United Kingdom

Brief Descriptions

Country : The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Capital : London
Land Area : 243,610 square kilometres
Population : 63.7 million
Dialling Code : +44
National Flower : Rose
Languages : English, Irish, Scots, and Welch
Currency : Pound sterling (GBP)

Introduction

As a couple approach a door, the gentleman opens the door for the lady. As they are crossing a road, he shields her by positioning himself between her and the oncoming vehicle. No, you are not in a Hollywood movie scene but in the United Kingdom (UK), a country whole people practise the 'ladies first' mannerism.
The UK or Britain is an island nation located off the north-western coast of continental Europe over the North Sea and English Channel . It has a temperate climate, with plentiful rainfall all year round. The temperature varies with the seasons seldom dropping below -11°C or rising above 35°C. The UK is a nation of peace, order and good government with social stability and low crime rate. It has a multicultural society whose members are open-minded. It was the first nation to be industrialised and today it is Europe's largest financial centre. The nation's education system is progressing abreast with its advancements in technology and service sectors maintaining its tradition of excellence since the formative years of the Oxford and Cambridge at the beginning of 13th century.

UK Education

Although the United Kingdom, as a sovereign state, is a country, England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are also regarded as countries, though not sovereign states. While the UK government is responsible for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have devolved self-government. Each one of these countries has its own education system.
The education system of England is divided into early years (ages 3-4), primary education (ages 4-11), secondary education (ages 11-18) and tertiary education (ages 18 and above). Over 90 percent of children between the ages of 3 and 18 are in education in state-funded schools without charge. The rest of school children in England attend privately run fee-paying independent schools. England has a long history of higher education. Its tertiary educational institutions offer a compressive range of qualifications of different levels including Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) qualifications, and honours bachelor, master and doctorate degrees.
The UK is one of the world's most popular higher education destinations for international students. Every year, there are more than 400,000 international students studying in the UK, of which more than 300,000 are in England. The UK government provides special care and support to international students from they are applying to studying in the country. This includes allowing international students to enjoy the National Health Service (NHS) as UK residents, which involves many free treatments. You are entitled to NHS if you are studying a course of six months or more in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, or a course of any duration in Scotland.
The UK is the first industrialised country in the world. Since then it has been a world's leader in innovation. It is the birthplace of the world's first turbojet engine, modern computer and cloned mammal -- Dolly. Besides science and technology, the UK is also a world's leader in practically all fields in particular services especially banking and finance, and design such as architecture and fashion. Perpetuating the UK's continuous advancements in all these fields is its world's leading education. Its long history in providing top quality education has led its world-class effective academic accreditation system, which regularly assess all institutions and courses offered in the UK. This has made the UK one of the most trusted and desirable further education destination in the world.

Education, the UK and Malaysia

As the Malaysian education system originated from the UK's, they are similar. Both implement a 13-year primary-secondary system. The SPM and STPM are equivalent to UK's General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE) and A-Level respectively. So, Malaysian students need not worry about delays in fitting in when further study in the UK.
To capitalise on the trend of increasing number of Malaysian students furthering their studies, many UK's institutions have partnered with Malaysian private institutions to offer twinning programmes. The more cost-effective way of getting a UK degree has attracted many Malaysian students to further study in the UK.
International students studying for a Scottish national higher diploma, UK bachelor degree or higher qualification in the UK are permitted to work after their studies for up to two years. This preapproved (application unnecessary) arrangement has enabled many international students to gain valuable work experience in the UK before they return to their home countries. International students studying a bachelor degree or higher programme are permitted to work part time not more than 20 hours in a week during term-time and full time during vacations.

Living in the UK

Food

When studying in the UK, you should taste the authentic local cuisine. Among the most representative dishes are grilled beef with hot Yorkshire pudding, steak kidney pie, and Scottish smoked salmon. A wide variety of liquors such as ale, beer, lager, whiskey, rum and wines, and many types of cheese are readily available in every local pub. The locals' most favourite, which is also popular in Malaysia, is undoubtedly the fish and chip.

Accommodation

You can choose to stay in a on-campus hostel, student apartment, rent a house or home-stay with a family. Rental charge generally varies depending on location and living environment. If you studying in the UK for the first time, the best option is on-campus hostel, where you will readily familiarise with campus life and interact with students from other countries. Most UK institutions provide international students with on-campus accommodation. You usually need to apply for on-campus accommodation during your admission application.

Expenses

If you are an academically excellent student, you may apply for a UK scholarship. Most of the scholarships are offered by the UK government especially the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, universities and foundations, and managed by the British Council. The living expenses of a student are about GBP800 a month. If you are studying a bachelor degree or higher programme, you may consider temporary work (part-time not more than 20 hours in a week during term-time and full-time during vacations) to subsidise your expenses.

Some tips

The following are some tips on mannerism for living in the UK.

  • Men have to observe the manner of 'ladies first'.
  • When meeting for the first time, let the lady or person of higher position extends her or his hand first before shaking hands.
  • Scoop soup from inside out and sip it without making a sound.
  • Don't burp with someone else around.
  • Don't drink coffee or tea with the spoon in the cup, place it on the saucer.
  • Don't smoke at the table.
  • British consider cats bad luck.
  • British also consider 13 bad luck just like the Chinese consider the number 4.

Visa and Permits

Student visa processing takes about five days. If interview is necessary, it will take longer. If you are staying six months or longer in the UK to study your course, you need to obtain the British residence permit (UKRP) from the UK Visa Application Centre. UKRP is unnecessary if you are staying less than six months.