Are you considering studying abroad in the UK but unsure of what to expect? Here’s a quick guide to life as a student in the UK.
The UK is famed for its education system and is home to some of the best universities in the world. Nine UK universities featured in the QS World University Rankings Top 50 for 2020, with four in the top ten.
You will have heard of them – the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, UCL and Imperial College London. Other famous universities include the University of Manchester and The University of Edinburgh.
These world-famous universities provide a high level of student satisfaction too. The 2019 National Student Survey reported that 84% of 330,000 students studying at 400 UK universities were satisfied with their courses and happy with the teaching and academic support offered.
Brits are famed for enjoying a good party, so if that’s your thing then you’ll be in good company. The big cities (and smaller ones too) enjoy a vibrant nightlife with a multitude of bars and clubs.
If you’re into something quieter, then fear not. There are also many other ways to spend the time. Every city has its own shopping centre and high street with lots of shops, cafes and restaurants.
Football is a big thing too so there are football stadiums to visit. If you’re ever in Manchester make sure you check out the stadiums of its two big rival teams, Manchester United and Manchester City.
Uni societies and clubs, international societies
One of the best things you can do while at university in the UK is explore what clubs and societies exist at your university.
Student-led university societies are a big part of student life and a great way to meet like-minded people.
If you like a certain sport, you can join a sports team or club. If you like theatre there will be a drama society. The list goes on. One that could be very important as an international student is the Erasmus society or the international groups that most universities organise.
The UK is a melting pot of different cultures. No matter where you come from, you will be able to make a home here. Modern Britain is an incredibly diverse place, so you will be surrounded by cultures, languages and friends from all over the world.
Universities UK International conducted a study in 2017-8 that found that almost 500,000 international students accounted for 19.6% of the total UK student population.
The English language is very useful to know and is the international language for business. What better way to learn the lingo than by living in the UK and immersing yourself in British culture? Not to mention that speaking a foreign language looks great on your resume!
Ok, so the weather in the UK isn’t the best thing about it and can be a bit of a shock for new arrivals. Depending on which part of the British Isles you live in, you are bound to experience unpredictable weather at the best of times.
The upside is that the weather is almost never dangerous (no tornadoes here!), it’s mostly just rainy. The springs and summers tend to be sunny and pleasant, and the lush green countryside produced by the rain more than compensates for it.
When you’re studying abroad it’s easy to get excited about the fun things and forget about the less exciting, yet important, things until you need them. Registering with the local doctor’s surgery, for example, will make your life so much easier should you ever get sick while in the UK.
Finding out about support services at your students union could also be a lifesaver should you encounter any problems with your course or general day to day life while studying. Get to know who your student representative is – they are there for you.
Make sure you get a bank account set up – there are easy digital banks, such as Monzo, that are easy to set up. We’d also recommend getting a UK SIM card for your phone.
And, of course, finding comfortable, safe accommodation is crucially important to your quality of life while studying abroad.
If you study in a city, there are normally lots of public transport links. Buses, trains and taxis are to be found in every city, while others have additional metro, bike hire, and underground services. Who hasn’t heard of the London Underground?!
For more rural areas, public transport does exist but you have to make sure you check the timetables as they usually run to a less frequent schedule.
Speaking of transport, one of the most rewarding things to do when you’re in the UK is travel! A big part of the study abroad experience is exploring your host country, and the UK is rich in history and beauty spots.
Make sure you take some day trips and take advantage of the fact that it’s a fairly small place so easy to travel across in a short space of time. Don’t forget to visit Northern Ireland too, just a hop across the Irish Sea!
There are also lots of airports that offer quick flights to other destinations in Europe, and you can even catch the ferry to the surrounding isles…or even France!
Life after uni – jobs opportunities and internships
Once you have graduated from a UK course, depending on your student visa, you may be able to stay on in a graduate programme.
A 2019 survey by iGraduate on the International Graduate Outcomes revealed that 83% of the 16,199 international students surveyed said their UK degree helped them to get a job. 82% said that studying in the UK was a worthwhile investment.
Most students went on to discover that they were earning above the average in their home countries compared to their peers who studied in other places.
To get the most out of your time abroad studying, it’s important to feel at home. Here at Novel we offer accommodation that’s not only safe and comfortable but also enriches your entire student experience.