Now that most kids across India are done with their board exams, one might like to imagine that this is the time to relax, have fun and maybe, go on a long trip. If only that was the case.
Summer may be an easy time for most but for those who are considering getting admission abroad, it’s just the beginning.
Whether you’re done with your 12th Boards or your undergraduate degree, the admission process to a foreign university in the UK is a tricky one.
So, here goes. My tips and ideas on how to successfully find a place at a reputed university in the UK.
Clarity On What and Where You Want To Study
Be certain of what you want to study and where you want to. Studying in the UK is a great opportunity, with an exposure to not only quality teaching and research experience but, to a diverse crowdset of friends and colleagues one may not find in India.
However, a degree from the UK doesn’t guarantee anything for the future. ‘Study In The UK’ may sound an exciting prospect but, it involves a lot of hard work, sleepless hours and a bit of luck.
Be certain about which course you wish to pursue and even after you do, make sure the University you’re applying to has a reputable programme and a quality, supportive department heading it. DO NOT BE SWAYED BY THE LURE OF A FOREIGN EDUCATION.
Make sure it’s a good, legit programme at a good university, offering opportunities you won’t get here in India. Do not be lured by a Human Development & Mechanics degree offered by say, Bishop Grosseteste University or many of those shady colleges in London.
Unless of course you want your face on UK Border Force.
Keep Ready Everything You Need For A Tricky Admission Process
Getting admitted to a University in the UK is a tricky business. It involves dozens of application forms to fill up and dozens more of other documents that may need to be submitted, very unlike the usual admission process here in India.
Long-term planning is key here. If you plan to begin your study from the Michaelmas term (September-October), it’s important that you begin collating documents including mark-sheets, bank statements, bonafide certificates, IELTS/TOEFL certificate etc. from October the previous year itself.
Apply early and if you have good qualifications, you may be lucky to get an offer letter for a postgraduate degree by December or January itself, conditional on your final percentage making the cutoffs.
Undergraduate admissions on the other hand, are largely through UCAS, a point-based system that has a lot of different criteria such as expected grade levels, average grade levels in the past etc. An offer from a good university generally has a cutoff of around 90%.
It must be noted however, that the UCAS system usually closes earlier than the postgraduate application system.
So, do get your UCAS form filled by January or so and, update it as soon as you get your Boards results.
Foreign Education Is An Expensive Affair
No way around it. On an average, tuition fees for non-European nationals hovers between £14,500 – £16,000 (Average for London-based universities is between £18,000-20,000) plus another £5000 as living expenses.
That is a whole lot of money when converted to rupees.
If you’re really keen on getting a foreign education, make sure you do your best to find aid and scholarships.
These may cover either your tuition expenses or living expenses or both and may either be full or partial.
Consider applying to not only the many scholarship schemes your college or Uni may be providing but, consider private, independent organizations offering scholarships too.
Scholarships such as Rhodes, Chevening and Gates India may be as useful as those offered by say, Adita Birla or Inlaks.
It must be noted that like admissions, scholarship application process is a rigorous and tough one too. Individuals with a well-rounded application, excelling not only on the academic front but, also on the extra-curricular front are more likely to be awarded the same.
A few other pointers,
- Cover letters are important. Make them personalized and make sure you address what motivates you to apply for the course you want to pursue and what you want to make of it. Universities in the UK actually do read the cover letter and some do give them more weight than marks themselves.
- Reference letters are equally important. DO NOT GET A REFERENCE FROM YOUR MOTHER WITH SENTENCES LIKE AMIT IS A LOVING, CARING BOY. That ain’t gonna work. Make sure your referees are either professional or academic and are all addressed on official letterheads. Also, it’s bonus points if your referee is well-placed at a huge firm or in the government. So, if you are from Ghaziabad or Noida and have threatened people with the usual ‘Chacha Vidhayak Hai’ routine, this is where you make use of it.
- The visa process is a long, drawn out process too. More so than the admission process itself. I wouldn’t suggest you take help for the admission process but, please do for the visa process. The visa people are suckers for propriety and have a reputation for rejecting applications over the minutest of details.
- Do not disregard Universities you haven’t heard of in films and television or located away from major cities. Universities such as Durham, St. Andrews, Warwick and Kent are much better than LSE and UCL these days and almost as good as Oxford and Cambridge with respect to certain programmes.
That’s my take on how to get into a University in the UK. It may not prove useful for anyone wanting to study in the UK this year but, for anyone planning ahead for Michaelmas 2019, this should do. Good luck, and May The Force Be With You all.
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