Friday, April 29, 2016

STUDY ABROAD IN UNITED KINGDOM: ENGLAND, SCOTLAND, WALES AND IRELAND


Five Quick Points About the U.K.

  •   Second only to the U.S. as a study destination for international students
  •   London a major financial centre for the world
  •   Increasingly multicultural
  •   Old, rich, and tumultuous history for students with this kind of interest
  •   Scottish system of education quite distinct from the education systems in the rest of U.K.

Location and Geography

The United Kingdom is a sovereign state situated west of continental Europe; its total area is 244,820 square kilometres. It comprises four countries: England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Northern Ireland is the only part of the U.K. with a land border (with the Republic of Ireland); the rest of the state is surrounded by bodies of water (the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel, and the Irish Sea. The English Channel separates the U.K.'s southern coastline from France.

The United Kingdom is renowned for its level plains and rolling green countryside. These predominate in the south and the east, whereas to the north and the west, the landscape includes rugged hills and low mountains. The capital is London.

Living Conditions and Cost of Living

In the U.K., the cost of living can vary considerably depending upon location. Living costs can range from £120-£240 a week depending on accommodation. London is the most expensive area and can be up to 25% more than in other places in the U.K. Fees for overseas students studying in the U.K. can range from £4,000-£18,000 a year depending on the institution, the level, and the type of course. Further education fees are generally slightly lower than higher education fees.

Students from EU countries can receive National Health System (NHS) benefits while studying in the U.K., and may also be entitled to some financial or other forms of assistance. Non-EU students may be eligible for some health benefits under the NHS.

The U.K. lifestyle provides opportunities to experience a wide range of live theatre, museums, art galleries, historical towns and buildings. Travel is available to most parts of the U.K. via train and/or bus and the U.K. abounds in bed and breakfast accommodation as well as backpacker hostels.

Education System

The education system in the U.K. (except for Scotland) comprises four main sectors: primary, secondary, further education, and higher education.

Full-time education is compulsory for all children aged between 5 and 16 (inclusive). Students ordinarily attend primary until they are 11 years old and secondary until they are 16. They may then continue their secondary studies for a further two years (sixth form), leading most typically to an A-level qualification, although other qualifications and courses exist, including the BTEC and the International Baccalaureate. The Education and Skills Act 2008 raised the leaving age for compulsory education to 18. State-provided schools are free of charge to students, and there is also a tradition of independent schooling, but parents may choose to educate their children by any suitable means.

Higher education typically begins with a three-year bachelor's degree. Post-graduate degrees include master's degrees (usually one year and/or research) and PhDs (at least three years). Universities require a royal charter in order to issue degrees, and the state finances all but one with low fee-levels for students.

While the four countries of the U.K. have differing approaches to vocational education and training (VET), the training and qualifications are interchangeable and of the same standard. Three of the countries (England, Wales, and Northern Ireland) share a common system of external qualifications within the National Qualifications Framework. There are separate bodies within each country responsible for regulating these qualifications. These are the following types of student visa (source: UKBA website, listed below in links).
  • Tier 4 (Child) Student: Students can apply for this visa if they are between four and 17. If they are between 4 and 15, they must be coming to the U.K. to study at an independent fee-paying school.
  • Child Visitor: Students can apply as child visitors if they are 17 or younger and want to study in the U.K. for up to six months. Students with this visa cannot switch and apply for a Tier 4 (Child) student visa while in the U.K.; they would have to apply for it from their home country.
  • Tier 4 (General) Student: For students coming to the U.K. for their post-16 education. Student Visitor: Students must be 18 or older, want to study in the U.K. for up to six months, and not want to work while studying. Students with this visa cannot switch to a Tier 4 (General) student visa in the U.K.; they would have to apply for it from their home country.
  • Prospective Student: For students coming to the U.K. to help them decide which course to study, or for those who plan to start a course of study within six months. Students under this category will be able to switch and apply for a Tier 4 (General) or Tier 4 (Child) student visa while in the U.K.
Once approved, a visa is issued for the length of the course of study. Students may receive a visa for both an English-language and a Level 3 (further education) or Level 4 (higher education) course. Some student visas permit work while studying in the U.K.

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