London Calling! Top Ten Reasons to Cross the Pond for College
Amy Christie, M.A.
Depending on how helplessly you have succumbed to your Netflix binge of The Crown, somewhere between The Queen’s flirtation with horse expert Porchie and Princess Margaret’s sizzling encounter with photographer Tony you may find yourself longing for a visit to jolly olde England. Americans have always been enchanted with red phone booths, kilts, The Beatles, and other UK icons. But for college students, the UK (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) offers far greater opportunities than just tea and scones. Below we have identified the top ten benefits of studying in the UK:
10. Cost - UK and EU citizens pay about £9,000 ($12,000) per year for an undergraduate degree; there was widespread outrage several years ago when fees increased. International students will pay more - ranging from $15,000 to $50,000 per year, but the fees are still lower than some US private colleges topping out at over $60K per year.
9. Quality - A UK bachelor’s degree is recognized internationally as a symbol of an outstanding education, and that includes many universities in the UK beyond just Oxford and Cambridge, such as University College London, University of Bristol, and University of Warwick.
8. Work experience - Many UK universities are increasingly aware that students seek work experience while studying their chosen course. Universities of various sizes, locations, and course specialities all offer internship placements and work experience as part of the undergraduate experience.
7. Easy flight - If you live on the East Coast, you are likely to find a direct flight to London that won’t take much longer than a flight to California. Cheerio!
6. Diversity - UK campuses boast a diverse group of UK and EU citizens as well as a wide variety of international students. For students seeking true diversity virtually impossible to replicate on an American campus and longing to immerse themselves in an inherently educational experience - even before setting foot in a lecture hall - the UK is a great option.
5. UCAS Common Application - All UK universities use the very streamlined and no-fuss online UCAS application. Students complete one application, one personal statement, obtain one reference, and choose five courses to which they may apply. If students meet the qualification requirements, then they will receive a conditional offer. If not, they don’t. No games, no strategizing, no scary commitments, no waitlists. No drama.
4. Independent learning - Students have the opportunity to dig deeper into their exploration of a specialized subject. Mature, independent, and naturally curious students who are eager to find the answers to their own questions about their chosen course of study - whether it be Theoretical Physics at Imperial or Celtic Civilizations at Glasgow - will thrive in the UK.
3. Three years - UK students earn a bachelor’s degree in three years, and some courses are offered as a four year Master’s degree. Again, for the motivated and mature student eager to enter the workforce or move on to a PhD as soon as possible, an expedited undergraduate degree makes sense.
2. Culture - Whether a student is longing to live out Harry Potter dreams or simply answering the call of an adventurous spirit, many students may find the uncommon lifestyle, personal values, and perspective they seek in the UK. For students less interested in Greek life, Division 1 football games, and bumper sticker pride and more interested in finding their tribe of artists, intellectuals, third-culture kids, and global citizens, the UK can provide a unique opportunity for a sense of belonging that may have eluded some American students in their high school years.
1. Focused studies - Some students already know exactly what they wish to major in before even hanging the Tupac poster in their dorm room. UK universities do not offer a liberal arts exploration period as do most US colleges, nor do they maintain a core curriculum or distribution requirements. Students apply to a specific course (like a major) at a university, not the university in general. The next three years are spent taking modules (classes) related to that course and nothing else. Therefore, a student who knows for sure that he wants to study European History for three years and absolutely nothing else, or a student who knows she wants to study Economics and Chinese for three years and absolutely nothing else, should definitely consider colleges in the UK.
Focused studies, three years of study abroad, and immeasurable opportunities for adventure and travel all within an English speaking country can provide a student with a truly life-changing undergraduate experience.