Hundreds of thousands of international students study in the UK each year, giving the UK a consistently high ranking in popularity. With a diverse population and a reputation for prestigious schooling, the UK is a natural location for international students to flock to. And for students worldwide seeking an English-language education, what better place to study than the country that invented the language?

With an excellent higher-education system and hundreds of world-class universities, the UK promises a rich experience for international students. Our Study UK resource is intended to help you learn more about studying in the UK as an international student, and includes sections on choosing the UK as a destination, choosing a location within the UK, learning more about the country, its history and culture, and adapting to life in your adopted country.

About the UK
Why Study in the UK
UK Education System
Financial Aid for the UK
Studying/Living in the UK
After Graduation
Online Degrees from the UK

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 British Empire was once a world force, with territory as far flung as India, Canada, South America and Africa. Although colonial days are far gone and there has been a steady decline in the British Empire and the UK's influence around the world, the UK is still a major political and economic force, with membership in the G8 and an economy that is the fifth largest in the world and second largest in Europe. The UK’s colonial history also means that it has been subject to a multitude of international influences and influxes of people, helping to create the multi-cultural society that exists 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.

But what makes the United Kingdom stand out? Why should you come to the UK as a destination to further your international education?

Growing Destination
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:

Hong Kong

If you’re interested in studying in the UK, begin your search by exploring UK universities that will meet your needs and budget.

Worldwide Recognition
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.

Education Costs are Lower
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 masters 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. One recent study from the Higher Education Policy Institute warned that the UK must act to contain and reduce tuition and costs to stay competitive in the hunt for international students. 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.

Work Opportunities
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. Visit our Visa and Immigration pages for more details on working in the UK as an international student.

Scholarships/ Loans
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. Our Financing/ Scholarships section section has more detailed information, along with the following resources:

UK Scholarship Search
UK Loans for US Citizens
Education UK Scholarship Database

Gateway to Europe
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. Visit our Getting Around section for more UK travel information.

Multicultural Nation
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. For more information, visit our Religion section or visit the following sites:

Catholic Church in England
Church of England (Protestant)
Buddhist Society UK
Islamic Society UK
Judaism UK

Since the UK is such a melting pot, students can feel confident that a place of worship will be easily accessible for most major religions.

The education system in the UK is divided into four main parts, primary education, secondary education, further education and higher education. Children in the UK have to legally attend primary and secondary education which runs from about 5 years old until the student is 16 years old.

The education system in the UK is also split into "key stages" which breaks down as follows:

Key Stage 1: 5 to 7 years old
Key Stage 2: 7 to 11 years old
Key Stage 3: 11 to 14 years old
Key Stage 4: 14 to 16 years old

Generally key stages 1 and 2 will be undertaken at primary school and at 11 years old a student will move onto secondary school and finish key stages 3 and 4.

Students are assessed at the end of each stage. The most important assessment occurs at age 16 when students pursue their GCSE's or General Certificate of Secondary Education. Once students complete their GCSE's they have the choice to go onto further education and then potential higher education, or finish school and go into the working world.

Our overview of the education system in the UK is divided into five main sections:

Primary Education
Primary education begins in the UK at age 5 and continues until age 11, comprising key stages one and two under the UK educational system. Please visit the British Council page for more information on primary education.

Secondary Education
From age 11 to 16, students will enter secondary school for key stages three and four and to start their move towards taking the GCSE's - learn more about secondary education in the UK and what it will involve. Primary and secondary education is mandatory in the UK; after age 16, education is optional.

Secondary education in the UK normally starts for most students at the age of 11 years old. Though not common, in some parts of the UK there are middle schools which run up to 12 or 13 years old.

For international students coming into the UK for secondary education, it is common to either enter at the age of 11 or wait until the age of 13 and have one year in school before starting the two-year GCSE program which will run from 14 to 16 years old.

From the age of 11-14, students will study a broad range of subjects such as Music, Math, Science, English, etc. When reaching 14, students usually enter into their first year of a 2-year process known as your GCSE (or SCE for those who are in Scotland). GCSEs are a set of exams that test your knowledge.

Most schools follow the same method when it comes to GCSEs and you will take the following core subjects:

Sciences (either combined or separate Biology, Chemistry and Physics)

Students typically then select an additional 4 or 5 subjects to take in the GCSEs, and they can be subjects like French, German, Business Studies, Design and Technology, Music, and many more.

At state schools students typically take 5 to 10 GCSEs, depending on the student's ability and drive. For independent schools, which are usually a lot more results driven, it is not uncommon for students to take as many as 11 or 12, focusing more on academic subjects compared to the arts.

GCSEs take a total of 2 years and mark the end of compulsory education for students in the UK. Once they have completed their GCSEs students have the choice to either move into further education (with a path to higher education) or can leave school and look for work.

Further Education
Once a student finishes secondary education they have the option to extend into further education to take their A-Levels, GNVQ's, BTEC's or other such qualifications. UK students planning to go to college or university must complete further education.

When students reach the age of 16 and have completed their GCSEs they have a few options to choose from:

Find work
Academic Qualifications
Vocational Qualifications

If students opt for carrying on with their education this will take two forms, either by pursuing further academic qualifications or by following a vocational pathway.

Academic Qualifications
Most schools in the UK have what is called a "6th Form" for students to enter after they have taken their GCSEs. As an alternative, there are many "6th Form Colleges" that will offer the same courses from students at schools that do not have a 6th form. Here students typically study A-levels, further academic qualifications required of students before they enter higher education and a degree program.

A-levels, like GCSEs, follow a two-year program and there are two components to them: full A-levels and half AS-levels. Generally A-levels comprise of 6 modules, and an AS-level has 3 modules.

Students will generally take between two to three A-levels, but depending on your academic ability and drive you may take more. Students at independent schools may take anywhere up to 5 A-levels.

Vocational Qualifications
For students who are not so academically minded, they still have the option to further their education by studying a vocational course that will provide them with a more hands on experience and education.

The most popular vocation programs include:

BTEC Awards
National Vocational Qualification (NVQ)
City and Guilds Qualification

Most international students coming into the UK will be taking academic programs with the aim of gaining admittance to a degree program. If you are one of those students, visit the UK Higher Education System page.

Higher Education
Probably the most important subject area on this site, this explains more about the higher education system in the UK and how it works for international students. Most international students will enter directly into the UK higher education system, after completing their home country’s equivalent to the UK’s “further education.”

The UK has a variety of higher education opportunities. With over 100 universities offering various degree programs for students from the UK and around the world, there is no shortage of options. In the UK about one-third of all students go on to some form of higher education and this number is well over 50% for students from Scotland. This makes competition for schools very fierce and so it is advised to apply early for courses.

In the UK most undergraduate degree programs take three years to finish. However, the “sandwich course” is increasing in popularity, which is four years and involves one year in the workplace (normally in your third year). In Scotland the courses are four years for undergraduate programs.

Graduate or masters programs are generally shorter in length and undertaken after completion of an undergraduate program. Some professional degrees like medicine, veterinary, law etc., have longer programs that can take as many as five years.

International students pay the full school fees in the UK, and the total cost will vary depending on the school.

Entry Requirements
Each level of education in the UK has varying requirements which must be satisfied in order to gain entry at that level - learn more about the education entry requirements for the UK.

Each level of education in the UK has varying requirements which must be satisfied in order to gain entry at that level - learn more about the education entry requirements for the UK.

Entry Requirements to Study in the UK
Depending on what program you are looking at, the entry requirements will vary for international students. Although this page will provide you with some useful information with which to arm yourself about what is needed to gain entry into UK courses, you should inquire specifically to any course that you are considering.

What you will find in common throughout all courses and schools is that you will need to show competency in the English language.

English Language
For most schools and courses, your level of understanding and competency in English will be key to your acceptance in a major program such as a degree program. You will need to make sure you have a good level of English understanding and you can do this by taking one of the following commonly accepted tests of English ability:

TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language
IELTS - International English Language Testing System
UCLES - University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate

UK Degree Online
With online programs growing in popularity, this means the availability of top-notch online programs is also on the rise. If you want to obtain a UK accredited degree without having to relocate to the United Kingdom, choosing to study online is a good option for you. Getting a UK accredited degree online allows you to fit your studies into your schedule and save money on travel costs while having access to a variety of top programs.

The most common questions international students ask revolve around the need for financial aid of some form. The questions that arise include things like:

Where do I look for scholarships?
Can I find scholarships to study abroad?
Are loans available?
What expenses will I have to pay?

Of course, this is just a brief sample of some of the questions we get on a daily basis, but this section is designed to answer those questions and help you look for financial aid and have a better understanding of what funds are required to study in the UK.

Like nearly all other countries around the world, if you wish to study in the UK you will need to show proof of financial support whilst you are there - that is so the UK government does not have to pay or support you whilst you are studying in the UK.

So, how much will you need to study in the UK is probably the first main question you will have - and the answer is not simple. If you have read our other study advice pages for the UK you will have noticed that the UK, though a small country, is quiet diverse. You will see large variations between the south and London compared to the north of the country and this means that the south can be a lot more expensive, especially London, than other parts of the country.

There are a few golden rules you need to follow when looking at money matters and financial aid and those are:

Gather as much literature as possible.
You will want to obtain as much information about the University and the surrounding area as possible. Most universities will be glad to mail you information so ask them, and then try and contact the local information center for that city or area. By gathering all this information you will get more of an idea of the cost of things like accommodations and what is available in that area.

Ask questions and speak to other students.
Speak to as many students as possible, those that are already studying at that university and those generally in the UK - they will be able to give you first-hand cost experiences. Our message boards are a good place to start for this.

Do your research!
Information and advice is not going to fall into your lap - take time, research on the internet, read information that is mailed to you. It’s the best and only way to get the information you need!

Hopefully this will start you off on the right foot, and with the help of these financial aid pages you should be well on your way to learning more about finances for the UK:

Tuition/ Fees
How much will it cost to study in the UK? Can I even afford to consider the UK? Learn more about the tuition and fee range that most schools in the UK operate under.

The cost of tuition in the UK will vary depending on a number of factors. Things such as the location of the school, the type of course you plan to attend, the length of the course, etc., will all have a bearing on how much it will all total to.

To give you a simple guide we have put some numbers together that estimate how much it could cost for ESL courses and degree programs. Other courses and schools, such as those that offer A-levels and GCSEs fluctuate so much that we encourage you to contact schools to find this information. ESL Programs

ESL Programs
The best advice for ESL schools is to do your research and find a school that is in a good location, offers good student support, and have low class numbers. Although London will be a popular attraction for many students, it will be more expensive. Look further and see if other parts of the UK would interest you. This will also allow you to see more of the rest of the country.

For more information on ESL programs we would recommend a visit to the ESL Directory - which offers a free online database of schools around the world.

Undergraduate Degree
University fees for international students vary in the same way that ESL program fees vary. It is dependent on the course, the location of the university, etc... As a guideline you can expect to pay at least £10,000 year for courses. If your course is specialized, such as a clinical program for doctors, this can be as much as £38,000 per year. You will have to factor in that most university degrees last for 3 years, and 4 year sandwich programs are becoming a lot more popular.

Post-Graduate Degree
As a post-graduate student, the course length will generally be shorter, and class sizes will be much smaller. For this reason, fees will be higher ranging up to £14,620 for a course. If you are taking an MBA program, competition may firstly be fierce. Have your application and funds ready.

Living Expenses
The typical student will need to know what type of expenses they will need to plan for when studying in the UK - here is a brief outline.

Trying to calculate how much money you will need to bring with you when you come to the UK, or work out how much an English education will cost you will firstly need to run a budget - so please see our budget guide for studying in the UK.

To give you a guide on what things cost and what you should expect to pay we have separated this out into three categories, accommodation costs, living expenses and a sample of what a few universities in the UK estimate it will cost to attend there. As always, costs can vary depending on what part of the country you are planning to study in so always contact your University as they will give you the most accurate figures for the part of the UK.

Student Accommodation
As we highlighted in our student accommodation section, there are many options for places to live when you come to the UK, and each of these will vary in cost. If you are planning to come to the UK for University then you will most probably take the Halls of Residence option and these normally start from about £50 per week, moving up to around £80 per week for some larger universities. Some will have catering facilities such as a canteen, but others will just have a kitchen so you can cook your own food.

If you opt to not go the halls of residence option, you can always go and find your own accommodation and the best way to do this is get a group of 6 students that you would like to live with. You can then go house hunting and find your own accommodation. The benefit of doing this is that firstly it’s fun to look for a house together and secondly with 6 people costs are split 6 ways and so it can be a much cheaper option. Rents can range from anything from £35/ week upwards depending on the standard of accommodation.

If you are coming to the UK for ESL lessons or for another reason you might want to opt for a homestay. These are often shorter term visits and for that reason it is not common to come to the UK for a degree program and to stay at a homestay for the entire time of your degree. Homestays generally start from about £100/ week in London and much less if you go outside of London. Although this looks more expensive you have to consider that this price will be inclusive of meals and all accommodation.

Living Expenses
Working out what living expenses you will need to consider and how much they will cost you will depend on so many factors. For example if you want to live the lifestyle you have been doing with your parents back in your home country - this will probably be very expensive to do, so you might have to make compromises!

As a rough guide we have calculated what it could cost you for the major items you will need when you are in the UK:

If you buy your own food, try and budget in about £25 to £30 per week to purchase food supplies. You can of course be smart and savvy about this and save much more.

Telephone (landline)
BT has a base rate of £10/ month for just line rental so calls are charged on top of this so that would be £2.50 per week.

Telephone (mobile)
The cost of mobiles varies depending on the provider and tariff you are on. Prepaid is generally cheaper to control costs, but if you make a lot of calls a contract will start at £5/ week.

DSL / Internet
Most companies charge a base of £5/ week for standard DSL in the UK.

If you live in a house or apartment you will need to calculate water, heating and electricity into your budget - this can be anything from £10/week for all bills depending on the time of year.

If you live away from University you will need to include travel expenses in your budget. This can be anything from £10/ week, more if you live in London.

Study Materials
Books, notepads, paper, printer cartridges are all things you will need and you should budget about £7/ week for this.

It’s not all study when you come to the UK, there will be time for some fun so you need to think about the cost of this. A cinema ticket in the UK costs around £8, a pint of beer £3, a DVD rental around £3. These are all costs you will need to budget so set aside what you’ll need for fun!

Of course this list is not comprehensive, but will give you a starting point to work out what things will cost and the cost of living for the UK. There are also some things you can do to lower your living expenses and here are few tips:

Tip 1 - Student NUS Card
When you enroll as a student in the UK you will get an NUS card which is a student ID card from the National Union of Students. With this card you will be able to get discounts at many national stores - so always make sure you ask if you can get a discount!

Tip 2 - Choose where you shop
If you are living in your own flat, house or halls of residence with no catering you will need to buy your own food. It is common knowledge that supermarkets such as Sainsburys, Marks and Spencer and Waitrose are more expensive than Tesco and Asda. Save money and shop at Asda or Tesco.

Tip 3 - Student NUS Card
Your international calling costs will probably be high as you will want to call home often. If you have DSL you can take advantage of Skype to call around the world for little or nothing. But to also take advantage of cheap calls from your mobile or landline phone, check out the “Call UK” section for low cost calling from the UK.

Completing and sticking to a budget is the best way to keep your finances on track. Learn how you should budget and what things you will need to consider in your budgeting plans.

The budgeting and living expenses pages go hand in hand to help you create a realistic budget. You will want to use the information from our uk living expenses page and the information you have gathered on your own to create a useful and attainable budget.

The best place to start with any budget is to get a pen and paper or a spreadsheet and list all the expenses you can think of. Include things you pay for in your home country since you probably want those things when in the UK as well.

Step 1 - List your expenses
Some things to include on your list:

Housing & Bills

Health Insurance
Credit Cards

Day to Day

Dry Cleaning
Hair cut
Contact Lenses


Car Insurance
Car Tax
Car Repairs
Rideshare Allowance
Bus Pass
Rail Card
Subway Pass

DVD Rentals
Eating out
Music Lessons
Sporting Events

You will want to write down what you think you will need either on a weekly or monthly basis for the items above. Of course not all will apply to you but these suggestions are a good starting point. Remember to include your specific requirements that may not be mentioned here. For example, if you are in an art course you will need to factor in art supplies.

Step 2 - Add it all up
Your list might be pretty long by now but don't let that deter you. Add all the values up to come up with a monthly or weekly figure for what you think you will be spending.

Step 3 - Cut back
Now that you have a figure, go back to your expenses and see where you can cut back on things and make notes of how you are going to make those cut backs.

Some money saving tips are:

Don't buy magazines or newspapers but look at them online. It not only save the environment but also saves money.

If you want to party, try to go to student places as they are often much cheaper.

Turn your heating down.

Budgets do not work if you stick to them rigidly. You will want to have some room to buy extra things every now and then, but keep to your financial plans as best as possible.

Once you have made a budget you may be a little down-hearted by how much it will cost you. Don’t let this deter you. Take a look at our other financing pages page for more helpful information along your way.

Sources of Funding
Where can you obtain funding? What sources are the best for international students coming into the UK?

So far in this section you have learned about the cost of tuition, how much you will need to consider for living expenses and how to put this all into a budget for your own personal needs.

We now turn our attention to how to find funding and where to look. The majority of international students that are interested in coming to the UK are not able to support themselves so need to look at other options with which to fund their studies.

The most popular and common sources of funding for students are:

Own Country
Not many students know this but your home country could be one of the biggest sources of funding, and this will be either from local government or from companies based in your home country. The best way to look for this is contact your local government office and see what they recommend - most have websites so you can easily do this online.

Also, try to think of two or three (or as many as you can) large companies that are located in your home country and send letters and enquiries to them asking about studying assistance. One thing to consider, however, is that funding from your home country may have a requirement that you come back home once you have finished your studies to work.

International Organizations
There are several International Organizations, such as the Fulbright Commission who grant aid to students all over the world. Other such organizations who offer aid are:

The United Nations
World Council of Churches
Soros Foundation
World Health Organization
Many of these require you to be in your home country when you apply, so plan ahead and early as they can be very competitive.

UK Universities/ Schools
Some UK colleges and universities offer limited financial aid for international students to attract students to that institution. Your best option with this is to contact the school directly to get more information and the requirements of the financial aid.

You should request information about financial aid when you request an application form from the institution's admissions office. In some instances, it may be possible for you to participate in a formal exchange between your home institution and the institution you wish to attend. You can get more information on such exchanges by contacting the international student offices or by contacting the corresponding office at your institution. This kind of person-for-person exchange can reduce expenses in some instances.

Private Organizations
In some circumstances, UK companies may provide some form of financial aid for students to study in the UK and then work for them once they have graduated. The best resources to look for this type of financial aid are:

International Scholarships Database
International Education Financial Aid
International Student Loans

The biggest source of income for international students still comes from your own family. As a recent study by the Institute of International Education (IIE) showed, nearly 65% of all international students were funded by their family and relatives. So, ask your parents, ask your uncle and aunt as it is proven that they are the main source of funding for international students.

Student Loans
Student loans are available for US students studying at colleges and universities in the UK, whether on a short-term basis or for an entire degree program. Some other countries have student loan programs that are available to citizens of that country that are studying internationally (for instance, India); unfortunately, they usually do not have the funding limits and flexibility of US student loan programs.

The Study Abroad Loan is for US students that are enrolled in an approved US school and studying in the UK on a study abroad program of a year or less. The Foreign Enrolled Loan is for US students studying at least half-time at approved schools in the UK towards a full degree or certificate program.

Visit or for more information on loans for US students studying in the UK.

Please see our next section for full and further information about scholarship opportunities for international students who are studying in the UK.

Most students will rely on scholarships as their prime source of funding and here is a good place to start your search.

One of the most popular searches on is how to obtain a scholarship or where to look for one. In short, the answer to all scholarship questions is unless you take the time and energy to look for one. Work diligently to prepare an excellent application package for each scholarship you plan to apply for.

Students cannot expect scholarships and financial aid to fall into their lap, so do your research and try to find scholarships that will work for you and apply to any that you could quality for. There are many places to look for scholarships. This section is designed to provide you with a starting point.

It can be very hard to find a good scholarship site but one thing you should be very careful of are sites that charge you access to search for scholarships. You should not need to pay money to find scholarships. Keep to the free resources that are just as good.

Free Scholarship Resources

International Scholarships - they have an online database that is open to all students. You will need to register an account but once that is done (at no cost) you can have access to view and search international awards.

International Education Financial Aid - similar to the site above offering students a free resource of international scholarships for study around the world.

Education UK Scholarship Search - specific to the UK, this directory provides a free scholarship search like the 2 sites above.

How to spot a scholarship scam!
Scholarship scams are all over the place, and as an international student you are a prime target for people to scam you out of money. The general rule of thumb when it comes to scholarship scams are:

If you must pay money to get money, it might be a scam.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Spend the time, not the money.

Nobody can guarantee that you'll win a scholarship.

Legitimate scholarship foundations do not charge application fees.

If you're suspicious of an offer, it's usually with good reason.

Am I eligible for a scholarship?
Eligibility depends on the scholarship. There is no general rule of thumb on whether you are eligible for a scholarship. All scholarships vary in their eligibility requirements, some ask for a certain TOEFL score, some ask that you are from a certain country. You will need to do your own research to see if you are eligible for a scholarship.

How do I apply?
As with eligibility, there is not set rule on how to apply for scholarships. Some ask for a specially written piece of work, some ask for you to be pursuing a certain field, and some just require you to complete an application form. If you find a scholarship that you think you may be eligible for, contact the award administrator.

As described in our "About the UK" section, the UK is made up of four parts: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Although it is all one country, there are many distinct regions with varying accents and cultures. For such a small country, it is full of diversity.

The aim of this section is to give you background information about the UK, and answer questions like:

What is Scotland like to study in?
How is the weather in Cornwall during the summer?
Can I easily travel around the UK?
Can I get a bank account?

If you would like to get started on your search for a university you can visit our UK school search. Otherwise, we have broken this section down into sub-categories to make it easier to read and understand.

Map and Climate
Locate the UK’s major cities and distinguish between Wales, Scotland, England, and Northern Ireland, and get a peek at what your weather expectations should be.

The maps below will help you locate the UK’s major cities and will show you how the UK divides up into England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Each country is then further divided into counties.

General Climate Conditions
The UK has a reputation for having cold, wet and dreary weather. Although this may be true for some times of the year, the UK is actually much better than most think - and can have some great weather during the summer months.

If you wish to get the most out of the UK, then the times to visit are the summer months when days are long (the sun generally rises at 4 am and will set at 9 or 10 pm at night) and you can expect warmer temperatures.

Generally, there are four distinct seasons to the UK; summer, winter, spring and autumn.
The summer months are by far the best times to visit the UK if you are looking for warmer temperatures and longer days. Expect temperatures to be in the region of 15 to 25°C (59° - 77°F), but the UK has experienced even warmer conditions (over 30°C/86°F) over the past few summers.

You can, of course, get rain during the summer months, but generally summer is a wonderful time in England.

Spring runs from March to May and offers some of the prettiest times to visit England with blooming flowers, warming temperatures and cheerier dispositions. Although temperatures during these months generally range from about 5 to 15°C (41° - 59°F), don’t be surprised if winter last longer or summer comes early – springtime weather in the UK is unpredictable!

Winter generally runs from November to March - though you can expect this to run longer during some years - and is characterized with cold weather, rain, sometimes snow and fog. Winter days in the UK the days are short and nights are long, with the sun rising at about 7 or 8am and setting at about 4 pm.

Temperatures during these months often range between 0 to 7°C (32° - 45°F) and although sunny days are possible they will be cold. If it does snow, which is more likely in the northern part of England and Scotland, accumulation will generally only be a couple of inches and will not last long. It is rare for England to have snow that will blanket the country.

If you come from a part of the world where seasonal changes are not very dramatic, you will be enthralled by fall. Autumn arrives in September, with dipping temperatures and shortening days, all as a pre-cursor of the winter to come. Temperatures during autumn will generally be anywhere from 5 to 15°C, but fall can provide beautiful weather, especially in light of the long dreary winter ahead.

The UK is an island, so it receives a large amount of rain. It can rain during any season and on any given day – so bring your umbrella!

Geographic Differences
In these pages we provide a very general overview of UK weather and seasons. Obviously there are geographic differences in weather patterns through the UK that can be fairly dramatic.  For instance, because it’s located at the extreme north of the island, Scotland can be much colder during both winter and summer months. For weather information specific to your locale, visit the Met Office Website.

People and Culture
Learn a little about British Culture and the people.

The UK has a very multicultural society and is very open to new religions and cultures. While also keeping long-held traditions like maintaining a royal party, the UK has changed greatly and has become much more cosmopolitan and multicultural. The UK is seen as a destination of great diversity with London being the hub for many international students.

The main religion in the UK is Christianity which makes up about 50 percent of the religious population, largely split between the Church of England and Catholicism.

In addition to Christianity, the UK has large numbers of practicing members of other major world religions, as follows:

Christian: 50.7%
Muslim: 2.5%
Hindu: 0.7%
Jewish: 0.6%
Sikh: 0.3%
Buddhist: 0.6%
Other non-Christian: 1.5%

The main language in the UK is English, which is spoken throughout the whole country. In Wales, some people still speak Welsh. However, since all Welsh people also speak English, you only need to speak English in the UK. For such a relatively small country, there are a lot of dialects, and some of them can be hard to understand, even for English people. Dialects can include:

Cockney: people from London (and probably the most common)
Brummy: people from Birmingham
Mancunian: people from Manchester
West Country: people from Devon, Cornwall and Bristol area
Scouser: people from the Liverpool area
Geordie: people from Newcastler, Middlesborough and Sunderland
Scottish: people from Scotland
Welsh: people from Wales

If the UK sounds like a location with the type of culture you would like to immerse yourself in as an international student, begin the process of searching for a UK university.

Student Accommodation
What type of accommodation are you going to encounter when you come to the UK? Dorms, homestays, a private flat? Which will be best for you?

While you are staying in the UK, you will many accommodation options available to you. Your choices will depend largely on whether your college or university has halls of residence, what city you are located in, and the amount of your monthly budget.

When you sign up for a college or university, you will need to indicate that you require accommodation (unless you have something pre-arranged). Do not assume that you will automatically be given accommodation. As an international student, you will likely be given housing priority.

Once you have been accepted into a program, start looking and arranging accommodation right away. Places fill up very quickly and demand often exceeds supply.

Halls of Residence
Halls are a great way to meet new people. They are large buildings, sometimes divided into flats where you will have either a single room or share with another student. Your room is likely to be basic, and if it does not have an en-suite bathroom, communal ones will be provided. Halls provide standard furniture such as a bed, desk, and chair. Anything more is supplied by the student.

Most halls of residence have a canteen with food for students (usually at a fixed cost). As an international student the food may be unfamiliar, but eating at the canteen would be good way to immerse yourself in the culture of the UK. Halls are either single or co-ed, so if you have a preference for either you will need to inform your university from the beginning when choosing where to live.

Apart from the rooms, there are also communal areas that could have a bar (it is legal to drink alcohol at 18 in the UK), TV, pool table, etc.

Self-Catered Halls
Many international students prefer the self-catered option because it allows them the freedom to cook their own food and on their schedule. Self-catered halls are similar to standard halls of residence, but there includes a communal kitchen available to hall residents. These kitchens so frequently used by students do have a reputation for becoming unsightly when not kept up, so try to do your share in cleaning behind yourself and encouraging the same of others.

Flats/ Houses
Typically students live in halls during their first year, as it makes adjusting to campus life much simpler and helps in making friends. In their second and third years, some students opt to move into a house or flat not associated with the school.

If you do move into a flat or house, you will have to sign a tenancy agreement, which is a legal document outlining the terms of your stay. Make sure you fully understand the terms and issues of the contract, and if you do have any doubts talk to your international student advisor who can assist you.

A flat or house is likely the most costly option, and you may find it hard to find accommodation that is close to campus. However, many students enjoy the freedom to live where they choose, live with whom they like, and choose the type of place they want to live in. With halls, you don't have this flexibility.

For more information about student housing and renting accommodation as a student in the UK, read our two articles covering "What you need to know about student renting in the UK" and "What you need to know about student renting in the UK" and "Student Housing Overview fo the UK".

Travel Accommodations
Many students across the world consider traveling or studying abroad. However, money is a large deciding factor - especially when you have to take accommodation, visa expenses, and flight tickets into account. Many students who plan on studying or traveling abroad want to travel the world and see more of the country/continent where their host institution is located.

It can be relatively cheap flying from one country to the other in Europe, with low cost airlines becoming more abundant there. High-speed trains are also an alternative that could be less expensive with minimal travel times. Keep in mind that trying to find affordable accommodation – especially at peak times- can be difficult . Hostels are often the least expensive option.

Getting Around
What is the best way to get around the UK? There are many transportation options - some cheaper than others.

While you’re in the UK, you’ll be on the move all the time. Whether you are just going to class or to a local store, taking a weekend trip to another part of the country, or travelling to Europe, you’ll need transportation. The UK has a very good public transport system, with an extensive network of buses, planes and trains which simplify travelling - plus you can rent cars pretty cheaply as another option.

With the huge growth in low cost airlines over the last five years, it is now easier than ever to travel the UK and throughout most of Europe. Some fares on the main low cost airlines will be as little as £0.01 for a one way trip (plus taxes and charges) and so at these prices you cannot go wrong! One tip – watch those taxes and charges, as they can add up quickly.

The main low cost airlines include:

Ryan Air
BMI Baby
Jet 2

Underground / Trams
If you are located in a major metropolitan area, such as London or Manchester, the cheapest and most cost effective means of transport is the underground or tram system. In London, the underground (otherwise known as the "Tube") offers a vast network of lines traveling to all parts of the city. They run all day and generally finish at midnight most days. For smaller cities such as Manchester or Nottingham, tram systems offer service to major parts of the city. Trams and underground offer discounted longer-term passes, like the Oyster Card for the Tube, which will save you a lot of money in your daily commuting.

Train service around the UK is improving rapidly, as the National Rail Network works hard to overcome its historical stigmas of frequent delays and high costs. The train is an efficient and comfortable way to travel around England, especially if you are going to or from London. To learn more information about the National Rail Network, please visit

The UK is also a great stepping stone to Europe, and with the Channel Tunnel, you can now travel direct to Paris, Brussels and other major European destinations very easily. More on the Eurostar can be found at

As a student, buses will be the most popular form of transport if you want to travel locally and throughout the country. Most cities and towns have some form of bus service – the larger the city, the more extensive the service. To travel throughout the UK, the National Express bus service runs convenient service to all parts of the UK. To learn more about their service, please visit

Traveling by car can be very expensive and thus may not be an option for many international students. There is also the added complication of licenses and registrations. If you decide to purchase a new car, the dealer from whom you purchase should take care of all the registration documents.

If you are coming from one of the following countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) you will be able to drive using your current license. However if you are not from one of these countries you will have to check to see if you can drive on your current license - more information can be obtained from the DVLA in the UK.

If you do drive in the UK, please observe these main rules:

You must drive on the left-hand side of the road and overtake on the right

If you are riding a motor cycle or a moped, you must wear a crash-helmet

The driver and front seat passengers must wear seat belts. Rear seat passengers must wear seat belts where they are fitted

You must not drive whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs

You must observe speed limits:
    30 or 40 mph (miles per hour) in towns and built-up areas
    70 mph on motorways and 60 mph on all other roads

You must observe the minimum age requirements:
    The minimum age for driving a car or riding a motorcycle up to 25kW is 17 years of age
    The minimum age for driving a medium-sized goods vehicle is 18 years of age
You must have a license that allows you to drive in the UK

Money Matters
This section will help you budget in the UK.

The currency throughout the UK is British Pounds (£). It may take you a while to get used to the exchange rate from your country. This website will help you calculate exchange rates in the short term.

Bank Accounts
International students are allowed to open a bank account in the UK, and some universities require their students to have a UK bank account. Whether mandated or not, having an account helps with managing your finances, and you should plan to open one.

Before you leave for your school abroad, speak to your current bank to discuss the best options for transferring money to a new account in the UK. Make sure to bring a bank card or another method to access money you have in your home country bank account since it could take several weeks for you to open a UK account and transfer money into it. As an alternative, you could bring several hundred pounds worth of travelers checks to cover your first few weeks.

You should also research UK banks. Ask your university for advice and research online. Start the process of opening your account before you arrive. That way, you will have selected a bank ahead of time and you will be sure of what you need to bring. When selecting a bank, pay attention to fees and services the account you choose offers. A debit card is very helpful, especially if you don’t already have a major credit card.

Although you should double-check with your selected bank, to open a bank account in the UK, you will need the following:

- Your passport (or you can also use your national identity card if you are from an EU country)
- Your unconditional acceptance letter from your university
- Evidence of your current address in the UK (for instance, your tenancy agreement or student accommodation contract)

A "basic bank account" is the type of account most set up by international students. Since basic accounts often don't provide bank cards or checkbooks, you should see if your bank has a student account or another type of account that will allow you these conveniences. The process of opening a UK bank account can take around two weeks.

For a guide to opening a UK bank account for international students, visit Save the Student.

Debit or Bank Cards
Debit cards or bank cards are an excellent option for international students. Many banks now typically provide a bank card when you open an account. The bank card is affiliated with a credit network, like Visa or Mastercard, so you can use your card to withdraw money from a cash point and you can also use it just like a credit card to make purchases online or in stores. Unlike credit cards, when you use a bank card the money is instantly taken from your account, so if you do not have enough funds in your bank account, the card will be rejected. For students new to the UK, a bank card is highly recommended since it allows you to do things and make purchases that require a credit card. Airline tickets, theatre tickets, rental cars, mobile phones, and online purchases will be much easier to do with a bank card rather than with cash or travelers’ checks.

Credit Cards
Credit cards are also available to international students. Like debit cards, credit cards allow you to make purchases online and access services that you cannot access with cash or checks. A credit card is also a good idea if you want to maintain good financial records, as your monthly statement will serve as a reminder of how you're spending money.

Note that a credit card may turn into a very expensive payment option. If you are not able to pay the balance within the specified grace period – typically between 20 and 30 days, you will end up paying interest fees. Be careful to read all of the details of the credit card offer before committing to it. Learn the structure of the credit card company's fees and interest charges. Learn all you can to make an informed decision before opening any credit cards.

Some companies are reluctant to issue credit cards to international students, since they are not likely to have an established credit history. If you already have a major credit card from your home country, bring it with you. After the U.K. bank reviews your credit limit on the foreign card, they may be more likely to offer you a credit card. Banks with which you have accounts are also more likely to accept your request for a credit card.

Visa and Immigration
Learning more about your visa, who needs one, and what to do to get one.

As with the USA, entry to the UK is getting harder and harder as the government tightens up border controls and there are constant threats of terrorist activities. Tighter procedures impact everyone, but should not deter you if you wish to come to the UK.

Students From Non-EU Countries
Here's a brief overview of the rules for the Student Visitor Visa (less than 6 months) and the Student Visa/Prior Entry Clearance (greater than 6 months). These rules apply only to students from non-EU countries.

Student Visitor Visa - the Student Visitor Visa is for those that plan a stay of less than 6 months. Under the Student Visitor Visa, a student cannot have paid employment or an internship greater than 2 credit hours, and cannot extend their stay once they have arrived.

Student Visa/Prior Entry Clearance - if you plan to stay in the UK for more than 6 months, if you may extend beyond 6 months, or if you want to work or have an internship greater than 2 credit hours, then you need to apply for a Student Visa/Prior Entry Clearance.

Applying for a Student Visa
You should apply for a Student Visitor Visa, a Student Visa, and Prior Entry Clearance before leaving your home country. If you don’t, you risk being turned away at arrival if you do not have all appropriate documents and information.

To apply for a student visa you will need the following:

- Be accepted and enrolled in a recognized full-time degree course, or
- A course run during the week involving at least 15 hours of organized daytime study each week, or
- A full-time course at an independent fee-paying school

You also have to:

- Be able to pay for your course and support yourself and any dependents, and live in the UK without working or needing any help from public funds
- Be able and intend to follow your chosen course
- Intend to leave the UK when you complete your studies

Working After Degree Completion
Like the US, students who complete a degree program in England are allowed to apply for a one year extension of their visa to allow them to gain work experience in the UK, without having to obtain a work permit. Students studying in Scotland are able to extend their visas and work for two years after completing a degree at a Scottish university, helping to make Scotland a particularly attractive destination for international students.

The information contained here is for guidance purposes only and to give you a starting point. Consult either your school or a qualified immigration lawyer in the UK for expert guidance and assistance.

Visit the UK Government Visa website for more information.

After you have graduated in the UK you have several options and choosing the right path may not be easy. The most common courses for international students include returning home or look for work in the UK.

You should explore all options to decide which is the best route for you.

The main options for students after they graduate from studying in the UK are:

Graduate School
For some students with the studying "bug", you may want to further your education and this is typically done at graduate school to study for your MBA, Ph.D. or another postgraduate course.

Once you have completed your undergraduate education, you could attend graduate school. The UK is renowned for its choices of educational opportunities and whether you want to apply to do a masters, Ph.D., attend medical school, attend business school, or law school, the choice can be tough.

Graduate school is a different atmosphere compared to your undergraduate program. Work is harder, and students generally take it a lot more seriously.

Attending grad school can be extremely expensive and you have to consider whether it will be a worthwhile option for you. If you have already accumulated debt while taking your undergraduate course, is it a viable option to incur more debt? Do you think you will make enough money after you have completed your graduate course to off the debts? Keep these questions in mind when making your furthering education decisions.

Right School?
You will have to decide which school is right for you. Competition for grad school entry is competitive so you'll want to apply to more than one so that you can keep your options open. Before you apply, research each school you're considering and decide which will fit your needs.

You can find numerous resources online to help in your search.

If possible, visit all the grad schools you’re considering in person. By doing this you get a better feel of the institution, and you are able to meet with tutors and professors in person to ask specific questions. If you are going to attend graduate school you need to make sure you will be happy there so be diligent in your research.

For graduate school options in the UK, visit our UK School Search.

Job Search
Looking for work is common, especially for international students since some may have debts and want to pay them back. Whether you return home or stay in the UK, we’ve some helpful tips in landing a job.

As an international student looking for a job, you will need to make sure to be compliant with the terms of your visa. You will need to know all about the requirements before you begin looking for a job.

To get more information about your visa and how this will work please either contact your international advisors at university, or visit the UK Visa's website for more information.

Once you've gathered your information, you can start looking for a job, and the Job Centre has information to help you find a job.

Some helpful tips for job hunting:

- Research the employer, either through their website or calling their offices to get some more information. See if you can find any articles or other information about the company online. The more you research, the better chance you will have at an interview.

- Understand your strengths and weaknesses. If you can make a list of these, you will be able to draw on them in an interview.
- Submit your resume online and bring some on paper for the in-person interview. This shows you have put in extra effort.
- Follow up with companies when you have sent in your resume. After 1 or 2 weeks, call them to make sure they have received it.
- When you get to an interview, practice as much as possible. There are many good websites where you can practice mock questions. This along with your research of the company should give you a leg up on other candidates.
- If not given, ask for a written job description and company prospectus or profile.
- At the interview, wear business appropriate clothing and keep your appearance neat and tidy. Remain confident with eye contact and strong, firm answers.

Returning Home
If you decide to return home there are going to be many hurdles, especially if you come from a country that is very different from the UK. Learn how to cope with "reverse culture shock" and other things that could cross your path upon your return home.

When you first arrived in the UK, you may have experienced culture shock. New surroundings, a new environment, new traditions, etc., can leave you feeling disoriented and isolated.

The same is true when you return to your home country – you can experience reverse culture shock. After spending anywhere up to 3 or 4 years in the UK, you have become accustomed to English ways, English traditions, your new expatriate life, in ways you may not even realize.

Readjusting to life at home can be extremely difficult and frustrating. Take things one day at a time. As they did in your time abroad, things will get easier with time. Try to focus on the positives of being back home. Everything from home that you’ve missed during your time abroad is available to you again!

Some students choose to keep mementos when they return home. Something small that you can carry with you is nice to have with you as a reminder of your experiences. It can also serve as a reminder that you can always go back.

After returning home, you can combat culture shock by putting your new global knowledge, experience, and intercultural skills to work. Colleges are historically great places for social, ecological, peace, and political movements to root. Being surrounded by young, driven, like-minded people is a highly conducive environment for initiating change. Use your new-found take on life to make your world a better place, wherever that is.

The degree and severity of this shock will also depend on what country you are from. The good news is that the US and many parts of Europe have similar cultures to the UK so the shock may not be severe.