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Challenges That International Students Face in the UK

The United Kingdom is one of the hotspots for international students seeking an excellent education in any field of study. The UK comprises four countries: England, Wales, Scotland and North Ireland.

Challenges That International Students Face in the UK

It has been one of the most common choices of students worldwide for many years.

Hence, if you desire to study in the UK, you are safe, as you can eliminate undue worry since the procedures for application are well established.

However, as with any relocation event, there are common challenges that international students face in the UK, and we highlight them in this article.

Why Study in the UK

As we have said, the United Kingdom is one of the most sought-after places for international students seeking quality education.

Students choose to study in the UK for several reasons, and they include:

  1. High-Quality Learning Experience

Universities within the UK have a history of offering quality education, with the schools ranking at the top of most global universities league tables.

Besides having very conducive learning environments, most universities in the UK possess highly efficient academia and faculties.

All these parameters make the Universities of the UK an excellent and common choice for international students.

  1. Experience a Unique Culture

International students, especially those from Asian and African countries, choose to study in the UK to experience a culture that differs from the culture in their native countries.

Also, the opportunity to study in the UK allows international students to observe an environment that seems to have an excellent and effective working system governing the various sectors of the United Kingdom.

  1. Respected by Employers

One of the perks of studying in the UK is the fact that employers around the world have regard for the certificates from the universities.

Due to the high-quality education students are exposed to in the UK, employers are assured of getting individuals with the skill set to offer the best in every job.

  1. Cost

International students studying for an undergraduate degree in the UK do so in 3/4 years. Postgraduate degrees are usually done in a year.

This means that students generally spend less on tuition. Furthermore, the cost of living is cheaper than that of most countries, including the USA.

  1. Work and Study Opportunities

Students in the UK are allowed to work at least 20 hours a week while studying.

These opportunities help international students earn money to afford necessities and become options for students to gain employment after studying.

Challenges That International Students Face in the UK

Studying in the UK has its perks. However, it does not hide the fact that there are challenges that international students face in the UK.

These challenges may manifest in various forms and differ from person to person. Here are some of the most common challenges:

Weather Challenges

International students from Asian and African countries are used to hot climates with weather temperatures that are relatively high compared to the climate of the UK, even in the cold parts of the year.

This challenges students, especially at the beginning of their study period.

Together with a change in time zone, the change in climate puts both mental and physiological strain on the students.

Cultural Shock

We mentioned the pull to experience a new culture as one of the reasons some people choose to study in the UK.

However, for many international students, this change comes as a shock. As no two cultures are similar, the introduction to the way and manner things are done in the UK can be world-shaking for some people.

Norms such as greetings, pronunciations, and how people are addressed can present a challenging and embarrassing experience before international students acclimate to UK culture.


This is a foremost challenge for many international students, as many come from countries with poorer economies than the UK.

Without sufficient funding from their families back home, they have to devise means to live meagerly, with budgets that barely afford necessities such as rent, food, and books.

Difficulty in Getting Jobs

Akin to the finance challenge is that most international students need help getting paying jobs to ease their financial stress.

Full-time international students with UK study visas can work at least 20 hours per week during school and then full-time during holidays.

However, most companies require people who will be full-time staff whenever an opening comes up.

Balancing work and study is one of the challenges international students face in the UK.

Accommodation Challenge

One of the challenges that international students face in the UK while studying is the issue of affordable accommodation.

Most universities are located close to large cities with relatively high housing costs.

These students also find it difficult to get houses with laundry and internet facilities, making their initial months very challenging.

Language Barriers

Another common challenge international students face in the UK is the language issue.

Most international students come from countries where English is not spoken as a first language. Hence, they face communication challenges when they first come to the UK.

Due to this barrier, basic things like ordering food, asking directions, or answering questions become a challenge.

There is also the strangeness associated with learning a new language that these students have to cope with. It is quite challenging.

Homesickness and Social Integration

Yes! Homesickness is one of the challenges that international students face in the UK.

If you have relocated before, you will understand how emotionally straining the experience can be, especially if it takes you far from family and friends.

International students are prone to homesickness as they are in strange environments surrounded by strangers.

Hence, they are very lonely before they start to socialize and befriend other students. This period is an emotional downtime for them and quite a challenge.

Furthermore, they may not be familiar with the social places and norms in the United Kingdom, which further isolates them.

How to Apply to Study in UK as an International Student

The process for applying to study in the United Kingdom follows a very simple guideline

The process includes the following steps:

Decide on a university or college and course

This is the first step. Studying in the UK allows international students to gain skills and knowledge that make them professionals, most times with global influence.

Hence, students must first choose a course they are passionate and gifted in. Furthermore, they should research the UK’s top schools that offer such courses.

Apply to the Institution


Applying for undergraduate courses in the UK is easy for international students.

All undergraduate applications are done through one body – UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service.

Students can visit the UCAS website and fill out the application form.


Applications for postgraduate courses differ from those of undergraduate courses, as most schools in the UK handle their postgraduate applications directly.

Accept your offer

The university or college chosen by international students contacts them via email to notify them if their offer has been accepted or rejected.

Using UCAS makes the process of monitoring applications easier for students.

Some offers of admission are unconditional, while others are conditional, needing students to fulfil some obligations before admission is fully granted.

Some courses require that students be interviewed as part of their application process. Thus, it is necessary to know the course information to be adequately prepared.

Arrange funding

Proper means of funding are required to ease the financial burden for international students wishing to study in the United Kingdom.

Students can check out several scholarship offers available and find out if they possess the eligibility requirements so that they can apply.

Apply for a visa

Of course, international students require a visa to study in the UK. Hence, they are to apply for a visa (UK study visa) from the UK embassy in their country of origin.

Prepare for Your Stay

After getting your visa, it is time to pack.

Arrangements for flight tickets, accommodation and resumption should be made promptly and correctly.

Scholarships Available for International Students in the UK

Several scholarship opportunities are available to ease the financial challenge of international students in the UK.

Some of them include:

A.S. Hornby Trust Scholarship

This scholarship is available for English language tutors who desire to improve their English Language skill set.

International students from several countries are eligible for the scholarship.

Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan

This scholarship program is for master’s and doctoral courses.

There are options for studying in the United Kingdom or distance learning. The program also comes with professional medical and academic fellowships.

Only students from Commonwealth countries are eligible for this program.

GREAT Scholarships

This program is for a master’s degree within one year in a range of courses at several schools in the UK.

British Council Scholarships for Women in STEM

The program is specifically for women. It helps those undertaking master’s degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics courses.

It can be done at any one of 19 UK universities. Female students from South Eastern and Southern Asia and the Americas can apply.

Country-specific scholarships

  • Young Cell Scheme
  • Charles Wallace Pakistan Trust Scholarships
  • Marshall Scholarship
  • Marshall Sherfield Fellowships
  • Euraxess UK
  • Royal Society grants


These challenges international students face in the UK are just experiences that make studying more thrilling, whether in England, Wales, Scotland or North Ireland.

They can become hilarious stories that people can share about in the future.

Therefore, apply to some of the universities in the UK as well as scholarship programs to also create your own fun experience.

Ensure you share this article with your friends and loved ones. Cheers.

Is the UK Difficult for International Students?

Although the UK is a welcoming place for international students, adjusting to cultural differences such as food, social norms, and daily life may still be a challenge.

Is the UK Still a Viable Destination for Higher Education Despite Inflation?

The United Kingdom still holds an allure for International investigators despite the hike in the cost of living due to the high global inflation rate.

How Competitive Is It Really for International Students to Find Jobs In

It is very competitive and challenging as many UK employers are concerned with visa regulations, especially as most do not understand the regulations themselves.

How Long Can International Students Stay In UK After Graduation?

2 years.

What Happens if an International Student Fails in the UK?

When an international student does not attend the first 60 days of a semester or fails a summer exam and does not retake it, they must return to their country of origin.
The school informs the Home Office, who may cancel your visa.
A short-term study visa is required to come back and retake the exam.

Is It Easier to Get Accepted as an International Student in the UK?

Yes! Most Universities are very welcoming and have a higher acceptance rate for international students than local students.

Why Studying in the UK Is Better Than Other Countries?

This is because schools in the UK have a better standard of education and are ranked high in the universities’ ranking platform.

Which Country in the UK Is Cheapest for International Students?

Wales, with the capital city of Cardiff being the most affordable city for international students.

Can I Switch From a Student Visa to a Work Visa in the UK?

Yes, you can do so. You can change a tier 4 Student Visa to a Skilled Worker Visa if you have completed your course of study.

How Often Do UK Student Visas Get Rejected?

The average rejection rate for UK student visas is 3% -5%.

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