Going abroad for your graduate or postgraduate studies is a big deal. Before choosing to study in the UK, I considered several other countries. So I understand whatever confusion you may have around picking a study destination. If you are torn between choosing the UK and another country, considering what the pros and cons of studying in the UK are will help you make an informed decision, and that’s why I wrote this article.
Let’s get into it.
|High standard of learning facilities and conducive learning environment||High cost of living|
|Diverse range of courses||High cost of education|
|A UK degree is highly regarded globally||Unpleasant weather|
|The UK is relatively safe||Limited job opportunities|
|Cultural diversity = Global networking opportunity||Unstable policies|
|Access to travel to more countries||Studying in the UK could take a toll on your emotions|
|Tax free for students|
What is the advantage of studying at UK?
1. High standard of learning facilities and conducive learning environment
Most UK universities have up-to-date library resources, well-equipped labs, state of the art facilities and are situated in serene environments.
From my experience doing my MSc in Sheffield Hallam University, I can tell you that you can easily access whatever resources you need for your research and tutors are committed to the success of their students. In fact, learning almost feels personalized because of the small class sizes and interactive method of teaching. These impact positively on the quality of education.
Also, schools in the UK are often at the vanguard of research in various fields. It will be great to be a part of such research/ projects.
2. Diverse range of courses
There is an extensive range of academic programs you can choose from if you decide to study in the UK. Some schools even give students the opportunity to customize their courses and learning experience to suit their interests or goals.
3. A UK degree is highly regarded globally
Getting a degree from a UK university enhances your career prospects and significantly increases your chances of getting admission to further your studies in any other country.
4. The UK is relatively safe
Most people choose the UK as their study destination because it is safe. It is possible to live here for years without ever experiencing any crime. With the increase in insecurity in most countries around the world, it could be relieving to know this.
5. Cultural diversity = Global networking opportunity
People from over 100 countries in the world live, work and study in the UK. So you can already imagine how culturally diverse the country is! Studying the UK gives you the opportunity to network with, and experience different people and their cultures.
The diversity of the UK’s population provides an excellent gateway for people to network and form connections that are valuable even beyond academics. It is not uncommon to find people expanding their businesses to other countries after school based on the connection they made with people from other countries while studying.
6. Access to travel to more countries
With a UK visa stamp on your passport, the opportunity to travel to more countries is opened up to you. This may not mean anything to you, but if you are coming from a country where your passport limits your travel opportunities, you will understand how big of a deal this is.
As a student in the UK, you can apply for a Schengen visa. This visa gives you access to 27 countries.
7. Tax free for students
As a student, you are allowed to work part-time (20 hours/ week) and the first £12,750 you earn won’t be taxed.
You know language affects how one settles into a new environment.
Language-wise, it is fairly easy to settle in the UK because most people here speak English (which is the most popular language in the world). At first, you may find it difficult to understand everything people say because of their accents. But eventually, you will. Coming to the UK made me realize I don’t need to understand every single word a person says to have a conversation with the person. If I grasp just 5 out of 10 words s/he uses in a sentence, I can carry on with the conversation.
What are the disadvantages of studying at UK?
Having discussed the pros of studying in the UK, let’s look at some of the cons.
High cost of living
Accommodation, feeding, transportation and other basic expenses will take up almost all your earnings so that you are left with little to nothing to save. The cost of living in the UK is ridiculous- especially when you compare it with minimum wage (which is what most students earn). That’s why most people- even full-time salary earners- live on credit in this country.
2. High cost of education
As an international student be ready to spend thousands of £s funding your education if you do not get a scholarship.
3. Unpleasant weather
The UK’s weather is unpleasant for most part of the year. The only time when you get to enjoy the weather is during summer. But even during summer, the weather can be bipolar; one minute it’s bright and beautiful, the next minute it’s grey and gloomy.
If you are coming from a country that has a lot of sunshine and warmth, you will need quite some time to adapt.
4. Limited job opportunities
Because of the 20 hour/ week work restriction on student visas, it could be difficult to get the type of job you want. Most companies looking to hire want full-time employees.
5. Unstable policies
If your plan is to settle in the UK after your studies, it may be worth considering other countries or thinking of a back up plan. Policies surrounding settling in the UK are a bit vague, plus these policies change from time to time. You can decide to get a graduate visa after studies, but that expires after 2 years (if you did an MSc program) or 3 years (if you did a PhD.), and it does not count towards getting an indefinite leave to remain (ILR) status.
6. Studying in the UK could take a toll on your emotions
Leaving home to study in another country is already emotionally demanding enough. But when the country you are leaving home for is the UK, then be prepared to experience different spectrums of loneliness and homesickness. What people do not say enough about moving to the UK that you need to know is that the UK is a highly individualistic society. People keep to themselves a lot, so it could be hard to make new friends or acquaintances.
Questions people also ask
Is it worth it to study in the UK?
After considering the pros and cons of studying in the UK, this is definitely the next question.
As much as I’d love to provide a direct answer to this question, I cannot because it depends on you. What are your personal aspirations? Will studying in the UK help you achieve them? Are there other countries that can help you achieve your goals better and at a lesser expense?
Answering these questions will require some introspection and research. Please take the time to do these. Don’t choose to study in the UK because a lot of people you know are doing the same. As I pointed out earlier, you’ll be mostly by yourself in the UK. So whatever country you eventually choose, ensure you came to that decision after considering the facts.
Why international graduates are not getting jobs in UK
It is one thing to get a job, it is another to get the type of job you want and are qualified for. Most international students do not get the type of jobs they want upon graduating even if they are qualified for it because:
a. You need a visa to work in the UK.
Upon graduating, your Biometric Residence Permit (which is the document that proves you can live and work in the UK legitimately) expires within a few months. You can get a graduate visa to extend your stay in the UK, but like I pointed out earlier, that would last for just 2-3 years.
To obtain a visa which allows you to stay and work in the UK for more than 3 years (a skilled worker visa), you need to be sponsored by a company. However, this would cost the company money. So most companies would rather hire people that don’t need a visa to work in the UK than employ international graduates.
b. No UK work experience.
Organizations in the UK like to hire people with UK work experience. But recall that earlier, I highlighted that due to the limitation on the hours you are allowed to work as a student, getting the type of job you want while schooling could be hard. So at what point will international students get the UK work experience required?
Are UK degrees valid in the USA?
Yes, they are.
Now you know the pros and cons of studying in the UK, will you be choosing the UK as your study destination? Let me know in the comments below. If you will, I may be able to assist with other useful resources.
Studying in any country will come with its advantages and disadvantages- UK or not. But for you to get the best out of your investment, choose a country that presents you with more advantages than disadvantages. Whatever country you choose, do your best to explore the opportunities that country offers to your advantage.