Why I chose the UK for Law
I chose to obtain a law degree from the United Kingdom for several reasons. First of all, the United Kingdom’s academic institutions have a good reputation. These institutions offer degrees recognised all over the world and there are plenty of opportunities for postgraduate studies and career development.
Secondly, it is a great chance to master the English language and learn more about British culture through experiencing it first-hand.
Research the UK university system…
Before I came to the UK, I did plenty of information gathering on the UK’s education system and entry requirements for international students. The internet was the most useful tool in my research, and after trawling through hundreds of websites I found two of the most useful sites to be UCAS and the British Council.
Courses in the UK differ from each other in respect of the quality of teaching, the location, entry requirements and prestige. The studies leading to the awarding of the first academic law degree usually last for three years, while in my country, Poland, the majority of law courses last for five years. In order to become a lawyer (solicitor, barrister or other legal profession) you must accomplish the practice course, which in Poland takes from three to five years.
The application process…
To be considered for admission to an undergraduate program in a British university I had to meet minimum eligibility criteria. For Polish students this included:
- Successful completion of the Matura, with good grades in relevant subjects. My Matura was assessed on individual merit, together with my academic performance from the Polish university I attended.
- In addition, I had to submit official transcripts of my Matura translated into English and showing the subjects and grades obtained. I assume this must be the same for other qualifications from other parts of the world.
The next stage was to satisfy the universities’ English language requirements. In my case, TOLES [Test of Legal English Skills] Advance was taken into account.
The cost of university in the UK…
For many students, the cost of studying is very important. This includes: accommodation, living costs and tuition fees.
The standard tuition fee for England for full-time UK and EU undergraduates is around £7,000 to £9,000 a year for the LLB. There are many other ways of funding like tuition fee loans, grants or scholarships. Full-time EU (non-UK) students can defer their tuition fee payment by applying to the Student Loans Company for a tuition fee loan. The loan allows you to defer the payment of your tuition fees and means that you do not need to pay fees whilst studying. Postgraduate courses tend to be pricier.
Paying for a UK course as an international student
Many of the international students who come to study in the UK pay privately. Non-EU students should expect to pay in the region of £9,000 to £15,000 per academic year (or sometimes more for some institutions) and it should also be noted that getting funding as a non-EU national can be particularly difficult, but the British Council should be able to give you some advice.
Before travelling to the UK, I had to have all my financial arrangements, including living costs and accommodation, sorted. The reality is that living in the UK is very different to Poland and the majority of other countries.
Adjusting to life in the UK
The first thing I noticed were the transport costs; bus and train services are much more expensive. Things like food and other basics were far more pricier than in Poland. On the other hand, you can take advantage of many student discounts in high street shops, cinemas and other places. In order to do that, I had to obtain NUS card from my university’s Students’ Union.
There are many differences between Polish and UK Universities. The UK Universities have a long tradition of welcoming international students and make a special effort to make them feel at home.
I have found that the educational approach is focused more on practical issues rather than theories of particular subject. In Poland students have to read and memorize thousands of paragraphs from the code of law, but they do not have ability to use this knowledge in a working environment. The aim in the UK education system is to prepare student for successful professional career after they have graduated.