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Higher Education

In the UK there is a huge array of options within higher education, and as such every university has it’s own vibe, it’s own nuances, and the city in which a university is located can be a huge factor in your individual university experience. The UK has some of the best higher education institutions in the world, and some of the most recognizable names in the academic world. We have the famous Cambridge and Oxford, but we equally have many fantastic institutions that specialize in certain subjects. For example The Courtauld Institute of Art only offers a BA in History of Art, and we have institutions revered worldwide for their scientific research, an example of which is Imperial College London.

Picking a university to study at in the UK can be a difficult process, as there are so many great schools offering a plethora of differing degree programmes with different experts in specialized fields all teaching at different universities. Selecting a university in the UK that you will be happy at is the most important thing, whilst Cambridge and Oxford may be two of the most famous universities in the world, they might not be for you! That’s why we have compiled a list of some of the best universities in the UK for you to browse, and given all the information we hope you can find your perfect university.

Undergraduate degrees in the UK typically last 3 years, but many universities offer 4 year courses where a year is spent abroad, or in industry. Typically, the year abroad is at a partner institution of the university you attend, and the university will help you with your allocation. If it is a year in industry, most universities offer help in finding partner organisations and businesses that take on industrial placements.

All applications to Higher Education institutions in the UK for undergraduate degrees have to be made through The Universities and Colleges Admissions Services (UCAS). UCAS is the body through which potential students have to apply for places.

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When applying to universities it is essential to bare in mind the criteria of each university, taken into account their different entrance requirements: exam grades, qualifications, work/volunteer experience, skills, extracurricular activities, admissions tests (less common), and on occasion an interview. There may also be health, financial, or criminal records checks to ensure suitability.

If you are an International/EU student applying through UCAS for an undergraduate programme, it is a common requirement that you prove your efficiency in English by taking an English language test; unless you have other qualifications that prove your proficiency, or are a fluent speaker.

If you are an International student (not UK, EEA or Swiss national) then you will require a student visa to study in the UK. If this is the case, then you may need to take an English language test that is approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI).

Many UK universities also offer a foundation year where the aim of the course is to teach you the English skills required to be successful at a UK university, but these foundation years are not applied to through UCAS. They have to be made individually to the University in question, and not every institution offers a foundation programme but sometimes the ones that do will also have a direct access route into their own undergraduate programmes (which still have to be applied to via UCAS).

Applying to UK universities through UCAS is a relatively straightforward process, but there are specific ways in which to handle your application to best improve your chances of entry. When applying for undergraduate programmes through UCAS, you are able to apply to 5 institutions. We hope our guide will give you all the information you need to find the 5 universities that you would spend 3-4 fantastic years at.

The Higher education system in the UK is recognised internationally as being among the best. With over 430,000 international students from more than 180 countries studying in the UK every year, the educational experience that the UK offers is enhanced. There is also a wide range of courses and institutions for students to choose from. For example, for undergraduate studies there are over 370 universities, which between them offer over 35,000 courses. [1]

To get the best university experience and to be able to succeed, it is important not to choose a university purely based on a “league table” ranking, because the university, which is top in a particular subject, might not be the best fit for a student.

For undergraduate degrees, the majority of applications are done through the UCAS system. This is a general application system where you have to submit a range of personal details as well as complete a ‘personal statement’. This is where a student has to explain why they have chosen to study a particular subject and describe themselves (extracurricular, hobbies and the like). For more information on the entry requirements please consult the “entry requirements” section.

For postgraduate degrees, the application process is much more diverse. Please consult the individual universities’ websites for available programmes, entry requirements and other information. One advantage of the UK system is that many masters’ programmes can be completed in just 1 year.

On another note, UCAS now allows companies to act as agents on behalf of applicants. With over 300 higher education institutions to choose from, finding the best one for your child is no easy task. Please consult LFL Education Consultancy if you would like advice on a wide range of these institutions. [2]



General requirements for higher education

If you are domiciled in the UK, you are likely to be considered a home student. However, international fees may apply if certain conditions are not met.

If you are an EEA or Swiss national, then to become a student you need to: (a) be enrolled on a course at a recognised educational provider, (b) demonstrate you can meet your living expenses, (c) be registered on a course that has started and (d) have comprehensive sickness insurance. [1]

If you are not a UK, EEA or Swiss national, then you must attain a Tier 4 General student visa. For more information on this visa please consult the “student visa” section.

If English is not your first language, then it is necessary to take a recognised test to prove that you have attained a level of English that is high enough to be able to pursue your course. Research on individual institutions needs to be carried out as the tests that are recognised vary. However, often a B/C in GCSE English, or a good score in the IELTS, PTEA, Cambridge English Scale or TOEFL is sufficient. [2]

Also, it is important to note that some universities may not recognise your countries’ diplomas as sufficient for entry. This might mean your child is required to take another set of exams or a foundation course. If the qualifications are recognised, then you must aim to attain the required grades as well as the university feeling you are a match for them.

LFL Education Consultancy can help you find the higher education, which will be best for your child, can help guide you through the visa application process and can provide concierge services to meet your individual needs. For more information please consult or “concierge services” section.