Posts Tagged ‘ UK University ’

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 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.

Key dates for UCAS 2016

October 12, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

It’s that time of year again, when students all around the world start thinking about where they want to spend the next few years of their life. For many of you, that means choosing a university and subject to study starting September 2016, and trying to work out how to apply for it. If you want to study a bachelor’s degree in the UK, you will need to use something called UCAS, which is an online system through which you can make applications to the university courses of your choice. The UCAS system is fairly strict, especially for UK students, but for international students it is a little more flexible. There are a number of important dates that you need to be aware of, however, which can have an impact on your applications if you’re not careful.

Let’s have a look at those dates in more detail:

October 15th 2015 – This is the deadline for applications to Oxford, Cambridge, medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science. It is much earlier than other universities and other courses, and these applications also require a great deal more work.

January 15th 2016 – This is the application deadline for most undergraduate courses if you’re a home student (someone from the UK). It’s basically inflexible: miss this, and you’ll have to apply through clearing. As an international student, however, universities are far more flexible, so you don’t need to worry about this particular deadline. International students will still be able to make an application right up until September 2016 at some universities.

February 25th 2016 – If you don’t hold any offers from your course choices, then you can use UCAS Extra to add another choice. It opens on February 25th.

March 24th 2016 – Deadline for some art and design courses.

May 4th 2016 – If you receive all your offers by March 31st, you will need to reply by May 4th. If you don’t, they’ll be declined and you’ll have to use UCAS Extra or ‘clearing and adjustments’.

May 5th – If you completed all your applications by January 15th, the university deadline to respond to them is May 5th. Once you receive all those offers, then the next date is an important one…

June 8th – This is the deadline for responding to all those offers you received by May 5th. Make sure you don’t miss this one.

June 30th – This is an important date for all students, as it’s the last date that you can apply to university for September/October 2016 entry. If you make an application after this date, then you’ll have to go through clearing.

July 4th – This is the last date you can add on Extra choice on UCAS Extra.

July 5th – The International Baccalaureate results are released today. Good luck to everyone taking them!

July 14th – If you applied by June 30th, this is the deadline for university and college decisions to make a decision and make an offer.

July 22nd – This is an important deadline, as it’s the very last date for replying to offers that you received by July 14th. Make sure that you don’t miss this one, as UCAS don’t send out any reminders! If you do miss this date, then you’ll enter clearing and adjustments.

August 18th – A Level results are released on August 18th, which means that adjustment and clearing opens. If you’ve missed your target universities, then you can go into clearing and apply for your course that way. You can only apply for one at a time, and as some courses fill up quickly you will have to move fast!

September 20th – This is the last date for September 2016 entry applications through UCAS. Applications should arrive by 6pm.

October 20th – This is it: the very last date for adding clearing choices, and for universities and colleges to accept students through clearing. Hopefully you won’t have waited until the middle of October to make your applications, but if you need to know it, then this is the very last date.

That is quite a lot of dates to remember, of course, and it’s not easy to remember all of them! For international students, you will have to apply for undergraduate courses through UCAS, but your deadlines are different. The January 15th deadline is only for home students, so you can still make applications after January, but you will have to respond to any offers you get by July 22nd. That is the key date, as after July 22nd you will have to go through clearing; this can be confusing and frustrating, so it’s best to get your applications completed and everything replied to by July 22nd! Of course, it is much easier if you ask an agent to make the process smoother for you, and if you don’t achieve the grades you were hoping to get, your agent will be able to give you some more options and advice.

Are you ready for Freshers’ Week?

October 9, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

Sometimes Freshers’ Week doesn’t last a week – it lasts a fortnight. That’s 14 nights – and days? – of hard partying, socialising, and not much else. It all sounds pretty good, really, and many people will tell you it’ll be some of the best weeks of your life. Don’t worry if it’s not, of course, and don’t worry if you don’t seem to make loads of new friends, either, as you’ll have 3 or more years to do that. If there is one thing guaranteed, though, it’s that you’ll get Freshers’ Flu, which is basically just a cold you’ll get from meeting people from all over the country, made worse by all the excitement and not resting properly. You can blame it on all those boozy club and pub nights you’ll be going to, but everyone gets it and it’s nothing to worry about. Just make sure that you get some rest, and try not to spend all your budget in those first few weeks.

Believe it or not, there are things to think about during your first few weeks at university other than going out and having fun. The whole going out and having fun thing is of course the main point of Freshers’ Week, and it would be remiss of us to encourage you to do anything other than have fun and meet people. But there are certain essential chores that you need to do when you move in to your accommodation for the first time, such as checking the inventory that your university provides you. You’ll need to have a look at this and make sure that everything listed is indeed in your room. You can also check your room for any damage – if there is any, take a photo of it, and let the university housing department know about it. You don’t want to be charged for damage that you didn’t cause, which is what might happen if you’re not careful in those first few days. It’s important to take care of those first few housekeeping chores, and then start thinking about meeting people and heading out into university life.

Not everyone is bouncing-off-the-walls sociable, and some are just plain scared of this big new university world they’ve stumbled into. If your neighbours or roommates are not keen on going out, or doing the same things as you, then don’t think anything bad of them – everyone goes at their own pace, and being able to develop and live at your own speed is one of the great things about university life. If you’re one of those who doesn’t like going out, and doesn’t want to get involved in all those crazy events with music you don’t care for, then don’t worry – there will be many, many more opportunities to make friends throughout the year. The hard truth is that the people you meet in your halls of residence probably won’t be your best friends throughout university, and a year – or 3 years – is a whole lot longer than Freshers’ Week.

One of the great things at Freshers’ Week is having the opportunity to join all manner of societies, like those that match your interests and those that you just like the sound of. After you’ve joined up, you’ll be able to meet new people, learn new things, and get involved in different activities. It is probably tempting to join as many as possible – as you’ll be able to meet lots more people and do things that might be outside your comfort zone. All of which is good and healthy, of course, but you don’t need to go crazy and join every society and club that you see. You could join a sports society to get some exercise, or a music society, and meet people who have the same interests. You don’t need to spend all your time at Freshers’ Week going to the drinking events, as there are many more ways of meeting people, making new friends, and getting involved in university life than just going to the Guild of Students or various student nights in the town centre.

It’s not just other people that you’ll need to get to know, as you should spend some time getting to know your surroundings and the campus. How to get into town and back, for example. What are the best bus routes? Where is the train station? And try to learn your address and postcode – that always helps.

And lastly, you’re at university to do some work, most likely on a computer. Don’t forget to back it up.

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.


Who can help with your academic English?

March 25, 2015 | Posted by ECA UK | No Comments »

Academic English and Proof Readers.

Academic English and essay writing can be difficult for many British students, so what chance does an international student have of doing well at university? James Galloway looks at the issue, and tells us how using a proofreading service can make all the difference to your grades.




We’ve all been there: it’s late at night, we’re staring at our computer, and we’re trying to work out just what those confusing academic guidelines mean for our essay. Should I indent those quotes? Should I even be quoting that part? Does this sentence make sense? Am I answering the question? All this goes through our minds, and as international students, trying to write essays in a foreign language is challenging enough, without having to think about writing it in academic English. Universities don’t always provide enough support for international students, either, so it’s difficult to find a solution that will help us improve our academic English, and keep our grades high.

There is one solution that is increasingly popular, and that is using a proof reader. A proof reader is someone who checks a document for spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, and can make sure that it reads smoothly. This can be really useful for international students worried about their academic English, and who are unsure if they are meeting their university’s guidelines. There are many companies out there who will help you with your essays, but if you’re not sure who to trust, or which company sounds reliable, then it’s best if you ask an academic counsellor, a consultant or agent, who knows where to find professional proofreaders and editors. You will pay by the hour, or by the number of words, and it is worth checking before you do agree to use their services, in case you have something like a long dissertation as that could become quite expensive!

Something that is really important for universities in the UK is the idea of ‘academic integrity’, or more simply, being honest about the work you’re submitting. The biggest issue is plagiarism, which in the UK is a form of cheating. Plagiarism is when you copy someone else’s work or ideas, and say they are your own. Quoting from someone is fine, but you always need to cite it, or say where it is from. Proof readers can help you with this, as university guidelines are quite strict about citation, and the format of your essay will usually need to be a certain way. The proof reader shouldn’t help you with the ideas themselves, however, as they need to be your own original ideas. Universities ultimately judge their students on the content of their work, so if you are an international student and you have strong, original ideas, but need some help expressing them in perfect English, then a proof reader is a great way to polish your essays.

A good proofreader will correct mistakes, but should also be able to advise you on your academic style of writing, on how to make your writing more powerful and effective, and highlight where your argument may not be supported well enough by facts or references. They should concentrate on taking your academic knowledge, and showing you how to express it better in academic English, without getting involved in the subject area.

Getting help with writing essays is great, but there are other companies online who will write your essays for you, and buying an essay online is a really bad idea in the UK. This is called academic misconduct, and you could fail a module or even a course if you get caught. Having something proofread is fine, as this will mean that only your mistakes get corrected, or the flow of the essay is changed so it is smoother. So try to remember, when you’re looking for help with your academic English, avoid paying someone to change your ideas, or to write your essays for you. Your course tutor and you agent will be able to give you advice, and will be able to help you improve your academic English in a way that is honest.

How to prepare for arrival in the UK – an international student’s guide.

By James Galloway

Coming to the UK as an international student is an exciting time: you’ll be making new friends, having new experiences, and learning new things every day. You’ll be starting a new life in the UK, and whether you’re coming to university or another place of study, that means there will be a lot to prepare. Let’s start with some basics.

It might seem obvious, but as an international student, you’ll need a valid passport, and you will need to have applied for and obtained a visa. You can apply for a visa yourself, but it’s often easier to ask an immigration advisor to help you with that, as they will know which documents you will need, and have a good understanding of the application process. If you do hire anyone to help with your visa, in the UK they must be registered with the OISC, which is part of the Home Office.

Students in the UK have their own halls of residence, but for international students at your place of study it might be different. Have you booked a place in a hall of residence? Have you arranged other accommodation? When can you check in? These are important questions you need to ask yourself. You will need to apply in advance, so make sure you take care of your accommodation as soon as possible.

As an international student, you will of course want to go out, go shopping, and buy things for your course. To do this you’ll need some cash – and making sure you have enough to cover your expenses for when you first arrive is an important thing to prepare. You can exchange currency at the airport, but the exchange rates there aren’t always favourable. The best idea is to either exchange it in your home country, or, if you think you can survive a few days, to research some good exchange rates at banks in the UK, which you can do online.

It’s one thing having money, and another thing being able to spend it: a budget, or at least setting limits on what you want to spend on living expenses, is also important. You don’t want to spend too much when you first arrive, but nor do you want to save everything and not go out and enjoy your new surroundings. So a balance needs to be reached, and having a limit on how much money you want to spend is a good idea.

You’ll also need to be ready for when you land in the UK. Whether you’re arriving at Heathrow or Gatwick, the first people that you’ll be talking to are Border Force, the officials at Passport Control. There usually won’t be a problem with them if your visa and passport are in order, but it will be a good idea to keep certain documents with you in your hand luggage, because a digital copy on your tablet or phone won’t be enough if you get asked!

Just in case you get asked, it will be a good idea to have copies of information on your course, for example your enrolment letter, and in certain cases you might need to show recent bank statements. This will be in only rare cases, as the bank statements show you will be able to pay for your course, or that you have a job in your home country that you plan on returning to. If you have been asked to show bank statements in your visa application, then you should have copies of those bank statements with you in your hand luggage.

Of course, you will also need to be ready to answer questions from Border Force when you arrive, such as why you’re coming to the UK, how long you plan to stay, and where you’ll be staying. These won’t be difficult questions, but you will need to answer them clearly – so try to be awake when you land! And definitely don’t forget that if you are coming with over €10,000 – or the equivalent – in cash, you will need to declare it when you arrive.

Investment in study

November 30, 2010 | Posted by ECA UK | Comments Off

Reasons for selecting a good university are as much as motives.  Some people used to say that the education is not everything and talent do not need diploma. Nowadays, increasingly numbers of people claim that a good education leads to success. Choosing and studying at a good university is usually a ”severe”, but now there are many good reasons why not only look easy way.

When I talk with students who speak English (or other language) and are making decisions about where to go to study, they usually considering between universities geographically located in Europe, United States, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. But far the most popular country to go and study these days is United Kingdom. Indeed, according to many newspaper articles there is a rise in European or International students at UK universities.

But why are the British Universities so popular? There are several reasons for selecting a UK university.  One is related to fields of study the ambition to learn more and better; because let’s face it UK universities has very good ranking among the Universities worldwide. The second is a desire to travel, to experience something new. It does not just mean dissatisfaction with domestic conditions, but to try a different system. Those who studied or are currently studying in UK probably experienced a little bit of  cultural shock.  For this situations is good to have somebody who can guide you through it.

I have decided to invest in my future and I did not regret it. I finished my masters in UK and I can only suggest this wonderful experience to everybody. If you are considering to invest in your future, do not hesitate to contact us and would be pleased to help with the first steps.

by Jozef Simon