Leading UK colleges for Asian studentsBy Asian Correspondent Feb 21, 2012 10:54PM UTC
International interest in a UK education is still thriving. This month’s Education UK Exhibition 2012, hosted by the British Council’s India division has proved a major success with thousands of students and professionals attending the fair.
Held in several Indian cities, representatives from over 50 institutes attended the event. The response was overwhelming, dispelling any doubts about the popularity of a UK higher education among prospective international students.
Suchita Gokarn, Head of Education UK Partnerships at British Council India told Asian Correspondent: “At the recently concluded Education UK Exhibition held across 4 Indian cities, the footfall has increased indicating that there is growing interest in the market for studying in the UK. We had an Indian bank representation at the event who was giving out information about student loans to all the visitors.”
Suchita added that the controversial scrapping of the Post Study Work Visa has not affected the popularity of the UK as a study destination. At a time when university applications from within the UK have dropped by 8.7%, following fee hikes of up to £9,000 per year in English universities, applications from outside Europe, especially those from Southeast Asia, continue to rise – up 13.7% on last year – according to data released by admissions organisation UCAS.
Reports also show that UK colleges are increasingly becoming a popular option among international students. Asian students, in particular, are realising the importance of a college education – these institutes offer industry-specific training and have courses geared towards employability. They also provide an introduction to the UK education system for international students. Colleges are the perfect place to hone language skills and adapt to a new culture, before applying for programmes at UK universities. With high-quality teaching and small class sizes, these institutes provide a supportive learning environment that is ideal for students who are adapting to a foreign academic and social experience. Studying at colleges is regarded as the first step to securing a spot on a university degree, with students being exclusively prepared to excel in their fields.
Low tuition fees and lenient admission requirements have increased the popularity of colleges among international students. This is the perfect training ground for students who might be suitably qualified but lack the required English language skills for university admission. Colleges also boast collaborations and partnerships that provide their students with the opportunity for work experience and gain on-the-job training. College graduates are skilled individuals with the option to seek further education or employment.
This year’s Education UK Exhibition revealed that popular study-abroad subjects for Indian students are Business and Management, IT & Engineering, Biosciences, Fashion Design, Law, and Social Sciences.
So why do international students continue to prefer the UK as an education destination? Studying in the UK goes beyond academic training and offers a unique cultural experience that Asian students are keen to be part of.
Save time and money: International students invest heavily when choosing higher education abroad, and time is money. Unlike the US, the UK offers shorter duration on their programmes, allowing students to control their expenditure and enter the jobs market faster.
International recognition: The UK has no shortage of world-recognised institutes offering qualifications that can kick start any career. Further, tailored programmes like foundation degrees and industry-specific training from colleges allow a much easier transition into higher education and increase student employability.
Free health care: International students can avail of the UK’s free healthcare system, also known as the NHS, if they are enrolled on courses for more than 6 months. This is greatly beneficial, saving money on doctor’s appointments and prescription medicines.
Living in the UK: Kath Tudor, Head of International Business at City of Bristol College, tells Asian Correspondent: “When compared to other education destinations, many international students choose us for the UK experience. They know they are getting high quality academic training but they are also keen to experience the British culture and our student life.” Kath says it is that balance between academics and an exciting social life that attracts international students to the UK. Living in the UK also allows students to travel within Europe.
UK educational institutes offer plenty of support to international students on arrival to the country. There are expert teams deployed to make sure students from outside the UK find their feet quickly, with assistance with everything from finding accommodation to counselling on personal matters.
In fact, for most students preparations begin even before they leave their home country. British Council’s Indian Head of Partnerships, Sucheta says: “A pre-departure briefing orientation is held by the British Council every year in different Indian cities for all students who are going to join a UK institution. At this orientation, advice on all aspects of student life in the UK like health and safety, teaching and learning methods used at a UK institutions and general aspects of student life, along with dos and don’ts and student visa information, is given. In addition to this, there is an interactive session with returned alumni who share their first hand experiences of student life in the UK.”
British Council exhibitions and pre-departure briefing orientations are held across Asia – Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Bangkok and China, to name a few. So what should a prospective student consider when choosing higher education in the UK? Sucheta advises: “To begin with, look at the entry requirements and course content of the programmes (of your choice). Following that, speak to alumni who have studied there to know their perceptions. Finally, don’t forget to look at the departmental ratings and the institute ratings.”
Socially, Sucheta’s tips for a fulfilling UK experience are: “Study hard, make new friends and connections with the multicultural population on a UK university campus. These will become friends for life and you can have a friend in every corner of the world.”
Below we have selected some of the leading colleges in the UK for Asian students:
One of the UK’s largest colleges, City of Bristol College is recognised as a leading educator providing high quality teaching and promoting overall personal development. The institute, renowned for its work with adults, young people and employers, has a mission of “achieving potential and creating prosperity” among students and the community. It offers a range of tailored courses that train students to successfully enter either further higher education or the jobs market equipped with industry-specific skills. These approaches have made it a popular choice among employers.
City of Bristol College hosts 8 faculties that offer more than 1,000 full-time, part-time and evening courses across four campuses – College Green Centre, Ashley Down Centre, Soundwell Centre, and South Bristol Skills Academy. This makes it the educator with the widest choice of programmes in England’s South West. Home to 30,000 students, City of Bristol College also provides a popular foundation degree programme in partnership with leading institutes across the country, such as University of West England (UWE), University of Plymouth, Bath Spa University and University of Bristol. Read more here…
Bringing together a federation of colleges – Sheffield City College, Hillsborough College, Norton College and Peaks College – Sheffield College is recognised for providing high quality education and excellent vocational training to its students. The College partners with schools and universities to offer industry-specific training and qualifications to enhance graduate employability. Its extensive range of full-time and part-time courses right from entry level to foundation degrees are popular among international students, looking to either get a grasp on the UK higher education system or improve upon existing skills for better chances of finding a job. These higher education courses for international students range from foundation degrees in Business Management and Enterprise, e-Communications for the Public Sector, Fashion Design & manufacture, Graphic Design, and Media Production; the Medical Foundation Programme prepares international students for the full-time Medical degree programme at the University of Sheffield.
Affordable quality education and world class student support are the hallmarks of Chichester College. This English University in West Sussex boasts an excellent reputation for its innovative teaching methods and commitment towards diversity. The College is home to 2500 international students each year representing 80 countries; Chichester College is the recipient of The Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its work with international students. Students can choose from more than 200 full-time programmes, including Engineering, Hospitality & Catering, and Performing Arts. The College also offers hundreds of part-time programmes about 60 bespoke workspace delivery programmes.
Located in the heart of Birmingham city, the UK’s most populous city outside of London with a thriving student population of over 65,000, Birmingham College represents the city’s multicultural and diverse community. Providing an excellent learning environment, the College has a mission of offering one of the best global educations and training relevant to international students and business communications worldwide. Personal tutorial input, small class sizes and additional academic support ensure a successful completion rate. This is a popular choice among international students who want to benefit from the College’s student friendly atmosphere and an exciting social life in a city that boasts a large Asian population. Along with its sought-after English Language Foundation Programme, Birmingham College also collaborates with leading British higher education institutes such as Coventry University, Edge Hill University and Staffordshire University. The College also has overseas collaborations with Asian countries – Gujrat State University and ICFAI Business School (IBS) in India, and Normal Teaching University in China.
Part of Wales’ Cardiff and Vale College, Cardiff College International (CCI) is a leading educator in the region, offering more than 100 courses to over 25,000 students, spread over 11 campuses – with the City Centre campus and the Trowbridge campus acting as the most important student centres. With an international community representing 40 countries, the students at CCI reflect Cardiff’s multicultural society. CCI offers a range of full-time and part-time courses including General English (Elementary – Advanced), IELTS Preparation and Study Skills, and the International Foundation programme available in Business, Management & IT. The College also offers a range of academic courses that include A/AS levels, and vocational training resulting in BTEC Extended Diploma that can greatly help applications for further higher education.