In a post-pandemic era, education abroad can seem more uncertain than it may have been before COVID-19. In particular, students who were caught unawares while pursuing their education in far-flung countries struggled, and came to realize certain self-evident truths. This has led to a higher degree of awareness amongst potential students including the necessity to have a much better understanding of potential universities and their own personal education and lifestyle requirements.

In this informative piece, we hope to make the reader understand the proverbial bigger picture when the choice of education destination is between the countries of the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA).

1.      Culture

Nowadays, students understand the significance of having social interactions and culturally diverse experiences when studying abroad. The ability to approach a lecturer or classmate and have wide-ranging discussions on a field of study or interest is just as important as the courses they may be attending.

The UK gives students potentially more cultural diversity thanks to the proximity of mainland Europe. In addition to being able to visit places like Germany, Portugal, or Ireland, students can also expect a large variety of nationalities and cultures in their colleges. That said, as mentioned later on in this article, students may indeed be time and system-limited in their opportunities to travel thanks to the education system and degree period of the country. Briefly, the UK tends to have shorter degree courses at 3 years (for UG) or 1 year (PG), depending on the course.

On average, a student will experience multiple cuisines, living styles, nationalities, and from across the socio-economic strata – more so than in the USA, with the possible exception of the very top universities.

2.      Shorter Degrees

As was briefly mentioned in the previous section, the UK education system is inclined to provide more focused degrees with each College having its specialty and students are therefore normally studying 3-year undergraduate degrees or 1-year post-graduate degrees.

The UK may also provide slightly different academic terms, with a higher average time per year spent studying than when compared to the USA. This may differ depending on courses and colleges but the natural result from this difference between the two countries’ education systems takes us to the next section.

3.      Potentially Cheaper

Now it is significant to note the degree and university that a student is applying for but on average, the UK tends to be a cheaper option while still providing 50% of the top 200 schools in the world.

The USA, when factoring in the time of the study, can be more costly, although students must not forget to think about the course of study, and the reputation of the college or school for their field of expertise, before making a final decision.

4.      University Organization Styles

By now, most students may be aware, but one usually studies in a ‘college’ in the UK or a ‘school’ in the USA, which are within the overall umbrella and governance of a larger ‘university’.

A College within the UK specializes in a particular subject and is largely autonomous from the University. Students due to 1-year degrees tend to spend most of their time with classmates from the same college during the year. 

However, in this particular question, it is imperative to note that the USA offers 4-year undergraduate degrees that allow the student to decide on a major in their second year, whereas in the UK, it would be wise for students to have decided on their specific field of study before joining a College, as each one is specialized.

5.      Style of Education & Academic Terms

The USA with its ‘electives’ system could provide students with a larger variety and breadth of education than the UK with its more focus and depth.

Therefore, students may be studying Engineering but will need to take up a course at some point in their studies, such as liberal arts. In the UK, however, a student would take classes only in their College.

Further in the UK, many colleges may follow a semester system or trimester or quarter system that may start at different times of the year. The USA usually has a style of education with schools or universities starting the year in August and following a semester system with the odd exception.

6.      Accommodation

It is more likely for a student in the UK to have a room to themselves from the first year onwards, than in the USA where they may be expected to share a room with at least one person.

While the US university may occasionally have off-campus housing, it is generally available for students in the UK. The average American university does provide some support in finding off-campus accommodation from the 2nd year of study.

In addition, the US university generally provides a full range of dining options for students while the UK dormitories are usually self-catered. Alternatively, a student in the UK may find the convenience of regular maid services in the residence halls of colleges, than those in the USA, although they may be expected to pay a nominal fee.

7.      Migration to Host Countries

Although largely similar in visa rules and governance systems within the two countries, students may find the US immigration policies for international students harder than in the UK.

Further, the US rules tend to provide a graduating student with 3 months to find a job with an additional 12 months to work in the country. This is more restrictive when compared to the UK where all students are allowed a period of 24 months to stay back and work. The side effect of this, however, is that there may be more competition for students applying for immigration visas in the UK.

The UK does all allow students an equal chance with more time to get experience abroad while they consider their next professional decisions. The USA visa rules tend to be more inclined to students who even admit to wanting to stay back after their degree is achieved.

To Sum Up

So, is the UK a better country for students from India and elsewhere than the USA for an education? That question would depend on the individual student’s educational requirements, budgets, personal needs, etc. For a student who has decided on a course of study and can find a good college, the UK might suit better due to time of study, experiences, cost, accommodation, migration policies, etc.

So, decide on a field of study, research which universities offer the best programs, check eligibility to apply, consider the costs involved to live and study, and make sure immigration policies align with future professional plans.