British universities are renowned for excellent teaching, world-class research, state-of-the-art facilities and superb libraries. But whether you head to Scotland, Wales, England or Northern Ireland, studying anywhere in the UK is more than just formal education in seminars, lecture theatres and laboratories. The networking and cultural opportunities available to students at UK universities can be as valuable as the degree itself.
Lizzie Vickery, 27, from Canada, is studying for her MA in Photography in London. Lizzie chose the UK because ‘there are no comparable programmes in Canada.’ Like many other students, Lizzie was attracted to the UK by the quality of the education, and also by the art galleries, museums and buzzing international scene. ‘London’s really multicultural,’ she enthuses. ‘There are lots of international students and the city’s really vibrant.’
For Eralp Kortac, 23, studying in the UK was a dream he’d had since high school. ‘I always wanted to live in the UK. It’s a good place to make new friends and a great place to improve my English.’
Aside from his academic work, Eralp takes advantage of the many concerts, gigs and festivals in the UK. He is studying for his MA in London, but completed his BA in Brighton, a seaside town 85km south of London. Eralp advises prospective students to consider applying to universities in smaller UK towns. ‘I did my first degree in Brighton. London is amazing, but student life is great outside of London too!
Life of opportunity
Whether you choose to study in a large city, a town or a rural location, you’ll find student life brings opportunities to meet people from many backgrounds, to exchange ideas, and take part in sports or hobbies. And whatever your passion – from music to hockey and everything in between – there’ll be a society at university where you can meet like-minded people.
Outside university there are numerous arts and cultural events, and many offer discounted entry for students. Plus there are beautiful landscapes and ancient historic sites to explore. Lizzie says, ‘there’s so much to see and it’s great to photograph. I’ve enjoyed discovering the countryside and have been to the Lake District, the Highlands, Stonehenge…’
At first it may seem difficult to leave friends and family at home, but living overseas gives you the opportunity to live independently and gain a new perspective on life. Of course, it’s not always easy to decide what universities to apply to when your chosen destination is across the Atlantic. University fairs, like Study and Go Abroad, which bring overseas universities together in one room, are great opportunities to learn more. Another resource that provide information about UK universities and life beyond the classroom is the Education UK website.
Wherever you end up applying, take it from Lizzie and make the most of your UK experience by getting out of the classroom: ‘It’s amazing being here – I’ve had exposure to an arts scene that wouldn’t have been possible had I stayed in Canada. I absolutely love it.’
Adapted from Education UK and an article by Kathryn Miller in Club UK magazine. www.britishcouncil.ca
Photos courtesy of VisitBritain