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Education Briefing

British Council

Compiled by Ross Hunter, Headmaster,
The English International School

PASSPORT’s fourth Education Briefing gets down to the detail of how to apply, successfully! Applications ought to be sent by November (earlier for some courses, and places e.g. Medicine and Oxbridge). Selections need to be made before September, which means visits in April or July. It is not hard, and there is plenty of choice. Articles here and in August will help you. Our thanks to Sheffield Hallam and Middlesex Universities for their expert advice. For those looking for the greatest international opportunities, and/or do not have the qualifications that most universities require, there are more options, including the European University. But get moving, and get help! Do contact anyone on these pages, but above all, get professional advice, early. We welcome feedback and more articles by experts.

UCAS – the applications system

Rebecca Crookes, Sheffield Hallam
University, Yorkshire 

Thanks to a centralised application system (‘UCAS’) and well developed University websites, applying to UK universities is very straightforward, whether you live in the UK or not. Let’s keep it simple: Before you apply, do your research. There is a wealth of information at your fingertips, whether you are already familiar with a favourite university city or if you have never visited the UK. A full-time undergraduate course means spending three or four years in the UK so make sure you’re picking the right course, the right university and the right place for your needs. Do not limit yourself to subjects which are taught in schools.

Top tips

Visit each institution’s website to learn more detail about the course content, what modules you may study, what options there are for work placements/internships and the related research commitment.

What will they do to help you: student support services. Meet you at the airport? Organise a full orientation on arrival? Help with settling in?

What academic support is available? How much contact time can you expect with lecturers? Libraries open 24 hours? Access to online learning facilities?

Accommodation is vital. A guaranteed place in university accommodation in year one? How close is it to the campus? Your own room? Cost?

Before deciding, think about your expectations and needs for the campus. What sports facilities are there? Where is the campus: central or outside the town? What IT equipment is available? How big are the teaching and learning centres? What subject specific equipment do they have?

On many university websites you can take virtual tours of the campus and sample lectures and tutorials. Some, such as Sheffield Hallam University, also run online mentoring schemes and weekly web chats where you can contact UK staff and current international students for advice about the application process, and get further information about the university and the city.

Once you are happy with your chosen places, find out more about their cities. Tourist review and local government websites give you good advice about vital elements such as the cost of living, transport, local amenities, population size and places of interest: make the most of your student days. If possible, visit the UK before choosing your universities, but if not, there is more information easily available online than ever. So make sure you use it.

When the research is done, complete your UCAS application. You will be relieved to discover how straightforward the process is. Visit and follow the instructions to register. You will then be supplied with a username which will enable you to access your UCAS online account at any time to update your application form or track the progress of your application. The application process is explained step by step and the form can be completed and saved in stages. The UCAS form is in seven sections: personal details; course choices; education & academic qualifications; employment history; your personal statement; references (to be supplied by your tutor/school); and a declaration. You can only apply once per UCAS cycle, but you can include up to five course choices at up to five different institutions. Note! Cambridge, Oxford, medicine, dentistry & veterinary medicine have special rules.

Once your choices are made and your application is complete you or your school simply process your payment online, and submit your application. UCAS forward it to your universities, then contact you. It’s never been easier to apply for an undergraduate course in the UK - so why wait?

Study in the UK for Careers in the Creative Industries

Lesley Marks, Middlesex University,

The UK is one of the world’s most innovative centres for the creative and visual arts. It is a world centre for creative education and the related businesses. Competition for a career in the creative arts is fierce, but in the UK you’ll have the best possible start in a culturally diverse and inspirational environment with well respected university courses. With over 300 museums and galleries, 63 theatres and 400 live music venues in London alone, your work and future career could really benefit from studying in the UK. Art and design projects are on show everywhere, from London Zoo to the buses and Tube trains. British and UK trained artists, designers and performers are renowned for their originality and innovation. You could be following in the footsteps of world renowned fashion designers, artists and actors like as Stella McCartney, Anish Kapoor, Damien Hirst or Sasha Baron Cohen.

The UK is a centre of research into areas of Art and Design, to understand trends and the application of new technologies. For example, at Middlesex University ADRI (Art and Design Research Institute) was created in 2007 for research into Electronic Arts, History of Art and Design, Fine Art, Domestic Design and Architecture and general Design. The work of ADRI includes international peer-reviewed publications and major exhibitions with work shown in over 25 countries in areas such as photography and the digital image, innovative development of sonic arts, explorations of location based audio drama with the BBC, interactive guidance for pedestrians with London Transport, globalisation, the role of art and design in developing national cultures and the link between design and developing economies.

There are so many ways in which you can develop your own creative talents in the many art departments of universities and colleges around London and the UK. Choose among art and design subjects, areas of the media like journalism, TV & video production, creative writing, digital media, music, theatre arts and dance. Middlesex University, for example, offers these and more, including sound design, fashion promotion, music & arts management, and games design. The options are vast and varied; the potential is infinite. The range of creative careers is wider than you think. Interested? Go to www.educationuk. org and explore the breadth of degree programmes and universities available.

The European University

Natalia Shustova, EU,
Barcelona campus 

The European University offers bachelors (and postgraduate) programmes in all aspects of management, including business, sports, marketing, HR and finance specialisms. Choose among Switzerland, Spain, Germany, United Kingdom, and Singapore, or several of them, as transfer is encouraged, and teaching courses are co-ordinated across all sites and countries.

Like British university degrees, teaching at “the EU” is all in English and takes only three years to a BA. (Remember that outside England & Wales, most countries require 4+ or 5+ years to get to first degree diploma level). However, unlike most UK courses, no “foundation year” is required and the Russian Attestat is valid for entry immediately. Teaching is in tutorial and small classes, not large lectures. Teaching methods combine traditional Platonic methods of sharing knowledge with Socratic questioning and with business-style detailed case study investigations.

As with international university courses in Moscow, courses are validated and accredited by both national institutions and industry-sector specific organisations. These courses offer a greater degree of internationalism and experience and so add to the range of choices you have, but your parents’ generation did not.

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