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10 Frequently Asked Questions About Student Life in the UK

10 Frequently Asked Questions About Student Life in the UK main image

It's perfectly natural to have many questions troubling you when you're about to move halfway across the world to pursue your dreams. To help you prepare for student life in the UK, here is a list of frequently asked questions, with answers!

1. Do students tend to work part-time during their studies?

Yes. Many students at universities in the UK have part-time student jobs, typically in hospitality, academic tutoring or for their student union. If you are international, there may be restrictions on the total number of hours you are allowed to work. There should be a sticker in your passport indicating the exact number (usually 10 or 20 hours). Your university may also provide guidelines about the maximum number of hours you should work, in order to ensure you have sufficient time to dedicate to studies.

2. What are the living costs while studying in the UK?

According to Numbeo, the average cost of living in the UK is 5.44% cheaper than in the US, while rent is 20.97% cheaper than in the US. The exact amount will vary depending on exactly where you study in the UK. According to the National Union of Students, the average living costs of studying in the UK in London are about £13,400 (~US$21,800), compared to £12,100 for the rest of England (~US$15,200). Average costs of living in Wales for students, according to the University of Cardiff, total about £7,300 (US$ 9,200), while the University of Edinburgh estimates the figure for Scotland to be about £15,400 (US$19,400). Queen's University Belfast estimates the costs of studying in Northern Ireland at £10,200 (US$12,800). You can read more about the cost of study in the UK here

3. What are UK student halls like?

Finding student accommodation from abroad before you arrive can feel like a shot in the dark. To help you, many universities in the UK have their own student halls on campus reserved for first-year students. These halls tend to provide good value for money, with easy access to all the facilities you need, and opportunities to mix with other students. Some halls even offer en-suite bathrooms and/or single-sex shared flats, though at higher rates. Private halls of residence, run by independent companies, offer similar accommodation for students unable to secure space in their university's own halls.

4. Will I get homework like in high school?

Yes, absolutely. You'll be assigned coursework and projects, but unlike high school, no one will be there to hold your hand or tell you off if you fail to submit your homework in time. One of the biggest challenges of university life is finding the rigor and self-motivation to meet deadlines – very difficult when you are constantly being bombarded with distractions.

5. Will I get language support if I'm still working on improving my English?

Yes. It's usually possible to get a place on a course if you're still looking to improve your language skills, after meeting the university's minimum English requirements. Your university should have a language support facility to help you improve your writing, speaking and listening skills. There may also be opportunities to work on other languages you'd like to learn.

6. What happens during Freshers' Week?

In the UK, the term 'fresher' refers to a new undergraduate student. Freshers' Week is held at the start of the year to welcome the new intake of e students. It involves mixers, fairs, gigs, comedy nights, and all kinds of activities across the campus. To prepare, read about seven things that will definitely happen in Freshers' Week here.

7. What if I fail an exam or year?

If you fail a year, you may get a chance to re-sit your exams, though your marks may be capped at 40% (that is, a third-class degree). If you fail again, you would typically have to retake the entire year, drop out or consider switching to a new subject. Failing individual coursework assignments would probably do no more than hurt your grade average, though in some cases you may be allowed to resubmit. Keep in mind that whatever happens, you should be able to receive counselling and study tips from a student advisor.

8. How many hours of class time a week should I expect?

Most full-time undergraduate courses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland are split across a period of three years (four, if you plan on doing a foundation degree). In Scotland, the norm is four years. You could expect between 15 and 25 hours of class-time a week, though the exact number will vary a lot depending on your subject and institution.

9. Will I get support for my disability or dyslexia?

Yes. British universities provide support for students with disabilities, such as adapted accommodation, professional care staff and learning support coordinators trained to help you get the most out of your degree. Universities in the UK also provide material in Braille and other formats, in addition to allowing students with a disability extra time to complete their coursework and exams.

10. Does it actually rain every day?

British weather tends to be varied and unpredictable. While it does tend to rain quite heavily in the UK, especially between the months of September and May, there tends to be some sunshine at least once a day! The weather will vary a lot depending on where you're based – in general, the south tends to be milder, and the west coast tends to get most rain. As to British summers, well, they can be pretty great. While they last. Hold onto those sunny memories to keep you going through January!

Got another question about studying in the UK? Leave a comment below!

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Elise M, Claire A & 34 others saved this
Written by Mathilde Frot
I'm originally French but I grew up in Casablanca, Kuala Lumpur and Geneva. When I'm not writing for QS, you'll usually find me sipping espresso(s) with a good paperback.

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1 Comment

Love the article Mathilde! If I may add, I think that questions about the admission process in the UK are quite common as well. Different requirements, steps, financial aid, etc. I came across this post about how get into Cambridge University university with all the stats, work you need to do, tuition details, courses. Could be a good addition to the discussion.
Once again, good work. :)