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British basics

A growing number of Indian students, over 20,000 at the last count, see the UK as a dream destination for higher education.

india Updated: Dec 10, 2006 23:32 IST

The country’s USP
While the Old Blighty is rated among the best for its high quality academic programmes, to foreign-degree aspirants, the UK appears to be relatively cheaper than the US due to the shorter duration of its undergraduate (three-year) and postgraduate (one-year) programmes.

Interestingly, it takes four years to graduate in the US. So, students opting for UG courses in UK universities can save a year's cost. Moreover, Britain has introduced various work schemes for international students.

Michael Arthur, British High Commissioner

 "The UK has been one of the top choices for international education. Our high standards of education and flexibility of courses are acknowledged across the world. Indian students comprise one of the largest groups of overseas students in British universities.

We really value them -- for their commitment to studies and for the international dimensions they bring to faculty discussions.

The British Government has recently announced a major programme of about £15 million over the next three-five years to strengthen links between top academic research institutions in Britain and India.

We are looking at cross-border relationships where academics from each country collaborate on research programmes.

In addition, more scholarships are in the pipeline for students aspiring to study in Britain; at present there are about 700 scholarships a year.

We have also made it easier for students to work part-time during their period of study, so that it is now becoming feasible to work your way through college in the UK.

Therefore I encourage all potential students here to come and look at what Britain offers -- visit us online at"

Hot for what?

The most sought-after programmes are in Business Management, Marketing, Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology.

Top institutes
According to government-mandated teaching and research assessment exercises, universities are rated discipline-wise. As for the rankings brought out by newspapers, those are based on different parameters and are not officially endorsed.

Suffice it to say, that though Oxford and Cambridge remain on top, overall, some less-known universities, too, bag “excellent” grades especially in the newer subjects.

Here's the low-down on the admission procedure and more
Commencement of session: The academic year starts in September.

When to apply: Start your groundwork in September for entry to next year’s session.

How to apply: Aspirants can apply online for admission to up to six undergraduate degree programmes through a single form of the Universities and Colleges Admission Service (, UK, mid-September onwards. For PG programmes, apply directly to your selected university. UCAS charges £5 as application fee for one programme and £15 for up to six.

Deadline: For undergraduate programmes, the application deadline is January 15, and for postgraduate courses, “anytime but well in time for the September intake.” There is a second deadline also but don’t wait till then in order to avoid the rush. However, the last date for entry to Oxford, Cambridge and for Medicine, Dentistry and Veterinary Science is October 15 every year.

Application processing time: “Applicants can check the status of their applications on the (UCAS) website. UCAS will send the applicant a personal ID/application number within 24 hours of receiving the application,” says Ruchika Castelino, Head, Education Promotion-India, British Council. “UK institutions may make conditional offers between January and June. All (admission) conditions must be met by August 31.”

Application docket: There is no need to submit any document while applying (as the UCAS system is online). Universities make conditional admission offers, which are confirmed once candidates fulfil the minimum IELTS score and Class XII marks requirements. Only then do pupils need to submit requisite proofs like transcripts.

Reference letter, personal statement: Request your school/college principal, class teacher or subject tutor, who knows your academic and extra-curricular performance, to write a recommendation letter for you.

Write a personal statement giving reasons for selecting the programme and the UK, and how it suits your academic interests or career goals. Also talk about your hobbies, participation in a summer school or any internship.

Tuition fees: It’s £8,000 a year for undergraduate arts or business programmes and £9,000 for postgraduate study. Undergraduate science degrees cost £10,400 a year and Masters, PG certificates or diplomas and doctorates cost £10,500. Fee for an MBA programme is £13,000 or more.

Accommodation: Many institutions provide on-campus accommodation to students, at least in the first year. Private housing may be available on rent for £250-500 (typical UK price, in 2004) a month.

Cost of living: The average cost of living (apart from your fees) comes to roughly £800 a month or £7,500 for a nine-month academic year in London. For the rest of the UK, it is £600 a month or £5,500 in total. The amount covers expenditure on housing, food, heating, lighting, books, daily conveyance and clothes.

Scholarships: Major foreign student scholarships include the Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, the DFID Shared Scholarship Scheme, British Chevening Scholarships and the Overseas Research Students Awards Scheme. According to Castelino, the Undergraduate and Vocational Scholarship Scheme may be extended again. “However, more details will be available at a later date.”

Part-time jobs: For some extra pocket money, students may work for up to 20 hours a week during sessions and full-time in holidays. Work spots include libraries, eateries and students’ union outlets, to name a few. Depending on the type of the job, pupils can earn £4 to £16 an hour.

Student visa: Your visa application needs to be made through a Visa Facilitation Service (VFS) office or online at
There are 11 VFS offices across as many cities in India. For details on student visas, log on to,

Job opportunities: Says Castelino, “There is a new one-year work scheme for postgraduates. An extension of the Science and Engineering Graduate Scheme has been announced to include all postgraduate courses. This means that international students, pursuing a postgraduate programme in the UK, will be able to stay back to work for a year in Britain.” For details, browse through

First Published: Nov 06, 2006 17:06 IST