Studying abroad can be a rewarding and extremely fun experience. You can learn a new language, experience a culture different from your own, and explore a whole new world.
If you’ve chosen to study abroad in the UK, that’s great. The country has a lot to offer in terms of history, world-class cities, and natural beauty. The location gives you easy access to other European countries by train and plane, so you can explore the world during your time off from studying.
However, it isn’t all about traveling around your host country and seeing the sights. Wherever your study abroad program is located is where you’ll spend most of your time living, going out after school, studying, or working.
Depending on what you wish to experience, choosing the right program can be tricky.
How to Choose a Study Abroad Program in the UK
Sure, you’ve decided to study abroad in the UK, but the United Kingdom is big. The UK is made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
These four regions offer different feels in terms of lifestyle and culture. To narrow down your options, there are a few things you should be asking yourself.
Is your course of study available?
We should first say that the obvious way to narrow down your choices would be to see what study abroad programs offer something relevant to your course of study. If you’re studying astronomy, for example, then you may want to pick a program with access to an observatory.
Ask yourself what you want academically that you may not be able to get on your home campus, and then make a list of UK colleges that have that.
Of course, also make sure that whichever program you pick is approved by your institution, you want your credits to transfer.
What Lifestyle Are You Looking For?
Since you are likely choosing to study abroad for the cultural experience, you should decide what you want that to look like.
A lot of people think of major UK cities like London or Liverpool when they think about England. But, just like at home, there are a lot of options out there.
You can choose a program that’s near London, like Wroxton College. If you’re already from a city, it can be nice to have the option to experience the big city restaurants and nightlife on the weekends but have the small-town English countryside as your academic home.
Maybe it’s not about London specifically, but the easy access it offers by train to other parts of the UK and Europe. For example, you can take the train to Paris on the weekend. This is more difficult if you study in a Northern Ireland location.
And remember, the UK is made of different countries. A city like Edinburgh in Scotland has great universities and offers its own experiences in Scottish culture and activities.
How Hands-On Do You Want Your Program to Be?
You should think about for any study abroad program is how involved you want program organizers to be.
Some colleges and universities will offer special programs to study abroad students that treat them as a subset of the student population. They may organize special activities and even weekend excursions for their study abroad students (these will either cost extra or be included in the cost, making them pricier than other programs).
This can be excellent if you’re nervous about traveling alone or haven’t traveled much before. It also forces you to interact with other students in the program, which can help you make friends more easily.
The negative aspect is that it breaks your immersion somewhat. You can choose to enroll for a semester at your study abroad program of choice and be treated just like any other student. You’ll study and attend class with no interference from the university. This can be ideal if you want to experience everyday life, but it can also make connecting with new people more difficult.
It’s a lot to think about, but one of these probably sounds better to you. Go with your gut on what you think would be most beneficial to you.
How Long Do You want to be Abroad?
Some programs are only available as summer semester, one semester, or full-year offerings. To help make your final decision, you should consider how long you want to be away from home.
If you’re unsure, let’s go over some pros and cons about short vs. long programs.
Short programs, like a summer semester, will likely be cheaper than attending a full year of university. They tend to pack a lot of activities into these since you have limited time. This makes for an exciting whirlwind experience.
Just like with any summer semester course, the actual academics are compressed. Your coursework can seem more difficult without the full semester to go over topics.
You will also have less time to explore and immerse yourself in the UK. This can make these programs feel like a long-term vacation rather than a truly new cultural experience. It is also more difficult to make friends and explore the country within a limited time.
A long-term program will cost more. You will need a permanent housing solution and be paying full tuition costs. However, you will truly be living in the UK, just like any other university student.
You will be able to complete regular coursework and have the time to make long-lasting connections and see more of the world. Whether you do this for a full semester or a full year is also difficult to decide.
With time to breathe, the full year means you can have completely normal days or weekends. You don’t need to pack everything into one semester, and you’ll truly live in your new country.
It’s a big decision to make. This is a long time to be away from your regular home. You should be honest with yourself about what you want to get out of a study abroad experience like study, travel, and immersion (and if you have the finances or financial aid) before finalizing your choice.
Popular UK Study Abroad Programs
If you’ve considered the questions above, you should have narrowed down your choices to programs you find really interesting.
Begin your research by reading reviews and interviews from past participants in programs that you’re thinking about. To give you a jumping-off point, we’re going to list some popular UK study abroad programs.
The University of Sussex is one of the United Kingdom’s top universities and a world-renowned higher-education institution, consistently ranked among the best universities worldwide and in the UK top 20.
Only one hour from central London and 30 minutes from London Gatwick international airport, Brighton is a sunny seaside city on the South Coast of England, famous for its festival and arts scene.
They offer single-semester and year-long study abroad options.
IFSA’s program at the University of Oxford is an exciting opportunity to study at one of the world’s most prestigious universities! You will be a Visiting Student at a specific college and will focus your studies on your major and minor subjects
This is an American-owned college campus in England, as such, it has its own unique benefits. Since 1965, FDU’s campus in Oxfordshire, England, Wroxton College, has offered carefully designed, integrated study abroad experiences for highly motivated individuals.
Students live and study in the 17th-century Jacobean mansion known as Wroxton Abbey. Courses are taught by the lecture, seminar, and tutorial methods employed in British universities.
The CAPA London program is in their own center, inside two connected Victorian townhouses, located in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
For 45 years, CAPA: The Global Education Network has worked with institutions of higher education to build programs that meet their goals for learning abroad. They operate education centers in Global Cities and have developed distinct academic offerings, support frameworks, and oversight structures for both students and visiting faculty.
Arcadia is a program provider offering 92 abroad programs. Programs offered include Study Abroad, Internship, Volunteer, Intensive Language, and Research abroad programs.
Edinburgh is one of Arcadia’s top study abroad destinations. The city itself is absolutely beautiful, and this world-class research university is nestled into the city itself, creating a student-centric environment that is both scholarly and fun.
Edinburgh is centrally located in Scotland and well-connected to everywhere else you could possibly want to go in the UK.
Before You Go
There’s a lot to think about. When creating your initial list of options, remember to consider lifestyle, cost of living (this will vary by location), culture, and tuition costs. This will help you greatly narrow down where to study in the UK.
The answers to these questions should be the same whether you’re applying through a program provider or directly to a University that’s caught your eye.
Don’t stress about making the perfect choice. Enter your study abroad experience with an open mind, and you’ll have a truly rewarding time.