International Student: Why You Should Pursue Your Masters Degree in the UK
|My Masters graduation day|
When I decided to pursue a Masters degree, I wanted one that I could do in the shortest time possible, as cheaply as possible, yet with high quality. I knew I had to get a scholarship to make it possible. I searched the internet, asked questions, and shortly concluded I had to make applications to schools in the United Kingdom.
Some international graduates might be in the same shoes as I was. So in this post I would like to help you answer the question - Why come to UK for your Masters programme?
1. High quality world-class education. The UK is known for its high quality education. Just google "Top Universities in the World" and see for yourself. Degrees from the UK are highly respected by employers. Check out QS Graduate employability rankings.
2. 1 year programme. Unlike programmes in the US that require 2 years, a UK Masters degree programme is typically for 1 year. Also, being an English speaking country, I did not need to take up a foreign language class before my study as would have applied if I chose Germany or any other non-English speaking country.
3. Scholarships are available. This was key for me. Many would be put off by the humongous tuition fees associated with a Masters degree in the UK but there are scholarship opportunities. While some are sponsored by international scholarship bodies, many individual UK schools have a scholarship budget. I got a full tuition scholarship from my school.
4. 2-year post study visa. A few years ago the UK government stopped issuing 2-year post study work visas to students on a Tier 4 visa. This discouraged some international students from pursuing postgraduate studies in the UK. Thankfully, it's been brought back this year. This means that you can apply for jobs and get some work experience in the UK after your Masters programme. The experience can boost your career prospects wherever you then decide to settle.
5. Application is easy. When I looked at the application process for USA-based schools, the process just seemed tedious and long 'cause I would have to write TOEFL/IELTS as well as GRE. With UK-based schools, I only needed IELTS to apply to certain schools. The school I eventually got in to, the University of Nottingham, did not require it because my undergraduate study was done in English.
6. You can bring your family along and they can work without restrictions. Unlike the USA, where spouses/dependents of students on F1 visas are not allowed to work, the UK allows dependants/spouses of students on Tier 4 visa to take up full time work (apart from doctor or dentist-in training) or be self-employed. This goes a long way in supporting the student.
7. You can work and study at the same time. In the US, there are certain restrictions to working while you're a student on F1 visa, like only being able to work on campus, except in exceptional cases. The UK has its own restrictions - you can only work for a maximum of 20 hours per week but it does not have to be just on-campus jobs.
Most importantly studying abroad, in the UK, gave me much exposure. Exposure to a developed country, exposure to possibilities I didn't know existed. Exposure to effective systems, rule of law, order, a civil culture where customer service personnel are very polite, where there is dignity of labour, where merit is rewarded, where feedback for quality improvement is actively sought and accepted.
1. It is expensive. The UK Masters tuition fees for international students vary depending on the degree and university but could range from £5,000 to well over £40,000. My tuition for a Masters in Public Health was £21,200 (around 11.4 Million Naira at the time). Giving my salary then, I would have needed to work for 10 years while scrimping to save up that amount of money. And that excludes the cost of accommodation and living expenses. If you are able to get a sponsor or get scholarship then this becomes less of an issue.
2. It is cold. Coming from the heat of Africa, it took a while to adjust to the UK weather. Summer was great; in fact, there were heat waves at times. Fall, spring and especially winter days were cold. But then it's not as bad as Canada. I learnt to dress for comfort, or in other words, dress for the weather and not for fashion.
In conclusion, I would say it was very well worth it and I am grateful to the University of Nottingham and everyone who supported me for making it possible.
Are you considering a Masters degree in the UK? What are you most worried about? Have you studied as an international student in the UK? What was your experience? Please leave a comment below.
Radiant ~ December 2020
Read my next post on how to write a winning scholarship essay.
TOEFL - Test of English as a Foreign Language
IELTS - International English Language Test Score
GRE - Graduate Record Examination