‘UK education opens doors’

Alisha Shinde
Monday, 4 February 2019

Helen Silvester, director of West India, British Council, tells students the benefits of studying in the UK

Being an educational hub Pune has a lot of education fairs in the city. British Council is back with their UK Education Fair, which is believed to be a good opportunity for aspiring students to meet a host of UK universities under one roof and find out about scholarship opportunities, as well as attend informative seminars by UK academics on popular subjects. The fair operates as an open platform for parents and students to clear doubts and queries regarding studying in the UK.

Helen Silvester, director of West India, British Council, gives us an insight on the benefits of studying in the UK and settles queries that you as a student may have. 

What are the factors to keep in mind while choosing a college in the UK? 
A UK education opens doors, wherever you go in the world. Many UK universities are world renowned for their subjects, courses, professors and tutors. There are also universities and colleges that have a very strong focus upon a specific subject area. These institutions offer specialised education in your chosen field and you will be surrounded by like-minded students — great for focussed development, future contacts as well as making friends.

There is a lot of information available to help you decide, a good place to start is Unistats — unistats.ac.uk, the official website for comparing UK higher education course data or you can also visit www.britishcouncil.in/study-uk for more information. 

About the things that you need to consider when choosing universities or colleges are: 

  • Does the university offer the right course options and flexibility for you?
  • How does it rank for student satisfaction and care?
  • What are your career prospects? What percentage of its students go straight into employment or further study after graduating?
  • What are the teaching standards like?
  • How does it perform in terms of research activity?
  • What facilities are on offer? Consider things such as libraries, lecture halls and study spaces.
  • Are there extra-curricular opportunities such as student unions, societies and sports teams?
  • Is the university based on campus or spread out over a city?
  • Where in the UK? Studying in London University will be a different experience to a smaller university in Wales that is close to the countryside.
  • What are the course fees and accommodation costs and standards like?
  • Is the institution recognised by the UK authorities as having UK degree awarding powers?

Students are often in a dilemma if the degrees and certificates that they pursue abroad are not valid back in their home country. Is this really true? 
Studying in the UK can open doors to opportunities, providing life-changing experiences that will enable one to work towards a successful career. A UK education will help students develop their critical thinking, creativity and confidence that employers look for. In addition, it will enable them to connect with people from all over the world. 

Degrees and certificates awarded by UK universities are valid and accepted across the world. In order to pursue further education in India or get a government job in India, a bridge course may be required. 

When is the best time to start preparing for higher education abroad? 
We have a September intake and January intake. For both undergraduate and post graduate courses, students usually start the process about a year ahead. All students who want to pursue an undergraduate degree will have to apply through University and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS). Through this portal, students can apply to five universities (maximum).
 
There are different UCAS application deadlines. Some universities or colleges might have earlier deadlines, so it is best for students to check directly. Depending on when the students apply to universities, the time could vary. But usually application to admission process takes 2-3 months. 
Post graduate students have to apply directly to universities. Many post graduate courses do not have a fixed application deadline, so students can apply as soon as they decide. However, it is always best to apply early to make sure that students have the best chance of being accepted. 
 
Could you state a few benefits of studying in the UK?
The UK’s higher education sector is among the best in the world and consistently performs well in world rankings. A UK education helps a graduate stand out when entering the competitive global jobs market. 

Studying in the UK is a great experience, even apart from academics. The UK’s global outlook and multicultural society will help make sure students receive a warm welcome and that they quickly feel at home. 

When students go abroad for higher education is it advisable for them to take up part-time jobs?  
This depends on the student, the intensity of the course and what kind of work experience the student gets. In general, it is good for students to work while studying as it gives them work experience, confidence and allows them to develop contacts in their field. 

The visa rules allow students to undertake an internship, placement, or work up to 20 hours a week. While rules may vary from university to university, students can explore work placements, volunteering opportunities, internships and university societies. Courses like sandwich courses have a mandatory work experience component, where the university places students to get hands-on real world experience. 

What are the best options for students looking for financial assistance? 
Studying in the UK is good value for money; it is a more affordable destination for study than both the USA and Australia. Additionally, the UK offers a host of scholarships and financial support, for aspiring students. The UK has generous offers for Indian students with over 800 scholarships available from universities, the UK government and British Council each year.

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