and current trends. For example, a career in advanced technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Robotics or Cybersecurity. Creative fields, such as writing or arts. As per the current epidemic scenario, research in the healthcare field will be on a boom.
Here we have listed the subject choices that you can make in accordance with various streams at school, which can help you in deciding your future academic goal.
You can also search for courses and their deadlines on the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS) site. Some classes start between January and May, whereas the majority of the courses begin between September and October.
Types of undergraduate courses in the UK
Bachelor degrees are either for three or four years if studied for a full-time. Under this, either you can concentrate on one subject, dual or multiple subjects. Many courses allow you to choose modules that suit your interest. Some bachelor degrees offer a sandwich year through additional placement or a year in industry as a part of the course. Being an international student, you need to check whether you are eligible to work in the UK or your visa permits you for a placement course. In maximum cases, the international students on a Tier 4 visa are qualified to work based on some terms and conditions.
You can also enquire in colleges about foundation programmes, which are designed to develop skills and subject-specific knowledge for international and domestic students. Some foundation degree programmes are offered as stand-alone one-year courses, and some are integrated with degree courses. These programmes can help students who don’t receive A level grades or qualifications required for admission into a particular course.
If you are interested in getting work experience while achieving a degree, you can search for degree or graduate level apprenticeship. It is crucial to check the full details of the given job and the training with the employer.
If you are interested in studying performance-based arts, you can search for conservatoire courses.
This criterion is subjective and may differ from college to college. However, here are the typical requirements for Oxford and Cambridge University:
- CBSE student – A1 grades or above 90% in five or more relevant subjects (other universities may ask for 75% and above as well)
- ICSE board – 90% or more in five related subjects
Most of the universities receive applications from CBSE and ICSE board prominently for undergrad courses in Law, Computer Science, Economics, Engineering and Science. If you are interested in pursuing any other courses, check this condition from the admissions office.
- State Board – 95% in five or more relevant subjects.
- International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma Years Program (11th and 12th std) – Scores between 40-42 and 776 in higher-level subjects
- Cambridge International (IGCSE for 14-16-year-olds)- High grades in four or five relevant subjects (related to the chosen course)
- Cambridge Advanced (AS & A levels for 16-19-year-olds) – A* in four particular subjects
Please note that the colleges of UK also modify offers to applicants based on their circumstances. For example, if you are studying in 12th under a Cambridge or International Baccalaureate program and achieve high points or grades, it can add a considerable weightage to your application. However, universities and colleges also know that a lot of other factors can influence your grades and qualifications. Hence, to make the process fair, they also consider barriers, such as poor background, that affected your grade requirements.
The universities also make conditional offers to applicants, where they have an additional qualification along with the achievements in XII. For example, if a student has secured less than 2000 rank in IIT-JEE, he or she can get an offer for Chemical Engineering, Engineering or Natural Sciences.
The applicants also apply as affiliated having completed a first bachelor degree.
Some colleges also consider applications of students who are undertaking the first year of an undergraduate degree outside the UK.
Throughout the admission process, your language skills will be assessed along with academic capability. Hence, it is essential to have a stronghold on the English language to undertake a challenging academic course.
Here are some of the tests among which you can choose to demonstrate your English language skills:
IELTS Academic – A score of 7.5 or above is acceptable (minimum 7 in each section)
TOEFL – A minimum score of 110 is required
Cambridge English (C2 Proficiency) – A minimum score of 200 is required (185 in each element)
Where to study, when to apply, and the application fee for UK college admissions?
Once you decide about the subject, prepare a list of colleges and universities, which consists of related courses by searching on the internet or UCAS site. You can also attend an online open day, which renders you an opportunity to meet the tutors, explore the campus, see the facilities.
Then contact the admission offices via phone or email for inquiring about the following:
- Course and subjects availability
- Application process
- Tuition fees and other costs
- Which English proficiency test scores they accept
- Which visa they sponsor and will you be allowed to work on it
- Take advice pertaining to qualifications required, achieved or expected grades and the subject-specific admission tests conducted by some universities as a part of the application process.
When to apply for 2021 entry?
The entry to most universities and colleges open through the UCAS site where you need to apply. UCAS will start taking applications from September 2020 for Cambridge and Oxford university or medicine courses. The deadline will be in October. If your application gets approved, maximum interviews happen in the first three weeks of December. 15 January 2021 is the application deadline for the majority of the other courses.
The application fee is £20 for one course and £26 for multiple courses
Some colleges don’t receive an application through UCAS; thus, in that case, you need to apply directly on their website.
List of documents
When you search for courses, many of the entry requirements may not list out the qualifications that you have. In that case, you can enquire the college’s website or admission office for accepting alternative equivalent qualifications. You can also contact the UCAS Qualifications Hotline on +044 371 468 0472 (or 0371 468 0472 if you’re calling from inside the UK) or can send a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here is the list of documents that you need to keep handy before you proceed to apply:
- Recognised qualifications
- Passport number
- Transcripts of grades
- English proficiency test scores
- Personal statement for UK universities
- Reference letter from teachers or mentors on school letterhead
- Relevant work experience (optional)
- Curriculum Vitae (CV)
How to write a personal statement for UK universities
A personal statement is a part of the application process where the applicants need to specify what they hope to achieve from a course and why they are applying to that particular university. It is an applicant’s chance to demonstrate passion and understanding for the chosen subject irrespective of the exam results.
Here are the crucial points that you need to include in your statement:
- What are your career aspirations
- Why are you interested in that subject
- Mention any internship that you have taken around the course in which you aspire to seek admission
- What aspects of previous education did you like
- What attracted to a particular university
- Other academic interests that you can link with that subject
- A genuine experience of extracurricular activities around a subject
For an undergraduate program application, a statement of 400-600 words is enough.
How to apply for college admission in the UK
As we discussed before, check with a college’s admission office how they accept applications? Should it be sent directly or via UCAS?
Many students perform the application process independently, and many take the help of a registered agent (who levy fee) throughout the application and visa process.
If you need to apply via UCAS, here is the step by step process:
- Register on the UCAS website and fill the application form.
- Write the personal statement as we discussed before.
- Add the reference letter.
UCAS may not send your transcripts to the colleges, and you may have to post it directly. Hence, enquire from the college whether they need your mark sheet during the initial assessment of application or afterwards.
Please note, don’t wait for the application deadline as you may have to do some other formalities as required.
How to secure the UK Student Visa
Once you have been offered a place in the course, apply for a student visa from the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI). You need to apply up to three months in advance of your course start date. Usually, it takes around 15 days to get visa approval, but you need to create a buffer for other urgent requirements or unforeseen delays in the process.
Here are the things that you have to do before sending the visa application:
Accept an unconditional offer of a course.
If you have already attempted an English test, then you are good to go. Otherwise, you need to take a UKVI approved English test.
Apply for a Tier 4 student visa and add all the required documents along with the English test score certificate.
To cover tuition fee (paid to the college) and maintenance costs (credited to your account), you can apply for Student Finance entry. You can also refer to universities and government-funded scholarships, such as the Chevening Scholarship.
Points to remember
Once you find the course and university of your interest, prepare a finance estimate and discuss it with your parents. Along with self-funding, you may also have to apply for a loan and scholarship depending on the expenses.
Along with the UK, keep other options open as well. You may have to enrol for the first year bachelor degree program before moving to the UK depending on the application deadlines and test results.
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