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Planning to study in the UK?
Raj Lalwani
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July 28, 2006

For those interested in studying abroad, the UK has always been a popular destination. One of the reasons for that popularity is that a UK degree takes three years and a postgraduate Masters degree a year to obtain, as compared to four and two years respectively in most other countries.

The courses are a year shorter and, hence, more intensive. This helps you save on tuition and living costs, enabling you to begin working a year earlier. A year of education saved, if the quality remains the same, is eventually a year of income gained.

Secondly, a UK qualification is recognised the world over. Not only will you get a firm base in the subject of your choice, the recognition your qualification demands will ensure you will be able to get a job of your choice.

Thirdly, the restrictions on studying aren't as stringent as they are in many other countries. For instance, getting a UK visa is much simpler than, say, a US visa. Moreover, the variety of courses is greater than in most other countries. Whether you want to study engineering or something like computer games programming -- the United Kingdom offers it. Finally, it has a cosmopolitan culture and is inhabited by people belonging to a variety of nationalities. Indians, in particular, reside there in large numbers.

At a recent session conducted by the British Council, we picked up useful tips on how one can start one's student life in England [Images] on the right foot.

Moving to the UK

So, you have secured admission in the institution of your choice and have also got a visa. What next? There are a few things to take into consideration.

For one, getting accommodation may take time. You may have to see a number of places before zeroing in on one. Hence, it is advisable to go to the UK a few weeks before your course begins. Then, the English weather can be biting cold. It also rains almost throughout the year, so keep that in mind while packing.

Once there

Opening a bank account may take two to three weeks, so take some cash along. In order to open your bank account, you will need:
. Your passport
. Letter of offer from your institution
. Proof of accommodation
. Your address in the UK
. A reference from a local bank, i.e. a bank in India where you have an account

Most institutions have branches of major banks and ATMs on campus. Also, for convenience, carry a �1 coin with you as luggage trolleys at the airport will require you to insert one. Later, you can transfer money via international money orders, electric or telegraphic transfers.

If you go to the UK for a period of more than six months, health care is free. National Health Service (NHS) is the publicly funded healthcare system under which you will have to register with a GP to avail of free health care. Registering with a GP is important because, unlike in India, all medication in the UK is sold only on prescription -- even medicines like Paracetamol (Crocin) that are easily available over-the-counter in India. It is advisable to get a dental check-up before you leave as it is not covered under the service and can prove to be expensive. Also, if you wear glasses, take an extra pair along.

A new life

Set realistic expectations. Give yourself time to adjust. It is impossible that you will not miss home at all, but, as time passes, you will start enjoying your life in the UK.

Every student is advocated a personal tutor, whom you can contact for both academic and non-academic counselling. Be vocal about your problems, academic or otherwise.

The best part of studying in a foreign country is the networking with people of different nationalities. Keep yourself busy by joining clubs, societies, Students' Unions, etc.

Working part-time

If you want to, please note -- if your academic performance is affected because of your job, it will be looked upon very seriously. If you think you can juggle both work and studies, you can work part-time, but not for more than 20 hours a week.

The choice of work you may take is open, and upon you. It can be on or off campus, and the payment is hourly. Note that your income will be much lesser than your expenditure though.

Undergraduates get two to three months of vacation. They can even work full-time during that period. Post-graduate students, however, do not get long vacations.

Studying in the UK provides a vast number of opportunities to students. The fact that the culture and ethos is, in many ways, similar to India, makes it simpler for students to adjust. Why not give it a shot?

Are you currently studying in the UK? Or have you studied there before? Share your experiences

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