Why choose the UK for postgraduate study?

Every year, students from all over the world choose to study in the UK for masters or PhD-level qualifications. Chances are that these include several people you know - and now you are considering trying it out yourself. So why should you choose the UK for postgraduate study?

Quality postgraduate education

UK universities have a great reputation across the world, often with several decades or even centuries of history behind them. Most qualifications you can gain with them will be respected anywhere in the world, a huge plus in today's international work environment.

Postgraduate courses in the UK fall into two broad categories: taught programmes and research-based programmes. Whichever type you choose, you are likely to benefit from small to medium class sizes with plenty of interaction, a favourable staff-to-student ratio, good facilities (books, laboratory equipment) and opportunities to develop your critical thinking skills. The learning environment is open and informal. You will be encouraged to follow your interests, ask questions and develop your own opinions, all of which will go a long way in preparing you for the workplace or for further research. The programmes are intensive, but that's an advantage: most are a year long, about half the duration of similar courses elsewhere in the world. This means you can get on with your career that much more quickly.

Life experience

A major part of studying abroad is the experience of living in a different country, meeting interesting people and savouring various cultures. It's hard to beat the UK for a multicultural student environment - the postgraduate community has a very high percentage of international students, and they come from several countries. It's also a student-friendly society: you'll find several discounts and offers tailored to students' needs, enabling you to sample some of the fine sporting and cultural events that crowd the calendar. If you enjoy the experience and want to build further on it, there are schemes to enable you to work in the UK for a short period after you graduate.

Things to keep in mind

The pluses of choosing postgraduate study in the UK are clear - but you still need to think carefully before making the choice. Postgraduate study is not something to be undertaken on a whim. It can be expensive (non-EU students can expect to pay about £10,000 a year in fees for most courses, and living expenses can add several thousand to that), and as with any investment, you need to know exactly what you want out of it. Getting another degree won't magically give you direction in life, or deliver a fantastic job automatically to your doorstep. Decide what kind of career you would like, and choose the course that will sharpen your skills and give you the qualifications that will help you build one. Universities are of different types - old or young, urban or campus-based, broad or narrow in the range of subjects offered - and have varying strengths across subject areas. Pick the right university for your personality and your subject. Finally, your level of comfort with the English language will play a large part in how much you benefit from your course. Almost all courses will be taught in and require you to write in English. If you don't feel confident enough, it's worth spending some time working on your English before you begin.

Get the most out of it

So there you are - the UK is an excellent place to get your advanced degree and build your confidence while being exposed to different cultures and new experiences. It's not something everyone gets to do, so if you decide to go ahead, spend some time working out your needs so that you get the best out of it.