The birthplace of English, the UK is the most popular destination for learing English. Forty percent of students who study English in an English speaking
country come here. Consisting of England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales, the population is slightly over sixty million, eight million living
in the capital, London. There are a huge number of course options for students as well as a wealth of history and culture to explore.
From bustling London to the peaceful highlands of Scotland and everything in between it's not hard to see why the UK is the most popular option. It also
has the longest history of teaching English and thousands of schools to choose from.
Private English schools that are approved by the British Council
are guaranteed to meet high quality standards. Whereas English courses in universities and colleges are inspected by the government to ensure standards are adequate.
Under the law all students from outside the European Economic Area require a student visa. If you wish to study your English schools must be approved by the
government. Accreted language schools are listed on the The Register of Education and Training Providers
where you can search for legitimate language schools. The register does not guarantee the quality of English courses.
These are not to be confused with universities. Courses here are taken before entering a full time of part time university course.
The birthplace of Newton, Darwin, Shakespeare and the Beatles, the United Kingdom's cultural influences reach far beyond the shores of the British Isles. At it's height the British Empire covered a quarter of the world's land surface and the influence is still seen around the world, most noticeably with the English language. As well as the English language, the television and telephone were invented here.
The most obvious thing about the UK is the "pub culture." Everything from birthday celebrations to business meetings take place in pubs in the UK. If pubs are not your thing then there is still a huge range of activities to choose from. The UK has a huge selection of museums to visit, many of them free as well as a vibrant living history of music and theatre. Traditional British reserve has also changed in recent years and while not as warm and outgoing as their European neighbours with a little effort it is possible to make friends.
The UK's climate is a temperate maritime climate. The Gulf Stream ensures mild, maritime influenced weather. The UK is famous for it's rain. In West Coast Scotland receives as much as 2,500mms of rain a year though inland and further south it can be as low as 500mms.
In England the coldest time is between December, and February, when the temperature is usually between 3 and 6°C. In July and August, the temperature averages between 16 and 21°C. Rain falls all year, and the weather in England can sometimes change very quickly. Especially in autumn and winter strong Atlantic low-pressure systems can cause heavy wind and storms.
In Scotland the temperatures are generally lower than in the other parts of the UK. Temperate winters and cool summers are typical. Low temperatures, however, are common in the Highlands, where the weather conditions are somertimes very harsh with gales and heavy rainfall, or blizzard conditions in the winter.
On the west coast conditions are milder than in the east. Generally, further South East there is more sunshine and less rain as the influence of the continental European air system has more effect.
The south and south-east of England are exposed to the continental tropical air mass of warm, dry air.
Wales and the south-west of England are exposed to the maritime tropical air mass of warm moist air.
Northern Ireland and the west of Scotland are exposed to the maritime polar air mass, which brings cool moist air.
The east of Scotland and north-east England are exposed to the continental polar air mass, which brings cold dry air.
You can find more information on the UK's weather at the
Met Office website.
The Pound (£) is the legal currency in the UK. The Euro is accepted by some shops, usually where there is a lot of tourism, but this is not the norm and the rates you are offered on purchases are not good.
The UK is one of the most expensive options for studying English but you once you become more familiar with things you will find it much easier to budget. There are cheaper eating and drinking options everywhere and a huge amount of activities (such as museums) that cost nothing. For accommodation, food and entertainment you should budget around £250 per week, though £200 would be enough to survive.
It is very difficult to open a bank account in the UK. The banks will need a letter from your school confirming that your programme is for at least a year and a confirmation of your UK address such as a utility bill (water, gas, electricity or telephone). If you are new to the UK you will not have utility bills immediately on your arrival. If you are staying in a homestay or subletting you may never have a utility bill.
Many schools will have agreements with banks that allow students to open a bank account if studying for less than a year. This information is available on the individual school websites.
Students from the European Union find it less difficult to open a bank account, though many banks will demand a utility bill as proof of address.
It is possible to use your home country banking facilities to arrange money transfers and pay for school fees. Internet banking and credit cards make it much easier to bank while away from home. It is worth enquiring if your own bank can open an account for you in the UK, though occassionally, banks will require a large deposit.
The easiest way to open a bank account is to open an account with a British bank in your home country and ask what services are available before leaving home.
HSBC provides this service from most countries.
Another option is to purchase a 'bank account set-up' package from a travel company before you leave home. This makes it much easier to open a bank account once you arrive. This avoids problems by arranging everything and ensuring you are able to open a bank account, with a well-established bank, as soon as you arrive. It's very easy and saves you time when you arrive, but it is more expensive and only available to citizens of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Canada, America and EU Passport holders at this time.
Traveltowork.co.uk is a banking service that enables you to open a bank account from most countries before you leave home.
Two other options for opening a bank account are 1st Contact and Visa First run by well known UK companies with offices in the UK and Australia. They cost ($75 AUD / Approx 35 Euro) and do not need a minimum amount for a deposit. Both use major high street banks like Barclays and HSBC.
In restaurants and cafes a 10% tip is normal, unless the service is included. Outside of restaurants tipping in the UK is not expected in
many cases and is always at the customers' discretion. In some bars and cafes a tip jar is left on the counter or change is returned on a tipping tray.
If you would like to leave a tip it will be appreciated but is not obligatory as it is in the US. In some cases people tip taxis or hairdressers (a pound
or two), though if you do not it will not be acknowledged.
Many students come to the UK wishing to work. The low rate of unemployment and high demand for service industry workers make it an obvious choice for part time work.
The most popular industries for foreign workers is tourism, followed by construction. In tourism more than half the workers are non nationals.
Another popular option, especially for women, is working as an au pair. This allows you to reduce the costs of study, earn some money and enjoy more free time than other jobs allow.
The main ways to find a job are mass media, calling in personally, referrals from friends & workmates. Around 80% of job seekers find work this way. The remaining 20% find work through agencies. If you rely solely on agents to find employment you are cutting yourself off from 80% of available work. For lower level part time work the easiest way is to check news paper advertisements and to call into appropriate businesses with copies of your C.V. For many jobs where you deal with the public you have a higher chance of being contacted if your photo is included on your C.V. (this can be done on a computer before printing).
If you are looking for office work or more specialize work some employers will only use agents. This is the cheapest way to look for a job as you can send your C.V. directly by email to several agents. No agent should charge your for this service (it is illegal to do so) as the costs are covered by the employer.
For specialized work agents who deal in specific areas can be found at the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC)
The minimum wage in the UK is £3.40 per hour if you are under 18 , £4.60 per hour if you are 18 to 21 years old and £5.52 is you are over 22.
If you are working as an au pair or a job that provides accommodation this can be reduced.
More information can be fournd at the UK Customs website.
Some websites for job seekers;
Sliversoftime.com is a governement sponsored service enabling you to register and sell your available working hours on-line.
The laws and regulations for working can be found at Border and Immigration Agency website.
For citizens of some countries a student visa is required before coming to the UK. According to the application procedure it is necessary to pay for your course fees before traveling to the UK. If you have decided to study in the UK the first step is to choose a course, then apply for a visa. The visa application can be done on-line, by post or in person. Information on the process is available from the British Embassy. Counties with on-line application proceedures can be found at the UK Visa website.
The best and most up to date source for information will be the British Embassy or Consulate in your country.
Visa Application Procedure
Contact the school or complete an on-line booking form listing the type of course and the exact dates the course begins and ends.
The school will request payment. After you pay for your course the school will send notification acknowledging the payment and course dates.
You then apply to your local British Embassy or Consulate with the necessary documents, listed below. If there is no British Embassy or Consulate in your country the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London will inform you of where to make a visa application.
The documents required for an entry visa depend on the country. Check with your local embassy to make sure which are necessary. Usually these include;
The Entry Clearance Officer will try to make a decision using your application form and the supporting documents you have provided. If this is not possible, they will need to interview you.
After April 2008 biometric data will be required for a visa application to be processed. This information will be gathered at British Visa Application Centres.
Further Information on Visa Process
If you arrive in the UK on a tourist visa and wish to extend the length or your stay you must apply for a visa in your home country which means leaving the UK and re-entering.
The maximum period to remain in the UK for part time courses is two years. If you wish to stay longer you will have to do a degree course.
General Information on Visa Process
The granting of a visa is a form of pre-entrance clearance. It does not grant permission to enter the UK. Immigration Officers have authority to grant or deny admission. Visa holders are subject to normal immigration control at the port of entry. They should therefore carry with them, for possible presentation to Immigration Officers, the originals or copies of the documents submitted with their visa applications and suitable letters from their chosen place of study.
The length of stay is decided by an Immigration Officer at the port of entry.
Travel Tickets should not be booked or paid for by applicants until their applications have been approved.
Homestays in the UK are usually of good quality. Occasionally during high season students are sent to homestays which are more interested in financial gain than accommodating a foreign student, putting restrictions on bathroom time and offering low quality meals. This is mostly isolated to Southern England and London. If you have a problem with your homestay, you should inform your school as soon as possible.
Cost: £100 - £200 per week (depending on school and area)
Residential accommodation in the UK is plentiful, but expensive (especially in Southern England). There are numerous websites for renting and sharing, but it can be difficult to find short term residential accommodation.
Hotels, Hostels and B&B
Most schools will be able to provide you with a list of near-by recommended establishments, that offer discounted rates.
Some websites for finding accommodation are;
If you have problems with your land lord there are a number of agencies who can help your resolve the issues or explain your legal options.
In the UK your deposit is protected by law. If you have a dispute with your landlord you can appeal the decision. Therefore, when you move into your accommodation it is a good idea to take photos, especially of areas that need attention.
Mobile telephones can be brought into the UK. Customers with subscriptions to GSM services, providing they have a roaming agreement with the Irish network operator(s) may use their subscription. Pay-as-you-go mobile phones or SIM cards can also be purchased on arrival in many airports.
There are four main providers of mobile phone services in UK.
Calls cost around 30p per minute but this depends on which network you choose and which plan you are on.
We are in the process of recruiting a team of writers to write content for a travel and tourism website.
This is a work from home position. The salary is on a sliding scale based on performance which should be between $200USD to $400USD a month after the training period.
Those interested should send an email to jobs@TRAVBLA.com with 100 to 150 words explaining their educational background and experience. Do not attach any documents as due to time constraints it will not be possible to review CVs for the first round. On acceptance candidates will be asked to perform a test (approximately one hour) to assess their writing and research ability.