When you choose to study in the UK, you gain access to some of the world’s best teaching and some of the best academic research facilities too, with many British university lecturers also appearing as leading voices in their subject’s academic journals.
For many international students when deciding where to study abroad, the UK’s cultural background is a big factor too. English is a widely spoken language worldwide, and you may have already learned it to a high standard at school, making it easier to communicate once you are in the UK.
You may also want to experience British culture from within the UK – whether that means going to see a Premiership football match, a live music concert or festival, stage plays at the theatre, or even just trying some traditional British food and drink at the local pub.
How to fit in as an international student in the UK
Most people in the UK, and certainly most UK students, are very welcoming to visitors from other countries so don’t be afraid to talk to the people you meet.
If you get a job to help pay for your international studies, this might also be a way to meet people outside of your university course, including other international students from your own countries and all over the world. One thing you can do that will help you to enjoy your time in the UK is to improve your English, and especially your ability to understand spoken English in local accents and dialects.
Did you know? Research by the British Council found that English language skills are the main factor that makes people in the UK trust someone, so even if you speak English well, this is something to think about when you decide to study abroad in the UK.
The UK language
Most international students already have a good level of written and spoken English, as it is taught as a second language in most of the main countries where international students come to study in the UK. The UK has some of the top universities in the world, but the best universities in the UK are not all in one place.
Some of the very best universities in the UK can be found in the south of the country for example, Oxford and Cambridge, both of which are ranked among the top universities in the world. But you will need to travel to the north of the country to cities like Manchester, Sheffield and Leeds to find some of the UK universities with the most international students.
Different regions, different accents
If you are interested in studying at a university in the north of England, it is worth listening to the local accent and making sure you can understand it. For example, if you plan to study abroad in Manchester in the north-west of the country, listen to people like Christopher Eccleston, the ninth Doctor Who, or Liam and Noel Gallagher from the 90s rock band Oasis.
Local accents can be very different from the ‘British’ accent you see in movies, which is mostly based on the south-east of the country and London. But you can always ask people to repeat any words you don’t understand, or to talk more slowly if you do not understand their accent – and you may find some people do this even without you asking them to.
Support from universities
Remember that most UK universities may offer extra support for international students if you need some help with your language skills.
NCUK’s English for Academic Purposes modules help too by teaching you how to write in a way that is suitable for your international studies. This has helped 90% of our students into their first choice of UK university, with 80% going on to achieve a first or second-class degree.
Our student services team is also here to help you during your studies with NCUK, and you will find the best universities in the UK offer similar support too, helping you to achieve an overall grade in your international studies that are not held down by language problems, but fairly reflects your academic ability.