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Studying in UK

The United Kingdom is made up of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Britain has a long cultural history, a complete education system and a high degree of acceptance. It is one of the most popular countries for studying. The academic level of its universities is well-known. Among the top 10 universities in the world, the United Kingdom occupies 4 of them (QS 2021 World University Rankings).

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Official name: United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Population: 65 million

Capital: London

Government system: constitutional monarchy, parliamentary democracy

Common currency: British Pound (£, GBP)

Official language: English

The Weather in UK

Britain has a mild climate with sunny weather all year round.

Spring March-May

Spring is usually sunny, with occasional cold waves and rainfall, and the temperature is around 6-11 degrees. The weather in May is mild and the highest temperature during the day can reach around 18 degrees.


Summer June-August

In summer, the temperature is high during the day and becomes cooler at night. The temperature is about 14-30 degrees, and the highest temperature can reach 35 degrees.

Autumn September-November

The weather is mild in autumn, with occasional cold waves, and the temperature is around 7-18 degrees. September is warmer, and the temperature may drop sharply in November.

Winter December-March

Winter has the shortest day (approximately 7-8 hours) and the lowest temperature in the UK, with temperatures around 1-5 degrees. The day is sunny and the weather is dry and cold.

Time Difference in UK
Daylight saving time (March-October)

The British summer time system starts at 00:00 on the last Sunday in March, and the clock is set one hour forward to 01:00; it ends at 01:00 on the last Sunday in October and the clock is set back to 00:00. The time difference with Hong Kong is 7 hours.


Winter time system (June-August)

During winter time, the United Kingdom adopts Universal Time. The time difference with Hong Kong is 8 hours.

​Education System

Primary and secondary school

The UK’s education system has a long history, with high-quality, diversified courses, strict school spirit and outstanding academic performance. British boarding schools are even more famous internationally. Therefore, the UK has always been a popular place for Hong Kong students to study abroad. According to the Independent Schools Council (ISC) 2019 statistical report, there are currently more than 5,000 Hong Kong students studying in British boarding schools. On average, more than 1,500 Hong Kong students go to boarding schools in the UK each year. Most colleges and universities in the UK start classes in September, with a total of three semesters each year. Schools generally recommend that students who are going to the UK start applying nine to twelve months before the start of classes.

Primary and secondary education in the UK is generally divided into three stages: six-year primary school (year 1 to 6), five-year secondary school (year 7 to 11), and a two-year preparatory system (year 12 to 13). After finishing Year 11, students must take the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). It is equivalent to the old Hong Kong Certificate of Education Examination (HKCEE). After passing the GCSE, students can progress to the college entrance examination preparatory course (A-Level) from Year 12 to Year 13. Upon completion of the course, students must register for the A-Level exam. The university admissions must be based on the student's test scores.

England, Wales and Northern Ireland have the same education system, while Scotland has another system. Six-year elementary school (Year 1 to Year 6), 6-year secondary school (Year 7 to Year 12), and Year 11 and 12 to participate in the two-year Scottish Certificate of Education (SCE) examination, a Scottish university is a four-year system.

Preparatory Courses

International Year 1

International Year 1 (International Year 1) is similar to the first year of university. The courses are only for international students, suitable for Form 6 students. The study period is one year. This course can also be regarded as a conditional admission to a British university. Students who meet the specified requirements can be promoted to the second year of the original school, that is, they will receive a British university degree after two years of study. However, there are not many schools offering courses and relatively few course choices. The main courses are business, and some of them offer psychology, international relations, engineering, etc. In addition to studying university subject content, students also need to study English and studying skills. The advantage is that its admission requirements are lower than those for direct admission to universities, and it is a good choice for many students to enter a famous university in the UK.

University Foundation Course (Foundation)

Most British universities offer foundation courses to assist students in connecting to the university. They are suitable for Form 5 and Form 6 students. The study period is 6-12 months. Form 5 students can apply with their Form 5 results. If the grades of Form 6 students do not meet the university's direct admission standards, or if they have not taken the elective subjects required by the university of their choice, they can choose to take this course to connect to the university. University basic courses are a popular choice for students. After students complete the courses and meet the specified requirements, they can go straight to the first year of university.

University courses

There are about 140 universities in the UK. Both overseas students and local students in the UK must use the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) to apply for UK bachelor's degree programs. Through UCAS, Hong Kong students can directly use the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) results without having to take additional qualifications such as A-Levels to apply for UK universities. They can choose up to 5 voluntary degrees at a cost of 25 pounds. UCAS will assist students in submitting and following up their applications, and will also provide suggestions for school selection. The general bachelor's degree program lasts for three years, and the master's degree program lasts for one to one and a half years.

​University Rankings
The following is the 2020 The Times The Sunday Times Good University Guide. The ranking is based on the comprehensive university rankings and professional department rankings based on teaching level, student satisfaction, admission level, student employment rate, academic research level and other indicators. There are 128 universities in total. When choosing a school, in addition to referring to the school rankings, it is also recommended that students and parents choose schools and subjects according to their own interests.
Click here to view the rankings.
Boarding High School: £8,000-£13,000 / semester (3 semesters in total)
University basic courses: £10,000-£17,000 / year
University diploma courses: £10,000-£17,000 / year
Bachelor degree: £10,000-£20,000 / year
Master's program: £10,000-£20,000 / year
​The cost of living in the UK
(According to the guidelines of the British Consulate)
London and surrounding areas: £11,385 / year
Outside of London: £9,135 / year
Overseas student medical

Starting from March 2019, all applicants need to pay a medical surcharge of £300/year, and an increase to £470/year from October 2020 to enjoy the National Health Services (NHS ) of the United Kingdom. After arriving in the UK, students should register at the health centre near the school as soon as possible. Please bring your student’s identity certificate when registering. After successfully registering, students will be issued an NHS medical card; each time you use medical services, you need to show this card to enjoy NHS protection.

student visa
  • Students (BNO/HKSAR passport holders) are required to apply for a student visa for a six-month course.

  • All applicants must complete the online application process and make an online appointment.

  • Starting from December 31, 2013, all applicants from China, Hong Kong and Macau (long-term/6 months or more) are required to pass a tuberculosis test at a designated medical institution.

  • Starting from March 2019, all applicants will be required to pay a medical surcharge of £300/year, and the cost will be £470/year from October 2020.

  • Applicants must bring the required documents (original and copy), and go to the visa center to submit the application in person.

  • Generally, the consulate will make a visa decision within 15 working days after submitting the application. (Except during peak hours)

  • If the applicant chooses the priority processing visa service (additional HK$2,294), the visa decision can be made within 3-5 working days.

Guardian Service

According to British law, all British boarding schools require students to have legal guardians to take care of them during their stay in the UK. A student who has a relative or friend who holds a British passport, is 25 years of age or older, and has a fixed address in the UK is eligible to become a guardian. The Guardian Company is to provide guardian services to students who do not have a qualified guardian to ensure that they are taken care of during the English term.

Main service scope
  • Arrange for students’ holiday off-campus accommodation and transportation for travelling to and from the host family

  • Handling school affairs on behalf of parents, such as paperwork, vaccination, whether to attend various activities invited to participate, and respond to transcripts, etc.

  • Maintain close contact with parents, students and the school throughout the year (including communication via telephone, WeChat, email, SMS, post, etc.)

  • 24-hour emergency assistance, such as schoolchildren who are slightly injured in an accident and need to be sent to the hospital for treatment by a guardian, etc.

​Accommodation Options

British colleges and universities provide international students with different types of accommodation. Students should choose accommodation based on the college, age, adaptability and budget. Several accommodation arrangements are as follows:

School dormitory

Living in a boarding school is a rare opportunity when studying in the UK. Students living and studying with people of the same age from all over the world not only broaden their own knowledge, but also increase their self-confidence, group awareness and social skills, and cultivate self-discipline and independence.

Host family

This type of accommodation is especially popular with students who come to the UK to learn languages. You live in a local British home, have your own room and dine with members of the family. This type of accommodation can be arranged flexibly according to your needs, but is usually regarded as a cultural exchange. Being fully integrated into the daily life of the British is usually the best way to improve language skills and understand British culture and traditional customs.

Share house

For three-year courses, student dormitories are often only guaranteed to provide accommodation for one to two years, usually for the first and/or third year. Therefore, apartments and shared houses are becoming increasingly popular. You can find information about rented apartments and houses in local newspapers, shop windows, and school accommodation offices. The best time to find this type of accommodation is before the end of the semester in June and July. If you find a place to live at this time, you still need to pay the rent during the summer vacation. But if you do not move in right away, some landlords will reduce the rent during this period. If you like independence and self-cooking, a shared apartment or house is a good choice.

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