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Dispelling common myths about British university education

While inequality, exclusivity and the troubling public divisions caused by private schooling remain one of the most contentious and widely discussed issues in the UK, the country has come a long way reforming and evolving its education system. Many myths and prejudices surrounding it and stemming from the press and popular culture are simply not true.

Some of these myths are related to British universities and student life in the UK in general.

Here are some of them and why they shouldn't prevent international students from applying to universities in the UK:

Myth 1. British education is too expensive

One of the most widespread myths about British higher education is that it's not affordable for the average international student, especially when it comes to the most prestigious universities.

However, even Oxford and Cambridge degrees cost roughly the same as most UK universities. And there's a wide array of grants, bursaries, and scholarships offered by different institutions, universities, and the UK government that international students can be eligible for. These scholarships usually cover the cost of living and tuition fees.

Myth 2. Living costs are sky-high

London is largely to blame for this particular myth. However, the truth is that the living costs are highly dependent on a particular student's location and lifestyle.

International students can get excellent education studying at university cities with more affordable housing and lower cost of living like Manchester, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Sheffield, Birmingham, Nottingham and Glasgow. And you can also get around the country without breaking your budget: the annual 16–25 Railcard allows everyone aged between 16 and 25 to make significant savings on UK rail fares.

There is also a wide range of student discounts available all over the UK, across various brands. Using websites like Save The Student will help you discover the latest students deals on everything from food and drinks to electronics, clothing and the Internet. You can also take advantage of the TOTUM student discount card supported by the UK's National Union of Students that gets its owners deals on eating out, fashion, travel, fitness and much more.

Myth 3. You need to be either an all-star student or from a famous boarding school to get into universities like Oxford and Cambridge

The times are indeed changing. While the share of students from the prestigious British schools like Eton College, St Paul’s School or King’s College School admitted into Cambridge and Oxford has fallen over the years, both universities have had a big increase in overseas applications. One third of Oxford's students come from over 140 countries.

In general, when it comes to getting into the leading UK universities, you don't need to have the highest grades, fit a particular profile or have a special ability or talent like playing sports or doing various extracurriculars to stand out. Other qualities like a genuine passion for your subject or the ability to think for yourself can play a much bigger role.

Myth 4. It's hard to find a job before and after graduation

International students have lots of opportunities to get professional experience while studying in the UK through their universities' internships, placements and research projects. Student visa holders who study full-time can work up to 20 hours per week during term time and full-time if they take up internships and work placements as part of their studies.

UK universities are also well-represented in the graduate employability rankings that show which universities worldwide are the best at preparing students for the job market.

Want to know more about British education? LEO International Online School offers a diverse and intensive two–year A-Level programme designed to prepare students for entry to universities in the United Kingdom. Learn more about this programme and our other courses here, and don't hesitate to contact us at


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