Everything You Need to Know About Studying in the UK
If you're interested in studying abroad in the UK, check out this breakdown of how you can make it possible!
Are you considering studying outside of Canada? Studying abroad in the United Kingdom may be the best choice you make for yourself and your education. But there's so much to consider, where do you even begin? Don't worry, here's a crash course on everything you need to know about studying in the UK — from your initial research to the application process. So, let's start off with why you should consider studying in the UK:
Top benefits of studying in the UK
On top of gaining independence and developing essential soft skills, like adaptability, there are many benefits to choosing to pursue your degree across the pond. Check out the advantages of studying overseas in the UK:
- The UK has some of the top schools in the world! Four out of the top 10 schools in QS' world university rankings for 2023 are UK schools
- It's incredibly easy to travel within the UK and Europe as well. The UK is near countries like France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, so you can explore more of the world while you study
- Settle in with little to no culture shock (except for driving on the other side of the road and terminology like chips=fries and trousers=pants)
- There's lots to do for students. You can get a tase for pub life, explore museums, festivals, castles, cliffsides, and more
- Degrees are typically shorter which means less money spent on tuition! An undergraduate degree typically lasts about three years
- Simple student visa process (you'll learn more about that below!)
- UK degrees are recognized internationally, thus opening up your career options
- You can work while studying (a maximum of 20 hours a week during your terms, and full-time during breaks and holidays)
- You can work in the UK after graduation. The Graduate visa will allow you to work in the UK for two years after completing your degree
So, the UK has won you over and you want to pursue your studies there. Here's where you can find out what you can expect from the application process.
How to apply to schools in the UK
Applying for schools in the UK is a lot like applying for schools in Canada. You have two options for submitting your applications:
- Apply to your desired school directly
- Apply through UCAS.com
The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS), connects the world to UK higher education. It's similar to provinces in Canada that have a province-wide application system, like OUAC or ApplyAlberta. You'll need to pay an application fee of £27 ($40.42 CAD) for a maximum of six university choices.
Make sure you know if your desired school is a licensed student sponsor, so it can legally accommodate international students. A licensed student sponsor is a school registered with the government and can enroll international students. This is an important factor that will pop up again when you apply for a student visa.
Some important deadlines that you should be aware of are:
- October — deadline for any course at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, or for most courses in medicine, veterinary medicine/science, and dentistry
- January — deadline for the majority of courses
If it's after June 30 and you've missed those deadlines, or don't have an offer from a university or college, you can submit your application and be entered into Clearing. What is Clearing? Basically, Clearing is a way to place students in open seats in programs after the deadline.
Personal statements and other documents
When applying to schools in the UK, you'll often need to submit your personal information, secondary education information, written references, and a personal statement.
Your personal statement is your time to shine and stand out from the crowd. This is when you'll be able to highlight your passions, interests, and experiences apart from your grades. But, this can be a daunting task. How are you supposed to convince an admissions team to choose you? Here are some great tips to help you get started:
- Preparation is important: before you begin writing, jot down key details and facts that you want the admissions team to know about you, so you don't leave anything out
- Show your personality: admissions teams don't want to read something bland. They want to get to know more about who you are as a person, so make sure to include your personality in your writing
- Open your statement with an attention grabber: admissions teams will read thousands of applications and you want to hook them from the beginning
- Avoid clichés: they're overdone and work against showing your personality
- Be clear and concise: get straight to the point. You don't have a lot of space to work with, so don't waste your time elaborating on unnecessary details
- Provide evidence: when discussing your skills and achievements, include evidence to back up your claims
- Be memorable: try to include something unique and noteworthy about yourself or something you've done. Give the admissions team a reason to read your application more than once
For more advice on writing your best personal statement, check out UCAS' How to Write Your Undergraduate Personal Statement article.
Getting your visa
Once you've been accepted to a school, you can then apply for a student visa! The earliest you can apply for your visa is six months before you course begins, but don't worry, you'll usually receive a decision within three weeks.
As for the visa application process, it's fairly simple. You'll need the following to be eligible:
- To pay a fee of £363 (approx. $542 CAD), as well as a healthcare surcharge
- To be able to pay for your course for one academic year (nine months)
- A Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies reference number
- You'll receive this from your school when you're accepted
- To be able to speak, read, write, and understand English
- Must be 16 years of age or older
- Must have consent from your parents or guardians if you're under 18 — you'll need a copy of your birth certificate (or similar government documents) showing their names, too
- Must have a current passport or other valid travel documentation
- If you've received sponsorship (pdf; see pg. 5) for your course fees and living costs in the last 12 months, you'll also need written consent for your application from your financial sponsor
- If you're doing graduate school, you may need to apply for the Academic Technology Approval Scheme certificate, depending on your course
Russell Group schools
In your quest for applying to schools in the UK, you've probably come across the term "Russell Group." But, what exactly is the Russell Group and what does it have to do with education?
The Russell Group is the equivalent to the top universities in Canada and the Ivy League in the US. There are 24 schools that are part of the Russell Group, and they all share a common focus on research and a positive reputation for academic achievement. According to THE's World University Rankings 2023, 10 Russell Group schools made it into the top 100, with three placing in the top 10!
If this sounds like what you're looking for in a school, be sure to explore the full list of Russell Group schools.
Scholarships and funding for schools in the UK
As a Canadian studying in the UK, you can expect your tuition fees to be higher, as you'll be an international student. One of the best ways to help make your education more affordable is through scholarships and other funding opportunities.
Did you know that many universities in the UK will accept financial aid through your provincial or federal government? For example, OSAP and StudentAidBC offer a search portal you can use to see if your interested school in the UK is registered for financial aid.
As for scholarships, here are the best places to search for awards and funding:
That's a lot of information to take in, but with a little help from SchoolFinder and ScholarshipsCanada, you'll be on your way to studying in the UK sooner than you think!
Find the right school for you in the UK