9 Reasons for Indian Students to Study in the UK
Indian students planning to choose the United Kingdom (UK) as their study abroad destination might be worried about the impact of Brexit [short for "British Exit", the referendum that took place on 23 June, 2016 when British citizens voted to leave the European Union (EU).] Higher education experts both in the UK and the EU have advised students to not worry about any sudden changes at least for the next 2 years. In fact, there have been predictions that Brexit and the consequent drop in the value of the pound (£), may result in a reduction in the course fees in various UK universities.
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For every Indian student, the major consideration when looking at higher study options abroad is the host country. It will not only determine the value of the degree you earn but also play an important role in defining your career choices ahead. If you are looking to apply for an undergraduate, postgraduate or research programme in the United Kingdom (UK), let us start by evaluating the advantages of pursuing that course in UK viz-a-viz another country or India.
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Here are the main 9 reasons Indian students should consider (despite Brexit) for studying in the UK (England, Wales, Scotland & Northern Ireland):
1. Internationally recognised universities & qualifications
UK is a popular destination for higher studies for students from around the world and is home to three of the top 10 universities in the world, according to the 2015 - 2016 THE World University Rankings. A degree that you gain from an UK university will be recognised internationally by universities, employers and government bodies.The top 5 universities in the UK (as of 2015 - 2016) are:
- University of Oxford - Two of India's Prime Ministers, Indira Gandhi and Dr.Manmohan Singh have studied at Oxford
- University of Cambridge - Indian's first PM, Jawaharlal Nehru and famous economist & Nobel laureate, Amartya Sen are both alumni of Trinity College part of Cambridge university
- Imperial College, London - Known for its Science education, this university has produced many Nobel laureates including the inventor of Penicillin, Sir Alexander Fleming
- University College London (UCL) - The Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, studied law here
- London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) - Kaushik Basu, an Indian economist & Senior Vice-President and Chief Economist of the World Bank is an LSE graduate (Also read: List of best UK universities)
Results of the QS Graduate Employability Rankings 2016 also point towards a high employability quotient for graduates from top UK Universities like Cambridge (ranked 4th) and Oxford (ranked 6th.)
2. Quality education
The UK has retained its position as a popular destination among international students owing to its long standing tradition of providing quality education. The standard of teaching and research at UK universities and colleges is routinely assessed and graded by official organisations to ensure that set benchmarks are met. Although UK institutes undertake the responsibility of ensuring standard and quality of different programmes themselves, independent audits are carried out by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). Professional bodies may also guide the curriculum and perform reviews on individual departments in an institute. Colleges in Scotland may undergo reviews by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education.
In fact, London was rated as the 5th best student-friendly city in the world, by QS rankings 2016. (Top 10 Cities in the World to be a Student)
3. Opportunities offered by UK education system
Among the benefits of studying in UK is a wide choice in picking your field of study and institution. You can choose from 150,000 courses at universities and colleges across England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, and directly contact the institute to order prospectuses.
If you are looking to pursue a Master's course in UK, you may find the one-year duration for all Master's programmes to be a big advantage. Alternatively, you may opt for a Master's programme in combination with PhD, which will save you an additional year. Shorter duration of courses in UK helps reduce tuition and accommodation costs.
The UK education system promotes close interaction between students and lecturers and provides the freedom to combine different subjects into a single course of study. English language support is offered by many institutions to help international students develop the essential study and language skills required to complete their course successfully. Most universities have counsellors and advisors to provide information and support to international students who can help you get used to the education system or any aspect of your course.
4. Strong research infrastructure
As a research student evaluating the benefits of studying in UK, it will be interesting for you to note that the country puts across 6.4% of global journal articles, 11.6% of citations and 15.9% of the world’s most highly-cited articles, even though it constitutes just 0.9% of world's total population.
The latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) which checks the quality of research conducted by more than 154 leading universities and colleges in the UK, classified 30% of the research as 'world-leading' and 46% as 'internationally excellent'.
An impressive number of 95,184 research doctoral degrees were awarded in the country from 2008-09 to 2012-13. The fields of clinical sciences, health & medical sciences, social sciences, business and humanities command strong emphasis in UK research (International Comparative Performance of the UK Research Base, a report prepared for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills).
5. Work while you study
Many Indian students in the UK gain work experience along with their study. A part-time job, internship or placement during vacation and volunteering are some ways to develop valuable skills that you can add to your CV. A work placement is a part of the study course for some colleges, and your university or college may assist in providing placement. (Also read: All you need to know about Working while Studying in the UK)
6. Work permit after study
There have been some changes on the post-study work visa since November 2015. You can now stay in the UK after completing graduation if you hold a job offer with an annual salary of at least 20,800 pounds (Rs. 18.3 lakh). There is no limit on the number of international students who can stay in the UK upon completion of their course. In order to work in the UK after completing your studies, you need to switch from a Tier 4 Visa to a Tier 2 General Visa. You will be required to apply for a work visa from the UK Border Agency, and you can opt from the following, depending on your employment status post study:
Tier 2 (General) Visa - Open to recent graduates holding a UK recognized Bachelor's, Master's or PhD degree with a job offer from a licensed employer paying a salary of at least £20,800.
Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa - Open to students who are in process of developing a world-class innovative idea and are sponsored by their university.
7. Scholarship and financial support
Indian students who're worried about expensive tuition fee need not lose sleep either, for there are many scholarships that you can apply to, especially at postgraduate and research level, to support your study and cost of living costs. (Also read: List of scholarships for Indian students in UK)
For scholarships offered by UK universities, you will need to gain acceptance to the course of study before you become eligible to apply.
8. Health benefits
Indian students in the UK are eligible to receive free medical treatment by the National Health Service (NHS) if enrolled in a full-time course. Your spouse/partner and/or dependent children will also be exempt from payment if they reside with you during the course of your study programme. Your college or university may have a special health policy for students too.
9. Cross-cultural experience
There were 4,36,585 international students from 180+ countries studying in the UK last year, out of which Indian students were the 2nd largest group (18,320)! Studying in UK is an opportunity to experience a multicultural environment, meet new people and fellow international students from across the world and discover new places. You benefit by developing a range of skills that are necessary to be part of today's global workforce.
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"Study in the UK," Prospects, http://www.prospects.ac.uk/study_in_the_uk.htm
"Best universities in the UK 2016", Times Higher Education, https://www.timeshighereducation.com/student/best-universities-in-the-united-kingdom
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"Salary thresholds for experienced Tier 2 migrants will rise to £30,000 by April 2017", http://www.cipd.co.uk/pm/peoplemanagement/b/weblog/archive/2016/04/19/salary-thresholds-for-experienced-tier-2-migrants-will-rise-to-163-30-000-by-april-2017.aspx