I have lived in the UK my whole life and have been a university student here for the past two years at the University of Stirling, Scotland. During this time, I have lived and studied away from home and fully immersed myself into the culture that you would call ‘student life’. Of course, student life will vary from place to place but I think there are a few basics that can be applied to all British universities. Personally, I really enjoy all aspects of my life at university here in the UK and I would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone.
First – the technicalities. In Scotland, the length of an ordinary honours degree is four years, and in England, it is three. Three year honours degrees are also common in other parts of the UK, in Wales and Northern Ireland. There is the option to do a normal degree without honours for a three year period in Scotland, however the four year honours option is more common.
Also, it is likely that if you are coming from abroad to study in the UK you will have to pay. However, if you have lived in Scotland for a certain amount of years before applying, you will not have to pay anything in tuition fees. There are also other discounts available if you live in the EU as the university will cover up to 50% of your tuition fees. Of course, there is always the option to apply for a scholarship or have a company sponsor you throughout your degree.
Next – a day in the life of a typical UK university. A week’s timetable will include a mixture of lectures and seminars (also called tutorials). For each semester, you will be required to pick a pre-set amount of modules (classes) – anything from 2 to 10 depending on how intensive they are. When picking modules, there will be a few that are compulsory in relation to your degree but often students get some freedom in choosing what additional subjects they would like to take. Also, unlike other university systems in Europe, you are not required to pick up a language class unless it is essential to your degree.
Now, we move on to halls (university accommodation). It is advised by all universities that for your first year you move into halls. That way you can meet new people, make friends and learn how everything works. University halls are hugely varied in size, design and how many people you are sharing with. Personally, in my first year I lived in a corridor with fifteen people and we all shared a kitchen, which I loved because I got to meet so many people. Living in halls is such a great experience – everyone is in the same situation, all finding their feet and trying to make friends and also it is great for your social life, all the best parties happen in halls!
Another huge aspect of student life in the UK is going out on weekdays. Often bars and nightclubs will have student nights in the middle of the week with low entry and drink prices. For example, at my university Tuesdays and Thursdays are the big nights out of the week. Of course the aim is still to make your lectures the next day, but it is a great tradition that means you don’t have to wait until the weekend to go out and have fun with your friends.
Finally, a huge aspect of British student life are university societies and sports teams. Often many universities will have funny societies such as ‘the chocolate appreciation club’ that you can join, meet new friends and sit around joking with each other. There are also more serious societies such as the business club which are beneficial towards your degree. Sports clubs are very good to join to make friends and have a bit of light competition. For example, I joined the Cheerleading sports club for some fun and it really is a great way to meet new people.
While coming abroad to the UK to study for a degree is great for the CV, it will also be a great personal experience. Along with student culture comes a great social aspect where you have the opportunity to meet new people all the time and develop a wide circle of friends. British universities are a great culture to immerse yourself in, having done it myself I would highly recommend it.