The UK’s higher education institutions play host to both UK citizens and international students. According to www.universitiesuk.ac.uk there are 165 higher education institutions in the UK, many of which are world-class universities. The wealth of resources available across the UK, the funding opportunities offered and the quality of education and intensity of courses make the UK an ideal place for postgraduate study.
The resources available to students in the UK are extensive and many are linked through a series of electronic databases. Copac, based at the University of Manchester, is a united database featuring over 70 UK and Irish academic, national, and specialist library catalogues. It allows students to electronically access books and other materials from all over the country as well as having research materials delivered to their own place of study through the inter-library loan system.
In addition to the electronic databases, university and national libraries are accessible for archival and manuscript research including Manchester University’s John Rylands Library, Deansgate, which is home to over a million manuscripts and archival items. Other UK institutions house critical collections, such as the Mass Observation archive at the University of Sussex. Non-academic organisations also allow students access to their collections. The Imperial War Museum’s collections are available for use online and at their resource centre in London. With access to thousands of museums, libraries and archives including academic, private, and government institutions across the UK, the network of resources available to postgraduate students is extensive in all subject areas.
The quality of education available in the UK also makes it an ideal place to study. Besides the intensity of UK courses, there are options available to fit different kinds of lifestyles and students. The University of Manchester offers both full-time and part-time programmes for postgraduates allowing students to fit their studies around employment, internships and a variety of other non-academic activities. Postgraduate students across the UK can also benefit from a wide range of funding opportunities including bursaries offered by a number of Research Councils, internal bursaries awarded within the universities or private funds obtainable through a number of individual organisations.
However, a downside for international students is the restrictions for post-degree work. Despite UK higher education institutions being home to over 150,000 non-EU students, the policies and restrictions regarding international students staying in the UK after earning their degree are inconsistent and are made even more difficult by differing term and graduation times. Previous immigration and visa categories directed at international students who have earned their degree at a UK institution have been closed making it very difficult for those students to stay and work in the UK after graduation. While the reason behind the closed categories is the sheer number of international students who study in the UK and the concern of those students taking jobs away from UK and EU citizens, there is a need for some policy changes which make the current regulations more adaptable to different term and graduation dates for international students.