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All You Need to Know: Higher Education in UK

Higher Education in UK

The distance of seven seas seems trivial when you consider that India is the second-largest English speaking nation and not the UK, and chicken tikka masala is the national dish of the UK, not India. India and the UK have a complex love-hate relationship, these two countries share a huge history and also have deep cultural similarities.

The system of higher education in UK has played an important role in the foundation of the Indian education system. There are many similarities in the education pattern of both the countries and hence students from India prefer to pursue further education in the UK. Today, higher education in UK has emerged as the world’s second most preferred student destination for all international students.

After China, India contributes the largest number of international students to the UK. Every year, an average of 20,000 students enroll for their graduate and post-graduate courses in the UK. The numbers showed a steady escalation since 2001 and reached above 22,000 in 2012. However, the numbers dwindled to 18000 in 2014.

Educationists in India and the UK believe that the numbers will be restored in the coming admission season and there is going to be a steep increase in international students choosing higher education in UK in the coming years. If you are planning to pursue your further education in the UK, the following information will come in handy.

Types of Colleges

The UK homes some of the oldest universities in the world. With universities like Oxford and Cambridge, UK has been providing a quality college education for more than 10 centuries. There are many private and state-owned universities in the UK. The fees differ a bit in these two types of universities, but the quality of education remains unaffected by the fees.

Oxford and Cambridge together referred to as Oxbridge college are the best universities in the UK and are compared with the Ivy League colleges of the USA. However, Ivy League colleges are privately run while Oxbridge colleges are state-owned. Colleges in the UK are grouped in the following way.

Ancient Universities: These are the universities that were founded in the UK and Ireland during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance Period. In other words, these universities were founded before the 16th century. Apart from being oldest universities, these universities are also lauded for their immense contribution to the scientific and academic realm. The following is a list of few Ancient Universities:

  • University of Oxford
  • University of Cambridge
  • University of St Andrews
  • University of Glasgow
  • University of Aberdeen

Red Brick Universities: These are the group of universities that were built in the Victorian Age that is mostly during the second half of the 19th century. These are so named because of the red brick type of architecture prevalent in those times. These universities are renowned for their contribution to practical education and consist of the following universities: 

  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Leeds
  • University of Liverpool
  • University of Manchester

Plate Glass Universities: These universities are the universities founded after 1960 and are so-called because of their use of postmodern architecture using plate glass. These are the underdog UK universities and don’t have much reputation. However, recently these universities have gained some reputation especially in the field of research. Following are the top Plate Glass Universities:

  • Aston University
  • Brunel University
  • University of Bath
  • University of Bradford
  • University of Essex

Credit System in the UK

Higher education in UK follows a similar credit system as the USA. The students of colleges or universities in the UK receive credits based on the number of contact hours required per week in the class. In other words, the credit system tells you about the number of hours a student is expected to study every week to clear a semester.

Generally, the semester in the UK is around 15 weeks and a student has to earn a minimum of 45 credits to clear the semester. Unlike the US education system, there is a lot of homework in the UK education system. This includes study notes, assignments, supplementary readings, writing papers, etc.


The tuition fees in the UK vary on the basis of several factors like the type of college, opted course, the location of college, etc. The average tuition fee for an international student can range between 12,000 to 35,000 British Pound per year. Apart from the fees, the cost of living in the UK is comparatively expensive and can cost around 12,000 British Pound per year. This is the most important factor one must consider before finalizing higher education in UK.

Although the tuition fees in the UK might appear costlier than most of the other study destinations, the shorter duration of courses compensates for it. Most of the undergraduate courses are of three years duration while the masters’ program is of one-year duration. This way, the student can save the expenses incurred on one year’s tuition fees and living costs.

Part-time work options (on & off campus)                          

Just like the USA, the international students in the UK are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week when the term is going on and full time during the vacations. Most of the universities in the UK have limited on-campus jobs for international students and it is advisable to register for jobs right after enrolling for admission. When it comes to off-campus jobs, it is comparatively difficult to find such jobs in the UK and it is important to consult your international advisor regarding off-campus jobs so that you don’t violate any of the immigration laws.


Finding the most fitting shelter is comparatively easier in the UK than in the US. The student has many options when it comes to finding accommodation in the UK.  To give you a brief idea, the following are the accommodation options for students:

  • On-Campus Dormitories: Almost every university in the UK facilitates a well-functioning student dormitory. The students can apply for the on-campus dormitory with the admission department off the university. These dormitories are designed keeping in mind the students’ needs and are the best and safest accommodation options for international students.
  • Off-Campus Apartments: If the University you select doesn’t have a dorm or it is already occupied, you can look for off-campus accommodation. The off-campus apartments are widely available and one can easily find such accommodations online. Such accommodations are also available on the basis of shared occupancy and private hostels.

Higher education in UK is one of the best platforms that can propel you towards a brighter future. The education system in the UK can cater to a wider range of career aspirations starting from philosophy, law, and humanity to science and technologies. Now that you know about the 5 important things to be considered while selecting education in the UK, it is time to saddle your horses and start marching ahead.

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