The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (which is usually shortened to just the UK or United Kingdom) is a political union made of up of four countries, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. England, Scotland and Wales share the island of Great Britain, which lies just off the northwest coast of continental Europe. The fourth country, Northern Ireland, is a portion of another island, which is split between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, an independent country, in the south.
The UK also has overseas territories such as Bermuda and Gibraltar.
The union of Great Britain and Northern Island is the latest that has occurred over the last 300 years. Originally Scotland and England were two entirely separate countries with their own monarchs and political systems, and Wales fell under the control of England and was known as a principality.
Over the years, various acts of union have taken place that have brought England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland together, and Ireland was later to gain independence in 1922 leaving the current split we see today.
The UK has become one of the top destinations to study around the world. With traditions of excellence dating back hundreds of years, high class institutions on every corner, and much more flexibility than many other countries, the United Kingdom has much to offer international students that other English-speaking countries cannot.
Why should you come to the UK as a destination to further your international education?
International students have always been an important presence in the UK, and their numbers have been growing steadily over the years. The UK is the second most popular destination for international students, behind the US. The UK has worked hard to capitalize on the growing demand for English-language instruction and the post-9/11 visa hurdles in the US. The top ten countries sending students to the UK are:
Degrees and qualifications from UK higher education institutions are known around the world as high quality and world class. This standard of excellence is set by some of the older universities with recognizable names, such as Oxford and Cambridge, but the tradition carries through to many of the universities and colleges throughout the UK. When looking for work in the future, this can be a great selling point in your favour.
Because your degree will generally take less time to complete in the UK than in other countries, you could save money compared to a US school. Although four-year programs are increasing in popularity, most degree programs in the UK are three years, and a master’s program is typically between one and two years.
Although international students can manage their affairs so that their UK education is affordable, UK policymakers are taking note of an alarming trend in the cost of education for non-EU students. With exchange rates climbing, life in the UK can become expensive. In addition, unlike in many other EU countries, non-EU students are charged higher rates in the UK than students from EU countries. As global competition for international students’ heats up, it can be predicted that the UK will act aggressively to keep the country a primary destination for international students.
An international student in the UK is typically allowed to work up to 20 hours a week during school term, and up to full-time when school is out of term. You should check with your international advisor at your school before starting any work – you do not want to be in violation of your visa, and rules change frequently. Keep in mind it is not always easy to find a job, so relying on work income to fund your entire education is not a good idea. Unless you have employment set up through your school before you arrive, you should plan to fund the entire first year of your studies without any employment income.
Financing an international education can be difficult. The best approach includes lots of preparation, careful analysis of your budget, and hard work in researching and applying for scholarships. There are many scholarships and loans available to students who want to study in the UK.
With the addition of the Channel Tunnel and low cost airlines, Europe is easier to access than ever. You can reach most areas of Europe from the UK within a few hours by train or direct flight. If you are studying in London or Manchester and you want a weekend away in Italy, you can fly direct to Rome, Milan, Pisa, Genoa, Venice or several other cities in Italy. The direct flight would take around two hours and costs will vary, depending on when you travel and when you book.
The UK is known for its multicultural society, with nearly all religions and faiths represented. With a racial, ethnic and religious jumble, the UK is very open to new traditions and cultures – a great thing for students from other countries.
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