The UK has many world-class universities, so thousands of international students come here to get an education. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), in 2012 – 2013 about 18% of the students were from other countries including China, India, and the USA.
Leaving home to study in a foreign country is not always easy, and international students face a myriad of challenges. One of the most common drawbacks is feeling lonely and homesick. Without family and friends around, students are more vulnerable – they cannot just go home every week like British residents. University counselling services are there to help.
Katarina Szesniewiz, 21, studying Music Entertainment, a student from Westminster, has had emotional problems as well as financial ones ever since she came to London from Poland last year. “My main challenges came in being lonely without family to encourage or support,” she said.
Another disadvantage for the international students is the language barrier. For those who are not native English speakers, moving to London might cause many misunderstandings – and make adapting to a new environment harder. This is why it is very important that students hoping to study in the UK are aware that knowledge and perseverance will be needed in order to polish their language skills.
Finance is a struggle for every student, considering the fact that London is one of the most expensive cities. Tuition fees average £9,000 – £12,000, which can be paid in full or after finishing the course. Add ever-increasing living costs to that, and the price is even higher.
“I see many students who have suffered hardship, such as homelessness,” said Nura Al Janubi, student advisor co-ordinator from Westminster University Students’ Union.
“They have financial problems because of the increased cost of living, and unexpected circumstances arising in their home country, resulting in their not being able to pay fees.”
Student loans can help the fees, and if you are willing to work it’s not hard to find part-time jobs in London. On top of that, grants and bursaries can help with living costs. Another good thing about living in London is its multicultural aspects – it offers opportunities to develop your skills, apply for internships and training placements. Also, you can meet great people from all around the world and learn cultures that are not similar to yours.
For Carlotta Castiglioni, 23, studying Psychology: “At first it was difficult considering the language and accommodation, but now I’m quite happy. London is multi-cultural and very fascinating
International students have to overcome many challenges and restrictions before acquiring a visa to study in the UK. After arriving in the capital, getting used to university life can be a challenge. But enjoy the good aspects, and make the most of learning from the negative ones. You are only a uni student once!
By Alina-Stefania Ivanovici, Julia Spalek and Syed Abbas
Image Credit: Creative Commons