Looking Beyond London – University Options for Indian Students
Many applicants from India considering study in the United Kingdom are drawn to London. The idea of spending three years in the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s most popular cities is exciting! Whilst there are definite advantages to studying in London, it is also important to note that there are many excellent universities in the UK outside London that offer a wide range of programs and an enriching campus experience.
Here are a few compelling reasons to consider studying at universities across the UK.
Lower tuition and living expenses
Cost (including tuition, living and travel) is an important factor for many Indian applicants who are considering studying abroad. Living in London undoubtedly costs a lot more than elsewhere in the country. The average weekly rent for a student at University College London or Imperial College London is around £106 (roughly Rs 8,900), whereas at the University of Newcastle that amount is around £87 (Rs 7,300). Similarly, travel, food and social expenses are also significantly higher for students in London, with the weekly figure for this totalling roughly £177 (Rs 14,800) for students at UCL or Imperial, in comparison to about £105 (Rs 8,800) at the University of Manchester.
London is a large city and student accommodation can be tricky. Students are competing with young professionals and everyone else for the same properties in central London. Because of this high demand, student accommodation in London can be cramped and more expensive than outside the capital city.
Furthermore, students live in ‘halls’ – accommodation which is shared by different colleges and universities across the city. University of London halls are inter-collegiate, which means that students from any of its 18 constituent colleges including Birbeck, Goldsmiths, King’s College, London Business School, Queen Mary, Royal Holloway, SOAS, City, LSE and UCL will be housed together in the same hall. In contrast, at ‘campus universities’ in places outside the London area, all students live together in the same university halls. Being in close vicinity of your classmates and friends allows you to build strong, lasting relationships with them and can provide a support network during your time away from home. Studying at a campus university can save you a great deal of time on long commutes, because you generally live close to your classes and lectures.
If university rankings play an important role in your selection of colleges, then keep in mind that studying at some of the leading universities outside of London is actually better than attending a less well-reputed university within London. For instance, if you are looking to study Economics and do not get accepted to the program at UCL or LSE there are excellent options such as the University of Bath, Durham, York and Exeter.
In terms of employability, five of the top 10 UK universities on the measure of graduate employability are outside of London, these being Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Edinburgh and Bristol. In fact, the University of Manchester actually ranks higher than Imperial, King’s College, UCL and London Business School.
As such going to a well-reputed university outside of London can result in better employment opportunities than some of the lower ranked universities within London.
Living in London as an international student you do not get to experience the ‘campus university’ – the traditional college experience of a close-knit campus with all facilities, accommodation, lectures and student organizations in close proximity.
At non-London universities, social events are primarily organised by the student union and you end up making friends as you spend considerable time together. At Oxford for example, each college often organises college “Bops”, fancy dress parties for members of the college on a regular basis, which allows students living and studying in the same college to bond and have fun together.
Whether London or campuses across other parts of the UK, explore your options and learn more about the different kind of undergraduate experiences universities have to offer. When you select colleges consider all relevant factors when deciding where to study and make an informed choice.
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