Insight: The Educational Pathway of a Student Pursuing UK-based Qualifications

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The UK has a history dating back to the Roman Empire where the population within the UK has Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, and Scandinavian origins. Currently, the UK is home to residents from all over the world where ethnic groups in terms of percentage of the full population are provided in Image 1.
The UK which is also known as Great Britain is comprised of the home nations of England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland with an approximate population of 60 million. The city of London is the capital of the UK. The UK has also seen a growth in international students that have relocated to the UK to pursue studies at Higher Education institutions (HEI). The growth of international student numbers from 2014 to the academic year of 2020/21 is illustrated in Image 2.

As demonstrated in Image 2, in between the academic years 2019/20 and 2020/21 alone there has been an increase of just under 50,000 international students enrolling on UK university courses. The number of international students entering the UK in terms of individual home nations is illustrated in Image 3.

As shown in Image 3, the home nation for majority of the international students enrolling on UK based HEI programmes has been highlighted as China where India, Nigeria and the United States are highlighted as the other nations from which students have travelled to the UK.


From the perspective of international students looking to enter UK HEIs, the pre-requisites to enter different degree courses vary based on the applicant and institution. However, there are requirements which are common in the case for most HEIs where one of the main requirements is students’ competency in the English language. The most common tests or recognitions for demonstrating the required English speaking and writing ability are Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), International English Language Testing System (IELTS) and the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate (UCLES).


In addition to demonstrating an understanding of English, UK HEIs require international applicants to demonstrate that they have achieved the equivalence of the GCSE/A level requirements for undergraduate courses or the equivalence of undergraduate/postgraduate courses to enrol on postgraduate or doctorate programmes.


However, universities offer foundation year courses to allow international students to overcome any deficits they may encounter in enrolling on HEI courses. Contacting the course administrator for a given course may aid students in clarifying the entry requirements as per the education system in their home country. Below is an image that explains the flow of a student’s educational journey with a UK-based HEI:

The application procedure for international students looking to be considered for a UK HEI based course is through the University and Colleges Admission Service (UCAS). Here the students need to register and then apply for courses online where students are able to apply for up to 5 universities. The deadline for applications is normally around the end of January each year where students can apply to be considered for additional universities through the clearing process (normally around June 30th to September 30th every year). The key requirements of the UCAS application are as follows:

• Test scores and requirements the University has for international students.
• A personal statement.
• A reference letter.
• Payment to UCAS.

The UCAS website and the international office for UK universities can be used as key resources by international students looking to enrol on a degree programme based in the UK. It should be noted that pursuing a degree qualification in the UK can be a costly proposition for international students where undergraduate course fees can typically start from £10,000 per annum in addition to visa, travel and accommodation costs. However, in recent years there have been more cost effective alternative routes for achieving UK university degrees introduced in the education market. Institutions like Westford University College (WUC) & Westford Uni Online (based in the UAE) offer UK university undergraduate and postgraduate courses through the online/blended learning teaching methods. For example, students can enrol on B Sc. and MBA programmes for universities like Cardiff Metropolitan University and Liverpool John Moore University where these courses can be attended online or onsite. Pursuing these courses either online or onsite at WUC may be a more attractive option in terms of cost for students from the Asian subcontinent and Nigeria in comparison to travelling, living, and studying in the UK. Furthermore, Westford offers degree programs in the UK, providing British students with the opportunity to realize their full potential and pursue their aspirations.

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