Grad School Abroad in England
So you are thinking of doing grad school in England? That is a fantastic idea. Join many thousands (not just from the US) from around the world thinking the same and actually going ahead with it.
Below you will fnd some general info as well as some pertinant info on England, your applicaton process, how to get a visa and importantly budgeting and scholarships.
How do you get started? The best way forward is to SEARCH and find a few universities that match your needs. Send an info request out to them. Sit back and wait for the info to roll in....
While you are waiting...read on....
England is situated in the north west of Europe and is part of the island better known as Great Britain. England is the largest country in the UK and a majority of people (around 85%) of the UK lives in England, mainly in the major cities of London, Manchester, Liverpool etc and other metropolitan areas.
The 60 million or so people come from various parts of the world, partly due to the country’s colonial heritage. The ethnic groups that are the Anglo-Saxons, Scots, Welsh, and Irish make up the majority of the population but migrants from the sub-continent (India, Pakistan), as well as many from the Caribbean have made England home and as a result has made this country one of the most diverse in the world. So what you experience is a real melting pot of cultures, which would no doubt be a rewarding living experience. Explore some the key information via the tabs below.
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Get your VISA
Congratulations: you’ve got an offer of a place to study in the UK!
Your chosen a UK and researching British customs and now you know the importance of brewing the perfect cup of tea and making polite comments about the weather. Surely there’s nothing else you need to do to prepare for your time studying in the UK?
Well, not quite. Before you pack your bags, you must check whether you need a visa to come to study in the UK and make sure you get the relevant permissions from the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).
Not all non-UK-national students need Visas, and there are different types of student visa depending your circumstances. At the time of writing, if you are a US citizen (given the UKVI deem the USA to be a low risk country) the Visa process is quite straight forward. You can apply on-line and do not have to submit many of the documentary proof laid out below. HOWEVER, the UKVI can at any time request this information and you need to be able to furnish this info upon request. So it is important that you have this background. Please read on….
The criteria change all the time (that is the bad news), so it’s important to check the UKVI website (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-visas-and-immigration) for the latest information about applying for a student visa. In the meantime, here’s an overview of some of the key points. Remember the institution you are planning on attending will be able to help with a lot of this.
As per above, keep in mind the Visa process for those from ‘low risk’ countries such as the US is pretty straight forward. But its best to know this info beforehand.
Courses that last six months or less have their own category of student visitor visa. You can apply for an extended student visitor visa if you plan to study on an English language course that lasts up to 11 months. Please note, those on student visitor or extended student visitor visas are not allowed to work in the UK.
Tier 4 (General) student visa
This is the visa that you would need if you are travelling to the UK for grad school. This is for adult students who want to come to or remain in the UK 1 for their post-16 education for courses l longer than six months (except people E taking English language courses that; last up to 11 months, who can apply for an extended student Visitor Visa). To qualify, your course must be full-time (unless you are taking a recognised Foundation Programme as a postgraduate dentist or doctor) and lead to an approved qualification.
To complete your application, you will need a valid Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (called a CAS in short) from your chosen institution of study. The CAS is a unique reference number that proves you have an offer to study from a school, college or university on the UKVI’s register of sponsors.
All schools, colleges and universities that offer courses to people studying on Tier 4 visas must be on the UKVI’s register of Tier 4 sponsors, except those classed as legacy sponsors.
You can find the list by searching for ‘Register of Tier 4 sponsors’ on the UKVI website. Make sure you are studying at a place of study is on this list. This cannot be stressed enough.
There’s also the question of showing that you have the money to pay for your education while you are in the UK. You will need to provide evidence that you have enough money to pay for the fees for the first year of your course (or the whole course if it lasts less than a year) and living expenses for the first nine months (or the whole course if it lasts less than nine months). You do not have to provide this proof at application stage IF you are a US citizen, but you need to show proof upon request.
The UKVI sets the amount of money it expects you to have to be able to support yourself in the UK. These limits vary depending on where you are in the UK. Please see the UKVI website for details about financial requirements.
If you are a US citizen, you will not need to provide any of the documentation below. But you will need to provide this upon request.
These come in the form of documents to prove your identity and the claims you make in your application. These may include evidence of your qualifications, such as certificates or transcripts of results, and your passport or travel documents. In most cases you will also need to supply bank statements or other documents such as a passbook, a letter from your bank or building society, or a letter from a financial institution society, or a letter from a financial institution regulated by the home regulator confirming funds or a loan.
All of the supporting documents you send must be originals and accompanied by a fully certified translation if they are not written in English or Welsh. Check the UKVI website for full details.
Can I work?
Working while you study Like many students you may be hoping to take a part-time job while you are in the UK. This is fine, as long as you make sure that your visa allows it. Generally, if you are a student sponsored by a university or a publicly funded further education college, you may be allowed part-time during term time and full-time during the holidays. Please check with the UKVI whether you are eligible and to see how many hours you are allowed to work.
Can I work after I complete my studies?
You may also be hoping to stay on to work in the UK after your studies. If you succeed in getting a recognised degree from a UK university, you can apply to do this through the Tier 2 visa route. For this, you will need to have a firm offer of a graduate-level job with a salary above a certain amount to qualify.
At the time of writing the UKVI is trialling a pilot where students will be allowed to stay back for work for a short period. The pilot is only for a select group of institutions. Please check the UKVI website for details.
Top students with a flair for enterprise may be able to stay in the UK for up to two years under the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) route. This is open to 1,000 graduates a year who have developed world-class innovative ideas or entrepreneurial skills.
Can I bring my family?
Graduate students studying at publicly funded universities on courses that last for at least one year or government sponsored students on courses lasting more than six months can bring dependant family members with them to the UK.
What happens when I arrive?
As long as you only travel to the UK within the dates of your visa, you should be able to pass through immigration easily. Make sure you carry your supporting documents with you in case officials ask to see them.
Putting your visa application together can be time-consuming, but it is well worth the effort. if you have any questions about your application, check the UKVI website. You can also get help from the institution that you intending to attend.
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There are so many exciting events for you to enjoy across the UK. Below you will find listed some of the country’s must-see annual spectacles from the sublime to the simply odd.
1.London Fashion Week February
The trend-setters of the global fashion industry flock to the UK capital in February every year to see the latest creations from the world’s top designers. Organised by the British Fashion Council, the extravaganza sees leading fashion houses such as McQ Alexander McQueen, Burberry and Calvin Klein revealing their collections to star-studded audiences at Somerset House on the Strand. The five-day event features more than 50 official catwalk shows and an exhibition showcasing work from at least 100 accessory and ready to-wear designers, which means there’s plenty for even the most demanding fashionistas to feast their eyes on. www. londonfashionweek. co.uk.
2. The 'Boat Race' - March/April
Around a quarter of a million people line the banks of the River Thames to watch the rowing crews from Cambridge and Oxford (Britain’s two most acclaimed universities) battle it out. Starting in Putney and finishing at Chiswick Bridge, this four-mile battle of the blues light blue for Cambridge, dark blue for Oxford has been running since 1829, making it one of the longest-running events in London’s history. The two best riverside parkland viewing points are Bishop’s Park in Fulham and Furnivall Gardens in Hammersmith, where you’ll find beer tents, food stands and giant screens to capture the action. www. theboatrace.org.
3. FA Cup Final - May
This is the big one for football fans. Played at Wembley stadium ii front of nearly 90,000 roaring fans, the FA Cup Final marks the TWO step out on to the pitch in May. Tickets are like gold dust, because most are reserved for season ticket holders, sponsors and Club Wembley members. Fortunately, the match is broadcasted live on television so you can watch the beautiful game on your sofa or over a pint in one of the country’s many sports bars and pubs. www. thefa.com/thefacup.
4. Glastonbury Festival - June
A suitably awe-inspiring collection of bands, DJs, comedians and performance artists converge in Somerset for the five-day Glastonbury festival (affectionately known as Glasto). Launched by Somerset farmer Michael Eavis in 1970, the festival now attracts more than 150,000 party-goers and big-name acts such as U2, Coldplay and Beyoncé. Tickets go on sale in October and typically sell out within hours. lf you do get your hands on one, remember to pack your wellington boots. Heavy rainfall can turn the 900-acre site at Worthy Farm into a giant mud bath. www. glastonburyfestivals. co.uk
5. Cheese rolling at Cooper’s Hill - June
This is one of the country’s quirkiest and cheesiest events. Held in Gloucestershire on the Spring Bank Holiday, hordes of fearless contestants chase an 8lb Double Gloucester cheese down the death-defying steep Cooper’s Hill. The cheese can never actually be caught; with a brief head start it soon reaches breakneck speeds and few contenders manage to even stay on their feet, instead tumbling head-overheels down the hill in a desperate effort to catch the coveted dairy prize. The race winner is the first person to cross the line at the bottom of the hill. This bizarre sporting event is at least 200 years old and attracts thousands of visitors from around the world. www. cheese-rolling.co.uk
6. Wimbledon - June/July
Twenty-eight tonnes of strawberries are served and 200,000 glasses of Pimm’s are drunk during the tournament. It can only be Wimbledon.
Marking the true start of the British summer, this world-famous tennis tournament, where great players such as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have gone head to head, is the only grand slam event still played on grass. Whether you’ve got Centre Court tickets, or watching for free on a giant screen on Henman Hill (now occasionally called Murray Mound), you have a ball. www. wimbledon.com fawn
7. Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre - May-September
In a secluded corner of Regent’s Park in London, the Open Air Theatre combines serious drama, summery Shakespeare comedies and a big end-of-season musical. There’s a grassy picnic area with tables and chairs if you fancy bringing your own food or a bar and restaurant that serves barbecues and buffets before evening performances. The amphitheatre-style venue seats 1,240, and tickets can usually be purchased on the day. Performances are at the mercy of the never-dependable British weather, so bring a blanket and an umbrella. www. openairtheatreorq
8. The Proms July-September
Held across four London venues (Royal Albert Hall, Cadogan Hall, Royal College of Music and Kensington Gardens), this is an eight-week gala of orchestral music. You can either book a seat or just turn up on the day, queue, and pay £5 for one of the 1,400 standing tickets in the gallery or the arena. Tickets are almost as hard to come by as ' Centre Court passes for the Wimbledon finals but, like the tennis, the whole thing is broadcast live on the BBC. Plus there’s the popular Proms in the Park party, held in London’s Hyde Park. www.bbc.co.uk/proms
9. Notting Hill Carnival - August
The Notting Hill Carnival is the world’s second largest street festival (behind Rio’s carnival), mixing Caribbean flamboyance and London street chic. More than a million people flock to west London on the last weekend of August for a vivid spectacle of ornate floats, steel bands, colourful costumes and Caribbean food stalls serving up jerk chicken, fried plantain and rum punch. The more family friendly Sunday is the best day to bring children to the Carnival. Monday is the main parade, winding a path from Great
Western Road, along Chepstow Road and Westbourne Grove, to Lad broke Grove. www.thenottinghillca rnival.com
10. Eisteddfod - August
The National Eisteddfod is a big Welsh language cultural festival that takes place in the last week of August, alternating between north and south Wales. Each year, thousands of young people take part in a mixture of daily talent competitions -varying from dance to recitation, singing to brass bands. Around the mass (main field) there are arts and crafts exhibitions, gigs, a literature pavilion, an area for Welsh learners to hone their language skills, plus trade stands food stalls and bars. The festival celebrates ancient Welsh history: expect to see bards in flowing white costumes, dancing maidens and trumpet fanfares. The 2013 Eisteddfod will be held in Denbighshire. www. eisteddfod.org.uk
11. Edinburgh Festival - August
During the month of August, thousands of people head to Edinburgh for a huge, month-long arts extravaganza. Now in its 66th year, the cultural jamboree that takes over Scotland’s capital is generally referred to as ‘the festival’, but it comprises separately administrated elements: film, books, jazz, politics and art all have their own slot.
The ‘fringe’ is the biggest: an explosion of comedians, actors and street performers entertain in working pubs, restaurants, playgrounds, the back of campervans and even theatres across the city 40,000 performances and more than 2,500 shows are packed into 250 venues. www. edinburghfestivals.co.uk
12. Bestival - September
It may only have been going since 2004 but Bestival -taking place in the still warm days of early September -is now seen as the unofficial finale of the UK’s music festival season. Around 60,000 revellers make use of the regular ferry services from Portsmouth and Southampton to travel to the Isle of Wight for four glorious days of live music and premier league DJs. Bestival fans claim that it’s the ‘new Glastonbury’ but, with its Bollywood cocktail bar, Wishing Tree stage, fancy dress en masse and even a roller disco, this event has a charm all of its own. Previous headliners include Stevie Wonder, The Prodigy, The Cure, New Order and Bijrk. www.bestiva|.net
13. Bupa Great North Run September Every September
50,000 people descend on Newcastle to take part in the biggest half-marathon in the world. Devised by former Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist and BBC Sport commentator Brendan Foster, the route starts in the city centre and finishes in the picturesque coastal town of South Shields, with live bands spurring you along at nearly every mile and 13 charity cheering points. Runners can expect to be offered orange slices, jelly babies, ice pops and even a quick shower from spectators with hosepipes. Several other Great Runs take place during the year in cities all over the UK. www.greatrun.org
14. Bonfire night - November
Remember, remember the fifth of November. Gunpowder, treason and plot.’ Bonfire if night marks the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605. Effigies of Guy Fawkes, who was caught planting explosives under the House of Lords, are burned atop bonfires and there are firework displays up and down the country. The annual Battel Bonfire Boyes display in East Sussex involves a torchlit parade of more than 30 local bonfire societies dressed up in their various costumes (think Saxons, matadors, clowns, ancient Egyptians and Aztecs). www.bonfirenight.net
15. Pantomime season December-January
British pantomime takes familiar fairy tales and children’s stories Cinderella, Aladdin, Dick Whittington, Peter Pan and injects music, contemporary references and slapstick comedy to create noisy entertainment for all the family. The curtain goes up on the panto season in early December: cue the boos, hisses and bad jokes in theatres across the country. Look out for the pantomime horse, the minor celebrity and the villain he’s behind you! www. bigpantoguide.co.uk
16. Hogmanay (New Year) December
Scots have always treated New Year as a huge celebration.
A range of weird and wonderful customs are practised, but Edinburgh’s three-day party is perhaps the most famous. Proceedings kick off on 30 December with a torch lit procession along the Royal Mile and on to Calton Hill, where a replica Viking longship is set alight. On New Year’s Eve Hogmanay truly explodes into life, with Gaelic dancing, headline UJS and we music. Merry-makers count down the last few seconds to midnight before linking arms to sing Auld Lang Syne and watch 5.5 tonnes of fireworks explode over Edinburgh Castle. On New Year’s Day, you can check out Hogmanay, which sees dog sleds racing across Holyrood Park, or join hundreds at Loony Dook, plunging into the icy waters of the River Forth in fancy dress. Hogmanay events are ticketed, so book in advance. www. ledinburghshogmanay.org
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Budgeting during your stay in the UK
With money tight, financing your graduate studies can seem challenging. But there are plenty of opportunities and initiatives out there to help you get maximum value out of your time in the UK.
Doing grad school in the UK will no doubt be a life changing experience. But to truly make it memorable, you need to make sure you have the money to pay for it and be able to prove this to the UK Visa and Immigration (UKVI) to qualify for a visa. Luckily, there are plenty of things you can do to make sure your finances add up throughout your time as a student.
How much will it cost?
The first step to creating a practical budget is working out exactly what you will need to spend. This will depend on a number of factors. including whether you are paying ‘home’ or international fees, the length of your course and where you are studying. If you are eligible for FAFSA or some sort of Title IV funding, that is great. Make sure you do your FAFSA eligibility (the institution that you are attending must be on the FAFSA register) before you accept a place.
The good news is that, as many UK graduate programmes are at least a year shorter than comparable courses in countries such as the US and Australia, choosing to study at a British university can often work out cheaper.
The tuition fees you pay depend on your nationality. If you are a national of the European Economic Area (EEA) or Switzerland, you pay the same fees as UK students. If you are a citizen of most other countries, you pay international fees.
UKCISA has a useful series of information sheets at www.ukcisa org.uk/ student/index.php
Fees also vary depending on the course you study and the university you attend. Programmes in great demand such as MBAs or science courses charge the highest fees, while MA courses are generally cheaper.
You might also need to buy equipment, textbooks or research materials or rent studio space if you are doing a creative arts course. Check with your university before you start so you know what to expect.
Course fees are one thing, but you also need to make sure you can afford daily living costs. As well as paying for your accommodation, food and utility bills, you should budget for a television licence and travel.
It would also be a shame to come all this way and not take advantage of the many cultural highlights the UK has to offer, so don’t forget to allow money for entertainment too.
These costs vary depending on where you are in the UK, but you can use the international student calculator (international.studentcalculatomrg.uk) to get a rough idea of your likely expenses. In addition, if you need to apply for a Tier 4 (General) student visa, you will have to show that you have the money to pay for your tuition fees for at least a year and cover your living costs. At the time of writing, the money required for living costs was at least £810 a month (or £1,100 a month if you plan to study in central London). Check the UKVI website (https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/student-visas) for the latest rules.
Arranging your finances Once you’ve worked out how much your studies are likely to cost, you can start to plan how to finance them. The solutions to this are almost as varied as the students taking the courses: while some people opt to supplement their incomes with a part-time job or by working during the holidays, others find funding through scholarships or various grant-making schemes. There are also plenty of cost-cutting ideas and student discounts that you can take advantage of to make sure you get maximum value out of your time in the UK.
Working while you study
Doing paid work can be a great way to meet other students, improve your English and top up your finances. From working in the students’ union bar to helping out in local shops and restaurants or in the university IT service, there are lots of opportunities for students keen to add to their incomes.
Always make sure you know your rights before you take a job. If you are in the UK on a visa, you must check with the UKVI to see whether it allows you to work. Graduate students on a Tier 4 (General) student visa may be allowed to work up to 20 hours a week during term time and full-time during the holidays.
You should also make sure that you are paid a fair wage for any work your take. The UK’s minimum wage for workers between the ages of 18 and 20 and around £7 an hour for those aged 21 or over. It is illegal for an employer to try to pay someone less than the minimum wage and you should never agree to work for less. The careers advice centre or students’ union at your university will be able to help you find a job to suit your requirements. They will also give you help with essentials such as writing CVs and job applications, and preparing for job interviews.
Scholarships and funding
UK universities are keen to attract the best students to help them keep up their reputations for world-leading academic achievement. This means they make a lot of funding available to help talented applicants overcome any financial barriers they might face to studying in the UK.
Some graduate taught courses and research places come with funding attached, and are known as studentships. You can find details of these on a number of websites, including www.postgraduate studentships.co.uk and www. scholarship-programs.org, or from individual universities.
For other graduate places, you may be able to get help from grants and scholarships. These range from awards offered by individual universities to prestigious annual programmes such as the British Chevening Scholarships scheme (www.chevening.com), which offers funding to cover all or part of the cost of a one-year graduate course for students from more the: 120 countries.
Some scholarships exist to support students researching particular subject areas. The Royal Society Fellowships, for example, are open to postdoctoral applicants planning to do scientific research. You can find details of the scheme and a list of participating institutions on the Royal Society’s website (royalsociety.org/grants).
There are also scholarships that are open to students from certain countries or who have particular financial difficulties (see our scholarships page for more details).
As well as this, many charities and trusts provide graduates with funding. You can find out more information about these charities and trusts at libraries, online, by ringing the Educational Grants Advisory Service’s student advice line +44 (0)20 7241 7459, or by sending an email to egas.enquiry@ family-action.org.uk
You can also ask your Ministry of Education or local British Council office about funding options. They will have information about UK and country-specific award schemes. if that’s not possible, try the British embassy, consulate or high commission.
And for information at your fingertips, why not search Education UK’s online database of more than 3,000 UK scholarships (www.educationuk. org/ scholarships)? It can be sorted by course and nationality to help you find the opportunities that best suit your needs.
First class universities
Universities in the UK (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) are known to be first class and especially for their teaching at the postgraduate (graduate) level. You can choose from a variety of instituions via the search box here.
Nearly 70,000 international students chose the UK as their grad school abroad destination last year. All this makes the UK one of the best graduate school destinations in the world.
Overall the UK is the second largest receiver of international students from all over the world and the largest for graduate school students from the USA.
A European Lifestyle
Studying in the UK, you will benefit from a European lifestyle as well as have the opportunity to pick from an extensive array of courses and programs. The degree programs are also generally shorter than they are in the US and also in some cases less expensive than the US. Most importantly, a majority of institutions do not require the various admissions tests (GMAT, GRE etc) that are a requirement for many US grad schools.
A different Education system
The learning (and teaching style) is also very different to that of the US. The onus is put on the individual student much more to do independent study and research, and much less in class tuition. The assessment is also in the form of continues assessment where you will be expected to turn in papers regularly and sit for both mid term and final exams. There are usually lectures and tutorials (short discussion groups) and laboratory sessions for those undertaking subject areas linked to the sciences.
There are around 90 universities in England, so it pays to do your home-work before you decide on your options. Wherever you decide to study, each institution will most certainly give you a high quality of education, but each of them would also have their own specialty, or a subject area that they excel at. So do you research to find out which university offers the exact match for your particular grad school subject area. This is the best way to find the best grad school option for you.
Scholarships for study in the UK
A new development from the British Council means that it is now possible to search for a scholarship online. You can now find any scholarships that are appropriate to your country of origin, level of study, subject, and institutions where you are interested in studying. To try the search, visit: The scholarships page
The main scholarships for master's courses are as follows:
If you are a very recent graduate of a US university, you may be eligible to apply for a Marshall Scholarship, which covers the tuition and living expenses for at least two years at a UK university. This scholarship is specially for US students and each year around 45 students are awarded this each year. You will find further information via the following link:
If you are intending undertake a research graduate program, many of the UK’s research programs offer scholarships. Contact British Council USA for further details. Further information about research, programs, funding can be found at the following link: http://www.hero.ac.uk/sites/hero/uk/research/index.cfm
Professional Degree programs
International Graduate Scheme
Further information can be found via the following link: http://www.workingintheuk.gov.uk/working_in_the_uk/en/homepage/ schemes_and_programmes/internationalgraduatesscheme.html
For further information, please contact British Council USA via the following link; http://www.britishcouncil.org/usa-education-graduate-degree.htm
Now take the next step... Excited about grad school in England? Take the the next step and start your journey. Send a request to all English Universities in our database in one go. And await further info on scholarships, studentships, new program offerings etc etc.