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What are the common challenges faced by international students studying in universities in the UK?
Reply 1
Original post by lifecoachakshay
What are the common challenges faced by international students studying in universities in the UK?

As someone who's studied with international students at Uni and then supported STEM students employability for the past ~5 years, I met a fair amount of international students.
Here are my thoughts:

Cost of higher education is 3 times as more expensive compared to home students (£9K vs. £25K+ a year)

No access to loans, therefore must pay upfront for everything - the education, accommodation, bills, transport, etc.

The two points above means an average international student either comes from a rather wealthy family (£75K-£100K is a LOT of money here, now imagine what that is outside of the UK especially since you have to pay up) or they come from an upper middle class family and now they must work part time (max 20hrs/week by the immigration law) while studying the degree to afford to live here.

Language barrier (duh). No matter how well one have studied English language in their home country, it's still going to be a challenge. Most international students struggle the most in their 1st year because of that until their speaking skills improve.

The point above impacts their ability to make friends if the international student is also shy and introverted. Outgoing extroverted people don't suffer from language barrier in that regard that much.

Any cockup (failed lecture attendance, failed exams, not enough money to pay bills, global political issues, not able to find graduate job, etc.) and you have to pack your stuff and go back home within a few weeks of notice instantly losing all your progress so far.

Feeling homesick. Although doesn't impact everyone, it definitely is a problem for some international students who have left their family and friends behind. To exacerbate this even more, for some international students this will be the first time they are left on their own. You also can't just go and visit your family when you want, you have to plan ahead and book expensive flights.

Cultural shock - especially for international students from non-western countries.

Brits decided to drive on the wrong side of the road for some reason :tongue:


To summarise, worst case scenario here is an international student who's parents somehow managed to come by with a huge pile of money to let their child study and live in the UK for 3-4 years (that's a heavy moral weight on the young student's shoulders already), they have to work a minimal wage part time job to literally afford the necessities (that is also -20hrs/week on social/fun activities or -20hrs/week on time otherwise could've been spent studying), the international student is most likely falling behind their studies by 10-30% due to language barrier (some of them say they couldn't understand half of what they were taught in the lectures) and due to less time available in the week because they have a part time job, the student is also stressed out in the new environment where it's much harder for them to make friends.
That's quite a lot of stress if you ask me.
(edited 11 months ago)
Original post by lifecoachakshay
What are the common challenges faced by international students studying in universities in the UK?


As an international student initially you will experience difficulties and challenges, from cultural shock to understanding the UK weather, the food, the customs and social norms. It may be complex at the start, so give yourself time to get into the culture.
The most common challenge students face is academic demand - the UK's academic structure is very different from that of your country. The teaching methods are very different and would require you to have more of an independent study and will be more research-oriented alongside meeting the deadline. You will need to understand the rigorous academic standard and also the complex assignments sometimes can be daunting. But there are academic support and services offered by the university which you can take help to overcome these challenges. Apart from that financial demand could also be some of the challenges due to the increase in the cost of living, things are getting a little expensive but you can always have part-time jobs for your living.

Alongside, students also may feel homesick due to cultural differences. Being away from family and friends can be sometimes challenging but it is worth networking with people and making new friends.
Things initially will be difficult but give yourself time and you will be all fine eventually and it will be worth it :smile:
Reply 3
I thought this was a general discussion, didn't realise you may have been asking this because you're thinking about coming to the UK to study a degree.
Please don't take my comments above negatively. As the rep above mentioned, it's not without it's challenges especially in the very beginning, but it's definitely worth it! :top:
(edited 11 months ago)

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