The UK is one of the most welcoming countries when it comes to international study and global student placements. It encourages international students to follow a course of study at one of its many universities, offering them a life-changing experience and the opportunity to sample a diverse culture. There is an endless list of positives if you choose to study abroad in the UK, with plenty of things to do and see in your free time. You'll also benefit from the opportunity to learn English on a deeper level, world-class facilities and academics, and great employability prospects. Here's why studying for a degree at a UK university is a truly life-changing experience – and how you can make the most of it.
1. Make the most of your time in the UK by getting involved in student societies and different activities
The UK is proud of its diverse and multicultural ways of living, and international students will have plenty of opportunities to get involved in different events happening in and around their place of study, and in their university's local area. As a student, you can also meet new people and expand both your professional and social network by enrolling in student societies and clubs.
At the University of Sheffield for example, students have everything they'd expect to find in a major city and more. You'll notice all the usual big city attractions and convenience stores, supermarkets, leisure centres, cinemas to choose from and high street shopping – but the city of Sheffield offers so much more than that. It's a city that's safe, affordable, creative and green. You'll find yourself setting up a home and falling in love with the place. Although it’s big, it’s also pretty easy to get around. You can walk across the city centre, from the train station to the university campus, in about 20 minutes.
The city is bursting with creativity. There's a thriving grassroots creative arts community, a multicultural population, hundreds of niche independent shops, some of the best pubs in Britain and a legendary music scene. You'll also discover more parks and woodlands than in any other UK city, as well as striking Victorian and modern architecture, a big shopping centre at Meadowhall, champion sports facilities and stylish restaurants.
If you love the outdoors, the Peak District National Park is right on your doorstep. Climbers flock to Sheffield for the excellent array of indoor climbing walls. From the Monsal Trail to picturesque reservoir loops, the nearby Peak District has tons of glorious routes to charm cyclists and walkers.
It’s also the perfect place to try something a bit different, including BMX, skateboarding, caving and rowing. This city is full of active and supportive people, keen to find new devotees for the sport they love. Letting off steam, being social and keeping active are all big boosters for our wellbeing – and with so much on offer during your studies at the University of Sheffield, you’ll find it easy to discover a sport that works for you.
As one of the greenest cities in Europe and with the Peak District National Park for a back garden, it’s no surprise that Sheffield has declared itself 'The Outdoor City'. If you’re an adventurous person, or you’ve always wanted to be, you couldn’t pick a better place to study. Ranked as the greenest city in the UK (NatWest’s Green Cities Report 2021), over 60% of the city is green space. There are even more trees than people. Choose from an impressive 250 parks, woodlands and gardens and discover a city full of adventure.
When it comes to social life, if you’re looking for great cafes, bars and nights out, then the Students' Union is a great place to start. Take your pick from a mix of live music, comedy, talks, film screenings and nights out, or just take time out in the Students’ Union building: the perfect place to meet, eat or relax.
Three on-campus venues attract DJs and bands from around the world. You'll find club nights running almost every night of the week playing pop, rock, dance, hip-hop and retro. The 400-seater Students' Union cinema screens foreign films, cult classics or box office smashes. You can watch dance and theatre performances, and stimulate your mind with live, high-profile speakers. Or just take some time to be entertained at the regular open-mic night, pub quiz or hugely popular comedy night. With nearly 70 venues in Sheffield, you’ll also be able to find gigs by local and international acts nearly every day of the week.
2. Boost your learning experience by using a professional career service offered by UK institutions
Many UK universities offer professional career services that help students follow the career path of their choosing by helping them to prepare for their professional journey. Many institutions recognise that global employers are looking for more than just a university degree. They want candidates who express enthusiasm to be the difference in their chosen field and exhibit a broad set of skills and experiences that transcend any one industry or degree course. As an international student coming to the UK, you should choose a university that offers a solid foundation of support, and helps students boost their employability skills before, during and after their studies.
This is certainly one of the keys focuses at the University of Stirling – and it’s why the university has ranked Top 5 in the UK and top 15 in the world for careers services (UK International Student Barometer (ISB) Benchmark and Global ISB Benchmark 2018). Its Careers and Employability Service works to help international students achieve their career goals – from advice on deciding a career path, to making applications and getting their first jobs.
The careers team consists of expert consultants who offer bespoke guidance based on a student’s career interests. They support students with practical skills like CV writing, application writing and interview practice., They also help students to develop their strengths and aspirations, so they can stand out to potential employers.
The University works with local, national and international organisations to raise the profile of students and help them to secure a graduate role. There are several careers fairs held on campus each year so that students can secure practical internships and get important work experience. This not only allows students to test out possible career paths before gaining a degree but also enables them to make vital business contacts and learn new skills.
After leaving Stirling, graduates are still able to utilise the service and can access resources like practice psychometric testing and video interviewing software, so they've got the tools needed to stand out to employers and secure their dream jobs.
Students and graduates also have access to the university's online vacancy and events system to allow them to search for job opportunities, find out about employer events, book careers workshops and access additional resources.
Many courses at Stirling include the opportunity to hear from visiting speakers, external experts and field-based trips. Some courses also offer students the opportunity to undertake a work placement or work-based project as part of their studies. This practical experience enables students to gain relevant experience and make industry connections while putting their theory-based learning into practice.
With the support in place, it is hardly surprising that over 95% of undergraduate leavers and 96% of postgraduate leavers are in employment or in further study fifteen months after graduation (Graduate Outcomes Survey 2020 HESA).
For students who aspire to start their own business, the Enterprise Programme offers activities and services to develop skills and grow new business ventures, including the annual Entrepreneurial Quest business idea competition. Emerging entrepreneurs also benefit from year-round access to individual business advice.
No matter what you decide to do after your degree, the University of Stirling will support you to make the most of your study experience and achieve your career goals.
3. Maximise your experience in the UK by enjoying international student support
You may be feeling nervous or even apprehensive about studying in the UK for your degree, and this is common. Rest assured though that the UK is very welcoming of international students, and puts help, advice and support networks in place for when you need them. This is one of the main benefits of studying at a UK university as an international student.
The University of Sussex for example has won the award for Student Diversity at the 2021 Global Student Satisfaction Awards. This category asked students how friendly the atmosphere at their university is for people from diverse backgrounds – including different countries, cultures, religions and so on. Sussex's ambitious internationalisation strategy seeks to be inclusive and encourage a diverse student body, and the award is a recognition of that diversity. International students get the most out of their studies and student life at Sussex, receiving a warm welcome when they arrive and support during their time at the university.
Help and advice at Sussex are available regarding transport, especially during Welcome Week in September. There are also induction events for international students, including how to open up a UK bank account. Activities are organised to help international students meet people and make new friends, and there is also year-round support to answer any questions students may have about life in the UK or studying at Sussex, as well as Visa and immigration advice.
If students want to rent privately during their time at Sussex, the university housing team offer free one-to-one advice and can help look for student houses and rooms. If you're going to rent from a private landlord, they can check through your tenancy agreement so you know what you are signing up for. You can also ask them about living in Brighton and Hove, including recycling and rubbish collection, how to avoid anti-social behaviour, and how to find accessible housing.
The student life centre is the first place to go if you need support during your time at University. Here you'll receive help with any worries or concerns you may have, such as settling in or challenges in your personal life. The student support unit can provide assistance if you have a long-term medical condition or a learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia.
The English language and academic study team at Sussex help students improve their academic English and their understanding of British academic culture. They offer free workshops, 'time to write' sessions and one-to-one tutorials throughout the academic year to students whose first language is not English.
Finally, the careers and employability centre at Sussex can help you find part-time jobs and work experience opportunities. They also manage CareerHub, a database of part-time jobs in the local area, and host various careers events and fairs throughout the year. You can book a one-to-one appointment with a careers consultant to discuss your CV, career plans and more.
There are many reasons why the UK is a great home for international students while they study at a British institution. The UK offers a diverse culture, lots of things to see and do during your studies, and a strong support network when you need it. To make the most of your study experience in the UK, join societies at your chosen university, make new friends, get involved in local events and activities, use the support networks offered to you, and enjoy the career support schemes and employment initiatives that many universities organise.
For more information, you can visit the University of Sheffield, University of Sterling and University of Sussex websites.
University of Sheffield: https://www.sheffield.ac.uk
University of Stirling: https://www.stir.ac.uk
University of Sussex: https://www.sussex.ac.uk