From bustling cities to alluring countryside and rich history to modern significance, the United Kingdom has it all. The four countries that make up the UK – Scotland, England, Northern Ireland, and Wales – have a combined culture and history as well as their own. Choose to study abroad in the UK for a semester or year consisting of academic opportunity, cultural immersion, and experiences of a lifetime.

Photo credit: Holly Norval.

1) Academic Life: The United Kingdom has a very structured academic system with incoming freshman already being placed on a subject track, and education being focused on individual motivation requiring dedication to outside research. Grades are largely based on single pieces of work rather than a compilation of work over the course.

2) Language: Courses are taught in English, however the accents may throw you at first! Don’t worry –most people are very understanding.

3) Housing: Most students choose to live in student housing in the form of flats or dorms. Both catered and non-catered options are available, with most return students supporting the non-catered choice. Keep in mind that international students are frequently housed with freshmen. If you would like a more mature environment, look into halls that don’t usually house incoming students.

Here is some information on the top study abroad cities, by country, in the UK.

  • Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, fluidly combines the past and the present as ancient architecture and Scottish tradition still brilliantly survive among the modern, fast-paced movement of the city. Whether you want city, sea, or countryside, Edinburgh has it all. The University of Edinburgh is a large, competitive, public university that is a popular choice for study abroad students.
  • Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland with a rich industrial history and wide range of cultural activities involving sports, museums, and music. The University of Glasgow is the 4th oldest university in the English-speaking world and houses schools of Law, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, and Dentistry.
  • St. Andrews is a small coastal town which is largely student centric (1/3 of the population is students). St. Andrews is rich in Scottish history and is the “home of golf”. The University of St. Andrews is a small university and the oldest in Scotland.
  • Manchester is a large city with an industrial past, noticeable in its architecture, and a current reputation for being a central place for sports (home of Manchester United), music (Oasis originated in Manchester), and scientific output. The University of Manchester is a large public university and is a popular destination for students from around the world.
  • London is the capital of England and home to Parliament and numerous tourist attractions. Popular universities include Queen Mary (strength in Politics, English, and History), King’s College, and Imperial College (known for the sciences).
  • Bristol is a classic English city by the sea. The University of Bristol is a desirable, large university with a low acceptance rate. Top subjects include engineering and drama.
Northern Ireland
  • Belfast is the capital of N. Ireland, and is situated within the unique cross culture of England and Ireland. The University of Ulster is the largest university in Ireland, spread across four campuses, and a popular choice for students. Queen’s University Belfast is a large, well-known research university.
  • Cardiff is the capital of and largest city in Wales. Cardiff is a prime destination for the politics, sports, and culture of Wales. Cardiff University is a large university which focuses on a research-based education.
  • Swansea is a coastal city that is a good source for the Welsh language and Welsh food. Swansea University is the third largest university in Wales and has a rivalry with Cardiff University which results in an annual varsity match.

While studying abroad in the UK, take advantage of the vast history, cultural landmarks, and classic British pastimes. Activities include: viewing a rugby or football game, exploring Edinburgh’s and Cardiff’s castles, drinking beer in a pub, riding the London Eye, visiting Titanic Belfast, or enjoying high tea.

Luckily, the UK offers a rail card which reduced your train fare by 1/3. It costs £28 and pays for itself in 3 trips. The UK is very easy to travel via train and studying within one UK city gives access to all of the UK in a short, comfortable journey.

One semester: For student living in the EEA or Switzerland, a visa is not necessary. For those outside these countries, you will not need to apply for a visa, but you will need to show appropriate documentation of studying at a UK university upon UK arrival. This student visa is valid for six months and does not allow you to work. Further information may be found through the UK Border Agency.

Year: Again, EEA members and the Swiss do not need to apply for this. If you plan to study for a full academic year, you will need to apply for a Tier-4 Visa. This will cost £289 and needs to be obtained before UK arrival. Further information may be found through the UK Border Agency, as well.

Living in the UK can end up being pretty expensive, so here are some scholarships for you to explore!

An amazing opportunity awaits those who choose to study in the UK -a country rich with advancement in a vast array of academic fields and a spirit and culture to draw you into a lifestyle that will result in new friends, new experiences, and a new way of viewing the world.

Contributed by K. Leigh Furzer


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