Tag Archives: UKCISA

Our final blog entry

Christmas treeAs you may have seen, Prepare for Success is no longer being updated. We wanted to give the project a proper send-off with a final blog post!

We’ve had over 2.6 million visits from 236 countries and territories since the site was launched. The site will be staying live but will be archived, so no further updates will be made and the Question Wall is no longer being used.

We’d like to thank UKCISA for supporting the site over the past 12 years, and we’d also like to thank everyone who has used, recommended and promoted the site since we first went live in July 2008.

If you would like to find out more about the resources we create, please take a look at the eLanguages website, or email us at elang1@soton.ac.uk.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas and goodbye from us!
Andrew and the eLanguages team

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Photo competition – International students: changing lives

International students: changing livesTo celebrate UKCISA‘s 50th year of supporting international students, they’re inviting you to enter a photo competition to show some of the excitement, achievements and surprises you’ve faced and how studying in the UK can change lives. They’re welcoming photographs that illustrate any aspect of studying in the UK. Themes include excitement, challenges, hopes for the future and surprises. A full list and further details are available at https://ukcisa.org.uk/competition

How do I enter?

Submit a photo and accompanying statement about what the image represents and how it demonstrates life in the UK as an international student. The photo must be the original file (to ensure printable quality) and in landscape format. Send us your entry by 5pm on 30th October 2017. Those judged to be the best 12 will be featured in a 2018 printed calendar to be sent to all of UKCISA’s university and college members.

The 12 winners will also receive:

  • a £50 Amazon voucher
  • a copy of the calendar
  • a ‘UKCISA Certificate of Commendation’
  • an invitation to our anniversary reception event in 2018 (date TBC)

The best 50 photos and stories will be featured on ukcisa.org.uk throughout 2018. Read the full details and enter!

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Student questions on the Prepare for Success Question Wall

The Prepare for Success Question WallThis month’s blogpost addresses three questions posted recently by international students on the Prepare for Success Questions Wall:

The first is from Mehmush. Mehmush is an Iranian student, who is currently living and working as a nurse in Italy and who wants to apply for a Masters degree programme in the UK.

The first step in applying for any postgraduate degree programme is to inform yourself about what is available in the area you are interested in. There are some online search portals that can be a useful starting point such as the Masters Portal or Masters Compare. However, you should always follow this step by searching for more detailed information on the university websites of the Masters programmes you are interested in and/or by contacting their Admissions office to request a brochure about the courses you are interested in. Once you are in contact with the university’s admissions office you can also ask about costs, possible scholarships and the exact procedure to apply for the course you choose.

The second question is from a student planning to study in Glasgow and who is wondering where the best place to live is – in halls of residence or in the city?

This is a dilemma that many international students have as there are pros and cons for both living in a university hall of residence or sharing a house or flat with others in the local community. Many universities will offer international students a guaranteed place in a hall of residence to save you the trouble of searching for private accommodation. Others will have an accommodation office, which can help in the search for private accommodation. The situation will be different from one city to another but here are some points to help you consider which is best for you.

In a hall of residence:
• You have the opportunity to meet other students, including those studying on different courses.
• You may pay less rent than in private accommodation of a similar size and location.
• Halls of residence are generally situated close to main campuses.
• Utility bills (e.g. for gas, electricity etc) are generally included in your rent.
• Staying in a hall of residence can help you to feel part of the university community.

In private accommodation:
• You have the opportunity to live and share with friends.
• You may feel more independent and more in touch with the local community.
• You will have to pay utility bills (e.g. for gas, electricity etc), which are generally not included in your rent.
• You can choose an area of the city that you would like to live in and look for private accommodation there.
• You won’t need to leave your accommodation during vacation time.
• You will be able to search for a more competitive rate for rent.

Lastly, there is a question from Peter from Nigeria. He is concerned about certain kinds of advertising (‘Come Along With A UK Study Abroad Programme With Free Visa’). Is it genuine or is it a fraudulent attempt to obtain money? Should he require proof even if it sounds real?

This is a very important question as every year there are numerous scams involving false promises, to extort money from students. You should always be very suspicious of anything that sounds too good to be true as it probably is, and NEVER send money or bank details in such cases. Reliable Information about how to obtain a study visa is available from the UKCISA website or from the student admissions section at the University you are applying to.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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BYOD – Bringing your own device when studying in the UK and getting connected

A student using their own deviceThis month’s guest blog post is by Andrew Davey, Technology Specialist in eLearning from the University of Southampton. In it he looks at some of the steps international students may need to take when bringing their own devices, such as personal laptops or tablets (iPads or Android), to use at a college or university in the UK.


Most UK institutions have on-site computing facilities. These provide support to students and staff across campus in getting networked and using the institution’s online services and licensed software. Some of the instructions for getting your own device networked will often be online, so once you have an institutional username and password (usually the same as your email login details), you will be able to log in and follow instructions to access services. Students often bring their own devices to classes or lectures in the UK to support their studies and use them to work online also when not being taught. For these reasons, it is important to get your device connected as soon as you can after you arrive.

Accessing University resources off-campus

You may wish to access resources such as a personal filestore when you are away from your institution. It is important to have access to this and other services such as the library while off-campus and studying at home. This will usually be possible through a ‘Virtual Private Network’ or VPN, which allows you access to systems as if you were using an institutional device. Your institution may provide an app for ease of connecting to the VPN, or a set of instructions may be available.


In the UK, email underpins much of the communication between tutors and students on their courses. You will need to check your institutional email account on a daily basis in case there are any important messages from your teachers, department or the university in general. Spam emails can be a problem in most institutions so when using email accounts, avoid opening attachments from unknown sources. Some emails may contain a virus or spyware, which can help give hackers access to your accounts. Always make sure you have an up-to-date virus scanner installed on your device. You may be able to obtain one for free as part of an institutional licence, or you may have to purchase one separately.

The institutional VLE

Your institutional VLE (virtual learning environment) will be an important place to locate module and course information. Find out which VLE our institution uses and familiarise yourself with as soon as you have your institutional login. Blackboard and Moodle are both popular VLEs used in the UK. To find out more about how VLEs are used by course teachers, look at this learning resource: Preparing for Online Study.

Social Media

If you have any social media accounts, you may also wish to connect with these to your department or University by ‘following’ them on Twitter or ‘liking’ them on Facebook. For study tips and academic guidance you can follow @PfS_website on Twitter or Prepare for Success on Facebook. For general advice about life and study in the UK you can also follow @UKCISA.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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Studying in the UK: Guidance for Indian Students

Indian students

This month’s guest blog post offers guidance to Indian students applying to study in the UK and is provided by Sophia Harris from Stunited:

Indian students who are planning to pursue studies in higher education in the UK often face a dilemma in terms of choosing the right course to suit their educational background and meeting entry requirements for the UK. Typical courses that attract Indian students include science, engineering, art and design, law, finance and business management, and help in choosing the most suitable course can be found on the British Council India Education website. The UCAS website also helps with the process of finding courses that match your profile. Most universities provide details of specific courses on their official websites, and students can also request a prospectus from them. Some local British Council offices may also be able to provide a copy of a prospectus, as well as more general information about studying in the UK.

Prospective students should try to estimate the cost of studying and living in the UK before they come. They should take into account accommodation costs (e.g. halls of residence) as well as fees for the course that they intend to study. In order to get a comprehensive idea regarding accommodation facilities, choice of course, availability of scholarships etc, students can register to use the Stunited (Students United) website. Some universities offer a guarantee of housing to international students for at least one year of study, while a few of them extend this to the full period of studies. Students must identify whether or not they qualify for such guaranteed housing from the university.

When planning to study in the UK, students must ensure they have sufficient money to pay for course fees and living costs. For the necessary financial planning, students can visit the UKCISA website to find out more about course fees, living costs and financial support. The International Student Calculator is also a useful site for this.

Students should gather enough information about the specific institution or university where they are planning to study. It is essential to know whether a student visa, i.e. UK immigration permission, will be granted for study. Before making an application for this visa it is important to check whether the chosen university is listed in the Register of Tier 4 Sponsors. Any application to an unlisted institution will be refused. Students are advised to check the university website for its policy on refund of deposits and fees in case of an immigration application being refused; the university course not running or the university losing its Tier 4 Sponsor status.

Students should note that they must not make any payment until they are clear regarding the university’s policy on refunds, and complaints handling. If a student is interested in an undergraduate degree course at a UK university, it is advisable to apply through the central admission system known as Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). This website provides the necessary information for international students who wish to apply online.

If an Indian student wishes to travel to Europe whilst studying in the UK, he/she will have to apply to the Schengen Visa Scheme before travelling. This provides a permit to travel in countries belonging to the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or between countries with the use of only one visa.

If you have a question related to academic life and study in the UK and you can’t find the answer in the Prepare for Success learning resources, write it on the Question Wall and we will try to answer it here in the blog next time.

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