Many African students dream of traveling to the UK to attend university. They’re excited about the multicultural glamour and fine art of London, or the wild, barren reaches of Scotland or Wales. If this is your dream, you’re probably wondering how to achieve it.
Here are a few tips from the experts. We spoke with officials from the international student office at several universities, and here’s there advice. Before you apply to a program, here are some questions to consider.
Am I qualified for this program?
Every university course has entry requirements. The requirements are designed to choose students who will be the most successful. Research the program and course requirements online or in the university prospectus. Remember that the requirements are there for a reason. It’s not going to do much good for you to enroll in Advanced Algebra, if you’ve never studied Basic Algebra.
Usually the entrance requirements will be described in terms of UK exams as grades such as A* (A-star, the highest grade), A, B, C, D, E, F, or G. Often they will be described in terms of a Tariff point score. The Tariff point system is used by UCAS to help universities to compare students. An A –Level exam score of A* counts as 120 points on the Tariff point scale, for example. Each university sets its own requirements for Tariff points. For example, one university might require 240 points for entrance, while another might require 260 points.
Will this university accept my diploma, certificate or qualifications?
Unfortunately, there is no standard for international students throughout the UK. Every university sets its own standards. Some will accept your secondary school certificate, and some will not. Those that won’t, will likely require that you take British A-Level exams, which you can study for and take online. Contact the international student’s office at the schools you are interested, and ask if they will accept your qualifications.
What are my English scores like?
If English is not your first language, you’ll probably need to pass a test. Every UK university sets its own requirements for admission, and they vary widely. Unfortunately, there are over a dozen different English tests that may be accepted. If you already have high scores on the TOEFL, ESOL or another test, ask if they will accept that. If not, research schools online to find a school that will accept your test scores – or test again.
Should I take a gap year?
Gap years are becoming increasingly common in the UK. If it’s good enough for Prince William, it’s good enough for you, right? A gap year is a year off between secondary school and university. In past generations, wealthy Englishmen spent their gap year traveling throughout Europe. Today, young people of all classes take gap years. They often work or pursue a special interest during their gap.
For an international student, the gap year allows you to study English or brush up on any academic areas that you might be weak in. If you need to study for British exams such as the A-Levels, this is the perfect time to do so.
If you applied to UK universities and weren’t accepted during your last year of secondary school, consider applying again. Often, if your grades were good in your final year, you’ll be accepted. You’ll be showing school administrators what you have accomplished, instead of what you might accomplish.
Give some thought to these questions, and then figure out the best way to make your dreams of a prestigious UK education come true.