Aug
11
2010
Uncategorized

UK Education: A Missing Manual

Introduction

This is a quickly drafted comprehend document for those who wish to do their studies in the United Kingdom; This document is specifically written for students from India.

Decision Making

Decision Making is a hard step especially when it comes to such bigger ventures. First of all make sure you are ready for this and then decide your area of interest (Many Indian students find it difficult – But try and understand what you really like to do.). Once you decided the course, look at the rankings and other information available online to decide a few colleges where you need to apply. The information given below might be useful at this stage.

  • Use the Internet, google about the courses and universities, Eikipedia has a list of universities (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_universities_in_the_United_Kingdom)
  • Now decide which all universities you wish to apply (look at their fee structure and match with your budget, look for the ranking of the university)
  • Make sure the university you chose is good for your area of studies (some universities are best in some areas, like my university is good for marine based courses and computing)
  • If you have any doubts regarding these things, or drop me a mail (nextdoornerd AT gmail DOT com)- i may be able to help.
  • For those who are not sure of what to choose, check this link – http://www.ucas.com/students/choosingcourses/choosingcourse/chooserightcourse
  • Most of the universities have international offices to help students from other countries, they are very helpful, so contact them regarding anything related to the course or university
  • Look at the department site, most of the universities have their faculty listed there; ensure that they have good reputation and standards.
  • Find out alumnus and current students from active online communities and get their opinion about the college or university.

How to apply for a course.

There are several way to apply for a course, Apply directly to the University or College, Apply through a consultancy, or Apply through UCAS. The advantage of applying through a consultancy is they are experts in their area and the process will be easy for us. To apply directly, you need to visit the university portal and see the instruction on how to apply. You can also contact the university international office, they will help you out with the application. UCAS is an online site allows us to find a course and apply through the site to different universities. The UCAS website is very friendly and self explanatory.

  • Check if your university has any relations or agreements with the university you have chosen, if so talk to some of our officials (Only a very few Indian universities have international collaborations).
  • Through http://www.ucas.ac.uk/ you can apply to many universities in UK
  • There are also some reliable consultants. Most of these consultants have direct relationships with the Universities or colleges.

What all documents needed to apply for a UK university ?

  • Most of the uk universities require all your documents scanned and send to them in order to provide you a conditional or unconditional offer letter
  • You need your certificates (Secondary School Leaving Certificate (Matriculation/Equivalent), Higher Secondary/ Equivalent Certificate, Degree Certificates, etc)
  • Letter of reference (get plenty of copies (15-20 copies) from minimum two of your professors.
  • Statement of purpose (Click Here for a sample SOP)
  • IELTS most of the universities in UK requires IELTS, but some of them provide exceptions if you have equivalent academic scores, contact the universities international office  regarding this.

Funding Your Education

You can Either self fund your education , or you can find a sponsor to fund your education or you can get a loan for your education. It depends on your financial abilities. If you are looking for a Loan, go to different banks and enquire about their interest rates and conditions, then choose carefully. Take advice from experienced people if you know any of them. Many of the UK and European Universities offer scholarships if you have a good academic record. Contact your universities International office to get more information on the scholarships they provide and the details and requirements to achieve one.

  • If you wish to take a loan for ur education, look the interest rates of different banks and their conditions and choose an appropriate one for you
  • Getting the loan sanctioned may take some time, so apply for it as soon as possible
  • There are a lot of scholarship options available for bright students from UK universities, contact your international office regarding this; and they might help you find one.
  • Also look at http://www.scholarships.com/ for other scholarship options.

Applying For Visa

I have applied for my visa in 2009, however with the new regulations there are some changes in the Visa Application process. You need to pay a certain amount of fee to apply for a visa. Checkout the below list to have an idea of what all things you need to prepare for obtaining a Visa.

  • It was around 12500 Rs. for visa processing for me (the amount varies from time to time)
  • Your certificates and necessary funding documents, unconditional offer letter/visa letter (loan letter or bank statement or sponsor details or things like that), including the passport
  • You need to submit the originals of all the documents while applying for visa
  • You can get the Visa Application form and further details from http://www.ukvisas.gov.uk/en/aboutus/features/studyingintheuk
  • Make sure each and every document is perfect, because these days the visa processing is very strict.if they reject you will loose your money
  • Once you get your passport back, check the pages to make sure if the visa sticker is stamped on any of the pages
  • Visa processing takes around 2-4 weeks, so make sure you apply beforehand.
  • Most of our banks provide lengthy statements with un necessary legal and regulatory stuff on it; so better prepare a Bank Statement Letter and Loan Sanction Letter yourself and get it sealed.

Booking Tickets

You can book your flight tickets and other Coach or Train tickets before and save money. Plan your travel route before you reach UK, you can obtain the information regarding this from your International office. Then you can book the coach tickets from National Express Website and You can book the tube tickets from the corresponding Railway Station’s website.

  • If you book tickets in advance it will help you reduce the amount
  • Air tickets (instead of going through an agent, it’s better to buy them on your own – checkout the websites)
  • Mostly you will  be reaching the Heathrow airport in London (assuming you are coming to UK for your studies), if your university is far from London then you must travel by a coach or Train (booking them in advance through the Internet will reduce a fair amount of money)

Accommodation

One of the greatest mistake most of the students do is they don’t care about the accommodation, however arranging accommodation before you reach UK is very handy. Also mostly the University managed accommodations are extremely costly for many of the students. If you know any current students call them and enquire them to help you out with accommodation.

  • Arranging accommodation before you reach UK is necessary (if you don’t do it, you will end up paying hotels a huge amount of money)
  • There are various types of accommodations available here. University Managed and Private Accommodations, Usually University Managed ones are very expensive
  • If you know someone who is already in the place, Just contact them before you choose accomodation

Money. How much money should I carry with me ?

It is one of the important thing to take care of, carrying large amount of money is risky (UK is no exception for Thieves).

  • You don’t have to carry a lot of money with you.
  • It’s better to carry 500-800 Pounds in cash (keep it in a wallet or in a waist bag, and make sure you keep the money with you all the time)
  • Rest of the money, you can convert into traveler’s cheque (It’s safe, because even if you loose the TC, you can get the money back). Ask for sterling travelers checks, as most of the UK banks won’t charge any additional costs for exchanging them. Read more about TC here
  • You can obtain Travellers cheques from Thomas Cook or UAE Exchange branches.
  • Keep in mind that most of the Indian Banks provide global cards that are not truly global, many of them won’t work here , so it is better to keep your mind away from those ideas.
  • Another good way is to start an HSBC account in India and deposit your money in that account (Start an International HSBC account). You can even transfer your account to UK once you reach here.

Medicines and X-Ray

Carrying an X-Ray of your chest is useful and it can save you time. Also carry basic necessary medications for headache and fewer,etc.

  • Some people may advice you to take a medical insurance before you come to UK, it’s not necessary. In UK students have free National Health Service care, if our course is for more than 6 months long.
  • However you must carry basic medicines for fever, headache, throat pain or things like that (keep a doctors prescriptions with all the medicines).
  • Septilin is a good ayurvedic medicine, it’s a precautionary medicine which helps us from getting sick (a friend of mine suggested me this, he is a doctor. he asked me to take 2 pills every night); However consult a doctor before you take any medicine as the dose and even medicines may vary depending on persons.
  • Make sure you carry a Chest X-Ray of yours, because otherwise you will have to wait and take an X-Ray in the UK Airport (We carried our X-Rays and things were faster for us), some people may tell you not to carry them, but it helps.
  • If you have any existing health problems, make sure you keep your doctors note and other details including the prescriptions and medicines with you.

Keeping Passport and other documents safe.

You need to make sure your passport and other documents are safe with you; while traveling and while living the UK.

  • Make sure you keep your passport safe
  • Keep an eye on your passport while officers at airport takes it from you to check (I heard some incidents where these officials tear apart the visa page and things like that)
  • Scan your passport and keep a copy in your mail, even if you loose it, it might help you.
  • Take 3 copies of all your certificates and documents and leave one with your family at home and place one inside the luggage bag and keep one with you in the hand bag along with originals.
  • Make sure you carry your passport size photographs (20 or more, you will find them useful at times).
  • Once you reach your accommodation place, you can keep your original certificates and passports in shelf where you can keep them locked (if you don’t have a secure place, better keep them in a bank locker)
  • Make sure you have your unconditional offer letter and other necessary documents with you. (It’s better to keep a scanned copy in your e-mail)
  • Once you reach UK, you can keep them in a bank locker if you don’t have a safer environment to keep them safe in your place.

Packing up for travelling

You can usually carry around 30 kg or more in luggage and 7 kg + Laptop by hand (depends on airlines, check with them and make sure how much you can carry)

Dress materials

  • Make sure you have a nice Jacket and enough warm clothes (You don’t have to buy a lot of them, you can get better stuff for cheaper rates here, but make sure you have a good one to survive the first few weeks)
  • Make sure you buy a pair of gloves, a monkey cap/any-kind-of-cap which can help you protect your head from freezing :)
  • A good pair of shoes (go for branded ones like puma,fila or something like that) and woolen socks
  • You don’t have to buy a lot of dress materials from there, you can actually get better clothes from here (don’t worry the rates are fair here)
  • If you intend to buy dress materials like jeans or T-Shirt, make sure you buy the branded ones (Pepe,Lee,Wrangler,Levis)
  • Girls – you don’t have to bring all your churidars and things like that.. it’s not India
  • Make sure you buy enough thermals (thermals are inner wears helps us stay warm,if you still don’t know what they are check this site : http://www.britishthermals.com/)
  • You can bring an Umbrella , because we are never short of rain here. Make sure your umbrella is powerful enough to stand slight snow falls and heavy wind, I brought a poppy strong big umbrella – our umbrellas are stronger than what we can buy from here.
  • You can bring a pair of slippers/sandals – so that you can use them in the home

Cookery Items, Edibles and Pickles

  • Bring as much curry masalas as you can, they are very expensive here (bringing necessary items will help you reduce your initial expense)
  • It’s better to carry a 3 ltr pressure cooker, One non stick pan, some other cookery items,spoons and Knives (make sure that you don’t carry them in hand; but you can carry them in luggage).
  • Pack your pickles and stuff in polythene bags (wrap them perfectly and make sure that they are in a separate bag so that your clothes won’t come in contact with them anyway)
  • Packing pickles  in cans are not allowed by some airlines and authorities so packing them in polythene bags is necessary.
  • Bringing oil is not necessary – they will freeze – and you won’t be able to use them properly.
  • You don’t have to bring plates and glasses, you can get oven friendly stuff here
  • It would be nice, if you can carry a nice small flask (let it be portable,you can keep hot water to drink while travelling).

Carrying Text Books

Books are very costly here, however you will have plenty of books in the library. However you can carry books in your luggage. Mail your department professors or International office to obtain the titles of the books you might be using for the course.

  • If you like to learn with your personal copies of books, make sure you bring them, because we can get low price editions only in India
  • Don’t carry all the unnecessary books with you
  • The libraries in the UK universities are very very good; so most probably you will get more than enough resources from here; including books, journals, online resource access, etc (new amendment)

Carrying Laptop, Mobile Phone & Other electronic devices (IMPORTANT)

  • Usually no one checks the laptops (it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will never check) and it’s free of charge to carry with (make sure you carry it by hand)
  • If you already have a Latop that you bought from India then make sure you carry a conversion code or conversion adapter; other wise you won’t be able to use your Indian charger here. The conversion code/conversion adapter is usually 30-50 Rs in India which costs about 10-20 Pounds here.
  • Same with the case of your other electronic equipments, unlike our round plugs, here in Uk they use Square ones.
  • Click here to see the images of the UK adapter and a conversion adapter.
  • If you are planning to buy a new mobile before coming to UK, better buy it from UK, because here there are two types of connections (Contract Mobiles and Pay as you go), contract mobiles are usually better and most of them comes with a mobile+sim package. So it is better to buy here if you have any such plans

First Time Traveller

If you are travelling for the first time please note down the below things.

  • You can request for a window side seat to the airlines or your travel agents.
  • Enquire about frequent flier options with your agent
  • Also you can specify what type of food you require while travelling before you board the plain (Talk to your Agent regarding this)
  • Just enjoy the Journey and remember, you are going to some other country. So you represent India there. Keep that in mind always.

Other Useful Links

[Document Compiled by Dharan P Deepak & Dharan P Darsana]






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About the Author: Deepak Dharan Padmini

Passionate Geek specialized in Information Security and Web Technologies who spends his weekends building and testing mini robots..

2 Comments + Add Comment

  • Basically i am a farmer, live in a remote place(village) in tamilnadu. I am the only person who have got internet in my village.And I knew nothing about abroard education but your above given article was more informative. I learnt lot of new information from this article. i am really thankful to the person who have posted this article. I am planning to do my master in United kingdom…cheers

    • Pal. I think I know who you are.. ;) Anyway good to know that it’s useful for someone.

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