Postgraduate category

Here’s why you should enrol in January.

November 26, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

Many UK university courses start in September, but for a lot of international students who want to study in the UK, enrolling in September is not an option: your course back at home finishes at a different time, for example, and you want to get started soon and not have to wait until next September. That is totally understandable, and in order to help you out, these days it is possible to enrol in January instead.

There are lots of courses that you can enrol on in January now, from foundation courses, to pre-master’s courses, and even some undergraduate and postgraduate degrees start in January. You can check which degrees are available on the university’s website, as not all courses have both September and January start dates; or, you can check with your agent, as they will be able to give you some more options and make the process smoother.

If you need to study a foundation year or a pre-master’s course, then a January start date is really useful. You will start in January and finish in July or August, which means that you will have a lot more options when you choose an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. Your summer holiday won’t be as long as other students’ holidays, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem: a big part of a foundation degree and pre-master’s programme is learning study skills for a UK degree, so you don’t want to forget everything that you have learned!

Choosing an English course, a foundation year, or a pre-master’s course can be complicated, as there are lots of options. It is best to have a clear goal of which degree you want to study and why, and then find the foundation or pre-master’s that fits it, and that allows you to progress to the degree of your choice. That way, you will get the most out of your study in the UK. If you’re still not sure about which courses are best for you, check with your agent, as they will have more advice, and will help you map out a study plan.

If you’re looking for advice on your study plan, or you’re interested in coming to the UK, why not get in contact? January enrollment is now open!

Study tips – how to study at a UK university.

November 20, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

Studying in the UK will be a whole new experience for international students, from the new lifestyle, to making new friends, and trying exciting new things. It’ll be a great time for all of you, but don’t forget about the reason you have come to the UK – studying! UK universities are well-respected around the world, and there is a reason for that, as academic culture in the UK is quite unique and specialised. If you’re feeling a bit nervous about the studying side of things, here are some study tips and facts to help you on your way.

  • Independent study is important: most students will have to study on their own at university, and will be expected to make decisions for themselves and to come up with their own ideas. This means no plagiarism!
  • You will need to be critical: it’s not enough to just learn facts in the UK, it’s more important to be able to criticise facts and arguments, so that you can see if it is true, and if it is supported and makes sense.
  • Learn how to argue: a key part of studying in the UK is learning how to argue, and how to construct your own arguments in your essays. This is almost more important than being able to learn the facts themselves – and it is something that you’ll have to practice.
  • Take notes in lectures… but not too many notes: Lectures are place where you’ll get a lot of your learning done, and you’ll be introduced to a lot of new info. You will need to make notes, but you should write everything down – just the main points. You can learn different tricks and skills for note taking to make all that simpler, such as abbreviation, different coloured pens, and making sure everything is written concisely. Make sure that you write up your notes after each lecture, as that way you’ll make sure that you understand everything clearly, and can check those things you don’t.
  • Get involved in seminars: it might be a nervy at first, but those seminars are a great place to talk about what you’ve been studying, and learn different interpretations from other students. Make sure you’re familiar with what you’re going to be looking at before each seminar, and do the reading in advance. This will really help, and you won’t look foolish when you get asked your opinion! It will also give you face-to-face time with your tutor, which is very valuable, and you’ll have the opportunity to ask questions about things you don’t understand.
  • Words, words, words: you’ll be given a list of books (texts) at the beginning of your course, and even though you don’t have to read every book, you will have to make the effort to buy the essential texts. All those books can be expensive, though, and sometimes you’ll find that you won’t have to read all a book – just a few selected chapters. This is where the library comes in handy, as you can get the books for free, or pay a little and photocopy the key chapters. Photocopying is really useful, as you will be able to make notes in the margins, highlight the key lines, and not have to worry about returning the book in good condition. Second hand books are also really useful, and there will probably be a second hand bookshop near your university that sells a lot of the books you need at a reduced price, or you can check Amazon Marketplace for used books.
  • And finally… Reading is itself a skill, and skim reading is a great ability to have when your reading list is piling up. Focus on the key chapters, and read the first and last lines of each paragraph first – this will introduce the topic of the paragraph, as well as the conclusion – and then you can quickly look through the rest of the paragraph for key words. This will save you a lot of time, and obviously works best for reading text books and academic material, rather than novels!

That is a lot of things to think about, but don’t let it put you off! A foundation year or pre-master’s course not only teaches you about your chosen subject, but it also prepares you for study in the UK. You’ll learn how to think critically, how to problem solve, and get practice in the academic culture that we have here in the UK. Understanding what is expected of students at universities in the UK is incredibly important, so ask your agent for more advice about a foundation year or pre-master’s course.

How to … win at Immigration Control

November 10, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

When you arrive in the UK, you’ll probably arrive at one of the international airports close to London, especially if you’re coming from outside the European Union (EU). Your most likely arrival destination is Heathrow Airport, though you might also land at Gatwick. As Heathrow is one of the busiest airports in the world, it is more likely that you’ll land there. It is now quite convenient to get to the centre of London from Heathrow, so definitely aim for that airport if you have a choice.

After you land, you’ll pass through Immigration Control, which is also called Passport Control. If you’re an international student, you will need to prepare a few things for this before your flight to the UK, as the border force officer who will check your passport and visa or entry clearance, will also ask you a few questions about your study and how long you plan on staying in the UK.

So, you should keep these things in your hand luggage:

  • Your passport, obviously
  • Your offer letters and confirmation of acceptance for studies (CAS letter)
  • Copies of your financial documents
  • Address of the place you’re going to stay

Many students will only buy a one way ticket, so the border force officer will ask you how long you’re going to stay in the UK. You can show him your CAS and offer letters, and tell him that you’ll be returning home after your course finishes.

This is especially important if you’re going to enrol at university in the UK, but you’re first studying a pre-sessional course or English course that requires a separate visa. You will need to show your offer letters for your university course, which will explain your situation clearly.

There are usually two lines at immigration control: one is for European Economic Area and Swiss nationals, and the other line is for everyone else. Make sure you join the correct queue! The border force officer will then stamp your passport, usually on the visa page, and this will be the date that you arrived in the UK. This date is important for future visa applications.

However, if you’re coming to the UK for a course that is less than 6 months, then the officer will stamp ‘short-term student’ in your passport. The guys at Immigration Control don’t usually make mistakes, but check your passport to make sure everything is in order.

After you’ve got through immigration control, you can go and collect your luggage. The immigration lines at Heathrow can get pretty busy, but hopefully you won’t have to wait too long. After picking up your luggage, your final destination is Customs Control, which is where the officers ask if you have anything to declare. Well, they used to ask this, but now there are colour-coded lines and signs for you to look out for.

These are the colours you need to look out for, and what the mean:

  • Green: you have nothing to declare
  • Blue: you have arrived from an airport in the EU and have already cleared all your baggage through Customs Control there
  • Red: you have goods to declare

Having goods to declare means that you have certain items in your luggage that are controlled in the UK; also, if you are carrying the equivalent of 10,000 euros or more in any currency (and that can be in cash, banker’s draft, or any cheque), then you will need to declare it too.

Other items that you need to declare at customs are illegal drugs; weapons; self-defence sprays such as pepper spray; rough, uncut diamonds; and personal imports of meat and dairy products. Obviously you’re not going to be carrying any of these – hopefully – but it’s good to know, just in case.

One final issue that you will need to declare is if you have gone over your duty free allowance. All passengers coming from outside the EU are allowed to bring a certain amount of duty free alcohol and tobacco products into the UK, and you can see the limit here.

It is possible that your luggage will be searched at Customs Control, so make sure that you declare any items that you need to. If you have items that need to be declared, then depending on what they are you may be asked to pay tax or duty, give up the banned goods, or show documents such as permits of licenses that allow you to have possession of certain restricted goods or items.

The UK Border Force has a list of Customs Control and Immigration Control tips for students, and you can see them here.

Your brief guide to… Fireworks Night

November 3, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »


We don’t have many festivals in the UK, though we get a couple in Autumn for everyone to enjoy: Hallowe’en at the end of October, which you might remember from blogs such as this one, and Fireworks Night on November 5th. Fireworks Night is also known as Guy Fawkes Night and Bonfire Night, and even though it’s a fun, family-oriented festival now, the history behind it all is quite dark – so if you don’t know it, it’s time to get illuminated.

Remember, remember the 5th of November

Gunpowder, treason and plot

On November 5th 1605, Guy Fawkes (also known as Guido Fawkes) and other Catholic plotters tried to destroy parliament and kill King James I of England by planting and blowing up barrels of gunpowder under the House of Lords in London, which they hoped would return England to Catholic rule. They very nearly managed it, too, as Guy Fawkes himself was caught under the parliament building in the area the plotters had rented, with matches and touchwood in his pockets. The barrels of gunpowder were found nearby, hidden under wood and coal.

The intelligence service in England was quite sophisticated at the time, and they were already onto the plot. They found out most of the names of the plotters through questioning servants, and tortured Guy Fawkes into confessing and finally giving up his fellow conspirators. King James I himself gave the order for Guy Fawkes’ torture, despite being impressed with his bravery and manner, and even gave a list of questions for him to be asked.

Guy Fawkes suffered terribly in the infamous Tower of London, most likely on the rack. His fellow conspirators were also captured, tortured, tried and sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered – a gruesome execution. The prisoner is dragged through the city by a horse, hanged until nearly dead, then cut up into four quarters, and the pieces of his body sent around the country as a warning. Executions were a kind of entertainment back then, and people were encouraged to celebrate the King’s escape from the assassination attempt by lighting bonfires around London – which is a tradition that still exists today.

An effigy of Guy Fawkes – called a guy – is often made and put on the bonfire these days, and in local villages and towns the guy used to be taken through the town, much like Guy Fawkes himself was dragged through London, before being burned on the bonfire. At first, this effigy was a model of the pope, but these days it is usually an effigy of Guy Fawkes that is burned. People use old clothes, newspapers, and make a mask for his face. Most famously, we also set off fireworks with the bonfires, which has been tradition since the 1650s. Local people gather round the public bonfire, watch the fireworks, and children play with sparklers. Around Guy Fawkes Night we also eat toffee apples, which are a sweet, sugary treat, and are something that you can make at home.

It is possible to buy and set off your own fireworks, but you need to be careful and make sure you’re using them safely. There are always lots of events going on around the country, especially in London, so why not find the one closest to you, and check it out?

Your brief guide to… Hallowe’en

October 29, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

The days are getting shorter and the evenings are getting darker, which means only one thing – that it will soon be time to listen out for things that go bump in the night, as October 31st and Hallowe’en are almost upon us. Traditionally the time when spirits and ghosts come out to ruin the crops before harvest, Hallowe’en (which is the shortened name of ‘All Hallows’ Eve’) is by many people no longer seen as the pagan and Christian festival it really is, but more a time for trick or treating, donning costumes, and for embracing all things horror.

The classic symbol of Hallowe’en is the pumpkin lantern, or the jack-o-lantern, with a pair of eyes and a wicked smile carved into it, and a candle inside to really give you a fright when the night draws in. Jack-o-lanterns look scary because that was their original purpose: to scare off the evil spirits and ghosts that threatened the crops. They’re now used as decoration and are a fun thing to make. You can buy pumpkins from supermarkets in the UK, and can find some great designs to carve into them. Instead of scaring away evildoers, pumpkin lanterns are something that you and your friends (or family) can make, and can be used to decorate your house or apartment and get into the Hallowe’en spirit.

One particular American tradition around Hallowe’en is ‘trick or treating’, which involves children dressing up in costumes and collecting sweets (or candy, if you must) from neighbours. The children dress up in suitably scary costumes, knock on their neighbours’ doors, and ask them, ‘Trick or treat?’ Usually the neighbour will say treat, and hand over some sweets for the children to take home, but sometimes they will ask the children to do some kind of trick in return. This is not very common in the UK, it has to be said, as we think ‘trick or treating’ is a kind of American export. There are other things for adults to do on Hallowe’en, of course, from the traditional to the non-traditional, and it’s always fun dressing up and heading out with your fellow students for some costumed fun.

There are loads of things to do for Hallowe’en in London and across the UK, and here is a selection of some of the best. Your university will probably have some events going on that you can participate in, or you can simply organise some with your friends. A Hallowe’en themed house party? That could be just the ticket.

How to … register with a doctor

October 28, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

Don’t wait until you’re ill to see a doctor – make sure it’s one of the first things you do when you arrive in the UK. You see, you can’t just turn up at the doctor’s office and get an appointment, as you need to register with a local doctor first. This is why it’s important to get it done as soon as possible.

Firstly, you’ll need to know a fee new words. A ‘GP’ is what we call a family doctor (it means General Practitioner), and they can check you out for all sorts of different illnesses, both physical and mental. After they have done that, they’ll issue a prescription, which you take to the nearest chemist (the name for the drugstore or pharmacy in the UK), or if you’ve got a serious illness, or need more specialised care that your GP can’t offer, then they’ll refer you to a hospital.

That’s the usual process, but you’ll need to register at your local GP surgery first. Don’t worry, ‘surgery’ is just what we call the GP’s office – you don’t have to have an operation. There are lots of doctors with whom you’ll be able to register, so finding one won’t be difficult.

Obviously you should choose somewhere near where you live…

Registering at the surgery is pretty simple, and you’ll need to remember to bring a letter from your university or college that proves you’re a student, as well as your passport and biometric residence permit. You might also need a proof of address, such as your contract for your accommodation. Registering with a doctor means that you won’t be charged for using the National Health Service. In fact, you’ve already paid for it, remember? That immigration health surcharge fee that you had to pay when you applied for your visa is meant to cover most of your health-related expenses, so make sure that you don’t end up paying even more because you forgot to register with a doctor.

This doesn’t mean that all your health and medical expenses will be free, and you’ll have to pay for certain treatments and procedures at hospitals. But your initial appointment with your GP will be free, and for students on courses of any duration in England, Scotland, and Wales can have free appointments. In Northern Ireland, only students on courses of 6 months or more can get free appointments, so you’ll need to make sure that you don’t get a surprise bill at the end of the appointment.

After you register with your local GP, you’ll receive a medical card through the post with your NHS number. Make sure you take this with you when you visit the doctor, and don’t lose it! And that should be everything. Hopefully you won’t need to visit the doctor very often – or at all – during your stay in the UK, but make sure you’re prepared.

How you can deal with culture shock

October 27, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

Studying overseas is a great experience. You’ll meet friends from all over the world, visit new places, and be stimulated by something different pretty much every day. It’s not always plain sailing, though, and there will be challenges along the way that you will need to prepare for, not least the culture shock that will affect all of you at some point.

When you’re feeling uncomfortable about experiencing a new way of life, this is culture shock: it is usually talked about when someone has moved overseas to study or work, and they have difficulty adjusting to their new way of life, their new surroundings, or have trouble adapting to the language barrier. You can also experience culture shock when adapting to a new social environment, or another type of life. Culture shock comes from trying to manage cultural contrasts, and is that attempt to adjust to surroundings or an environment that are completely foreign. If you are feeling culture shock, it is not just you who is suffering from it, as it is something that is very common, and happens to everyone.

You can look at culture shock as a kind of psychological condition, where you feel disoriented by your new, unfamiliar surroundings. It doesn’t always start like that, however, as the first stage of culture shock is usually a ‘honeymoon period’, of finding everything about your new home great. The food, the people, the culture, everything about the new experience seems great. You’ll be spending time with people who speak your language – but who you might discover you don’t have many things in common with – and you’ll be respectful and friendly towards your new hosts. This honeymoon period usually lasts for about three months, by which point all those things you started to like have in fact started to annoy you, and those friendly locals don’t seem so friendly.

This change in opinion is where you start to see culture shock taking shape. The differences between your old culture and your new one become more and more visible, and the excitement that you used to feel has turned into frustration. This period is known as ‘negotiation.’ You will start to feel homesick, and notice that there are cultural and language barriers between yourself and other people. Homesickness can be especially bad if you are missing birthdays, Christmas with your family, or other religious festivals and family time. For international students, the negative aspects can be heightened even more, as you won’t have your family to support you, and you will be outside your usual network of friends. Having to use English in an academic setting can also make the communication and language barriers seem worse than they are, as there is more pressure to use English correctly.

After the three month honeymoon period, you’ll hear lots of people moaning and complaining, about the food, the locals, the trains, in fact pretty much anything. It is easy to be negative and to complain as well, but try not to. And if you can manage this, then you’ll be in the ‘adjustment’ phase or culture shock. This is the light at the end of the tunnel, as you’ll be in a new routine based around your new life, and you’ll have learned new problem-solving skills. You’ll also have learned a lot of new information about the UK to share with others, which makes the whole experience easier to handle. Adjustment doesn’t mean that you’ve ‘gone native’, but it does mean that you have come to learn what to expect in most situations in your new home, and that you have adjusted and to life here.

Once you have learned how to adjust, then the final stage is ‘adaption’, which is seen as being ‘bicultural.’ Not everyone can reach this stage, however, as no one will truly leave their old culture. But adjustment and adaption are the goals, so those who suffer from culture shock need to look at how to reach them.

Everyone is different, of course, so the time frames for each stage will be different, and the things that set off culture shock will be different for each person. The methods of coping will be similar, though, and the first step is research. You need to know what to expect, in terms of life style, food, where you can buy things from home, and also safety. This will make your initial few months, and the transition to your new life, much smoother. It’s always a good idea to keep learning the language, and to try to make friends who are not from your home country. This will help you integrate more into your new surroundings, and you’ll also find that you’ll learn about new cultures and new perspectives, which is one of the reasons people want to go overseas in the first place.

If you find it difficult to meet new people, then try joining societies or clubs at university, where you can learn more about the UK. You’ll also be able to share any difficulties you’re having with your new friends, and that will make them all easier to handle. Of course, try to stay in contact with your friends and family back at home, and try calling instead of messaging. This is much more personable, and you’ll be able to maintain relationships easier. You’ll also be able to meet any new family members that you missed out on, even if it is remotely.

Striking a balance between your old and new life isn’t always easy, and it is a challenge of living overseas. There is a lot to take in, and it will be tempting to hang out with people from the same country as you. The most important thing is to try to enjoy yourself and stay positive, as your study abroad experience is something that you’ll be able to remember for the rest of your life.

A few things about council tax

October 7, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

People in the UK are famous for their dark humour, and we often say that there are only 2 certain things in life: death, and taxes. Now, we’re not going to talk about death, but we are going to talk about tax. In fact, there’s one tax in the UK that you should be aware of, and that is council tax.

Firstly, don’t panic: not all students will have to pay council tax, and if you’re an international student it is likely that you will be exempt. However, it is better to be safe than sorry, and to know just what it is that you may or may not have to pay. Council tax is something that most people living in the UK have to pay based on the value of their property (called a ‘dwelling’), and that money goes towards paying for services provided by the council, such as the fire brigade and rubbish collection. The bigger and more valuable your dwelling is, the more council tax you have to pay. Similarly, if you live with one or more working adults (people over 18 with full time jobs), you will also have to pay council tax.

However, the good news is that not everyone has to pay council tax, as some people – and some properties – are actually exempt. This means that if you meet certain requirements, you don’t have to pay any at all. Yes, that’s nothing at all. Zero. Zip. Nada. Having those extra pounds in your pocket can make all the difference to students trying to survive on a budget, and it is definitely worth knowing who is exempt, and who is not.

The people who have to pay council tax are those who are ‘solely and mainly’ resident in the UK. This means that any of you who are international students studying English for a short period of time, or if you’re a student studying another kind of short course, then you won’t have to pay council tax, as you are not regarded as long-term residents in the country. In the case of university students, you also don’t have to pay council tax. Even if you’re writing your dissertation or thesis, so long as you are still enrolled at your university you will be considered a student – which means no council tax.

Some courses have work placements as part of them, and this can affect your status as a student. Basically, the length of your work placement can’t be longer than the period you spend studying; if it is, then you are no longer regarded as a student. This is going to be a rare occurrence, but it shows that you need to remain enrolled as a ‘student’ for the majority of your stay in the UK in order to be exempt from council tax.

Some universities will give you a certificate stating that you’re a student, and you can show it to the local authority if they ask to see one. Other local authorities have online forms that you need to complete, and then they check your student status directly with the university. Each local authority is different, so it is worth checking when you arrive in the UK.

When you’re choosing who to live with, as a full time student who will need to be a little careful: this is because, if you’re living with a person or people who are not full time students, then you might have to pay council tax. As a student, you will be able to apply for a student disregard discount, but this will still mean that you have to pay some council tax. You can apply for a discount with your local council.

If you are an international student in the UK with a spouse or dependent who is not a British citizen, and they have leave to enter or leave to remain in the UK, but are not able to get employment here and ‘no recourse to public funds’ on their visa or Biometric Residence Permit, then you will be exempt from council tax. You will have to show a copy of the passport or BRP to prove it, of course.


A few things about IELTS

October 2, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

From 6th April 2015, the UK government changed the regulations for English tests acceptable for visa applications, meaning that only Secure English Language Tests (SELTs) can be used in visa applications. One of these is IELTS Academic for UKVI, which is the test most international students will take, and is the main English test that UK universities recognise. There other tests that universities recognise, but IELTS Academic for UKVI is the standard.

If you took your last test before 6th April 2015, you will still be able to use it to apply for a visa – but only until 5th November 2015, when the new regulations come into force. So if the last IELTS test you took was before April 6th, then you will need to take another IELTS test as soon as possible! The IELTS Academic for UKVI test is the same as the previous one, so you should prepare for the same type of questions as before. The only difference is that you will receive a secure number that will be used for your visa application, so make sure that you choose the right test when you’re completing your online booking.

You can see more information here, but let us know if you have any questions about the new IELTS test!

The 4 truths of choosing a PhD supervisor.

July 21, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

A PhD is a lot of hard work. In fact, it’s a lot of hard work even applying for a PhD, what with all the proposal writing and application to go through. Even after doing all that, there is no promise that you’ll even get accepted to the PhD programme, as you will first need to find an academic to supervise your studies. This can be the toughest part, as it will involve speaking with academics in the department you’re applying to, sending out your proposal for feedback, and – if disaster strikes – there is even the possibility that you won’t be able to find anyone willing to be your supervisor.

That would indeed be a disaster. And let’s face it, academics don’t always make it easy for prospective students: if you contact the wrong guy, he probably won’t take the time to point you in the right direction. So it’s important to be on the money from the start, and not waste anyone’s time. To make things easier, and help you find the right target, we’ve got 4 truths that you can follow, and that will lead you down the path to postgraduate enlightenment.

1. Find someone who knows about your research area.

Let’s start with the obvious one: your supervisor will need to be someone with an interest in the topic you’re going to research, and will have already supervised other PhD students in a similar field, written papers on a similar topic, and basically be ready to share his expertise and impart his wisdom. If you try to choose a supervisor who doesn’t have an interest in your particular field, then be prepared for them to say no. Not all economists have research interest in every aspect of economics, for example, though some academics have quite niche interests which could benefit your own research. Universities have staff lists online detailing each academic and their interests, so that is the best place to start looking. These staff lists also have contact details, so you can reach out and begin talking to your chosen supervisor that way.

2.Find someone who will be available when you need them to be.

It will be tempting to find a supervisor who is a star professor, a stud academic who will be able to take your research to the next level, and sprinkle magic dust on your career. This may well be the case, and good luck if you can find one. But being supervised by a famous academic – or any academic, in reality – could in fact have pitfalls, the most pressing one being, Will they be able to commit as much time as you need? If they’re a well-known academic, they might be off at conferences, going to book launches, or even jet off overseas on a regular basis. That won’t be very helpful to you – especially when you consider that you should ideally be meeting your supervisor at least once a week!

Every meeting you have with your supervisor is valuable, and when you have the opportunity to speak with them you should take it. They are your guides, as much as anything, so make sure that the supervisor you choose is well-regarded, but is also going to be available when you need them. It would be great to have that famous academic supervising you, and have their name next to yours on your thesis. You will be able to say that he or she supervised you, but what did they actually do? If they’re genuinely famous, not much, probably. Don’t forget: it’s your time, not theirs.

3. Find someone with experience.

When you’re trying to choose your supervisor, you need to consider their track record, and their past successes. An academic supervisor guides students through the process of a research degree that can last 3 or 4 years: some students don’t perform as well as they hoped, some finished late, and some don’t finish at all. So you’ll need to ask, how did your supervisor’s previous students get on? Did they finish in time? Were their doctorates successful? A great supervisor will have a great track record of seeing students complete their degree both on time and successfully.

You’ll need to make sure that your supervisor is experienced, and knows what they’re doing. If they’ve only recently started taking on their own PhD students, they might be doing so with supervision from other academics, and so they will be feeling their own through the supervision process. If they are the only academic with an interest in your research area, then you might not have any other option, but getting someone experienced is the best route. An experienced supervisor will already know what effective supervision is, and will be able to anticipate issues before they even arise.

4. Find someone who you can get on with.

A doctorate is the pinnacle of studying at university. It is another 3 or 4 years of ups and downs, with struggles and new discoveries on the way. You will be relying on your supervisor to help you navigate your way to completion, and you will spend time with them each week, discussing ideas, talking about new research, arguing, laughing, and going through the whole range of emotions together. One of the most important questions you’ll have to ask yourself is: Can I get on with them? Are they a decent person? This could be difficult to judge, and you will need to speak with your potential supervisor in order to find out. Many universities encourage students to send in an application, and let the administrators match them with a suitable member of staff. This could save you time, but it’s an inefficient process in reality, as the administrators sometimes don’t know what they should be looking for in an academic profile. It would be far better if you looked for a supervisor yourself, as you will be able to gauge their willingness to supervise you, their interest in your proposal, and then inform the admissions team of their commitment.

Of course, finding a supervisor by yourself isn’t easy, and ECA UK can help you with the process. It will be far more rewarding than being supervised by someone who was chosen for you by admissions, just because they had a slightly smaller workload. Being supervised is a personal process, so finding a supervisor should be a personal process too. Follow ECA UK’s 4 truths, and make it that way!