Five common mistakes UK international students make

Studying in the UK as an international student gives you the chance to immerse yourself in another culture. You will improve your English, make international friends, and see another part of the world. Yet, like any new challenge, it can be difficult and you might make some mistakes when you first arrive.

The good news is that millions of people have studied in the UK before you. They’ve faced all the same highs and lows – and you can learn a lot from their mistakes.

So, if you are planning on studying abroad in the UK, here are five common mistakes international students make (and what you can do to avoid them).

1. Not planning the timings of your application

University applications in the UK can take a long time. It’s important to start the process early to avoid disappointment.

Keep in mind that the deadlines for applications run from October to January, and you’ll have to apply through UCAS - that’s the Universities and College Admission Services in the UK.

Within your application, you’ll also need to prove you have the right English language skills to live and study in the UK. For this you will need to take an approved Secure English Language Test (SELT) like PTE Academic, and show evidence of your result in your application.

Luckily, PTE is also accepted by the United Kingdom Home Office for all visa and immigration applications. It can help you gain access to 99% of UK universities. And you get your score in 48 hours. So that’s one less thing to worry about!

Find out more about using PTE to apply for your student visa.

2. Getting the wrong student visa

All international students who want to study abroad in the UK must apply for a visa. What many people don’t know is that there are two types of UK visa for students:

  • Short-term study visa
    This is available for 6 or 11 months, and is ideal for students who want to take part in a short language course or research project as part of their degree.
  • Student route visa
    Formerly known as the Tier 4 General student visa, you need this if you want to study for an undergraduate or higher-level degree at university.

When you can start the application process will depend on whether you are inside or outside the UK. It usually takes between three and eight weeks to get your application approved.

Learn more about the different types of student visa.

3. Underestimating the weather

Many students struggle to know what clothes to pack when they are moving to the UK. It’s not surprising, after all, British weather is very changeable. It can vary a lot depending on your location and the season. It’s therefore a good idea to research the area you are studying in and select a range of clothes for different times of year.

Generally, the further north you go, the colder and windier it is likely to be. The west of the UK also tends to be a lot wetter than the east.

But don’t just pack rain jackets and sweaters. Believe it or not, the UK can reach temperatures of 30 degrees celsius in the summer. So bring your sunglasses too!

4. Not preparing for class tutorials

Most universities teach through a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorials. Lectures happen in a large lecture hall and are delivered by a professor. Seminars and tutorials are much smaller (fewer than 10 people). Tutorials and seminars are often led by a postgraduate student or lecturer.

While you can often sit and passively listen and take notes in a lecture, don’t be surprised if you’re asked to speak in a tutorial. You’ll be expected to complete a set amount of reading, and be given different essays and assignments each week.

Make sure that you have done the required reading in advance of your tutorial - otherwise you might get asked to contribute your opinion and have nothing to say.

We recommend creating a study timetable to make sure you stay on top of the work. It will help you prepare better for your classes. More importantly, you won’t get caught out by a question you can’t answer.

5.  Facetiming home too much

It’s good to stay connected with friends and family, and there are lots of tools to help you do so. But lots of video calls home all the time can actually make you miss people more, and stop you from going out in the real world and experiencing a new culture.

Of course, we know being far away from home is hard. But often the remedy to homesickness is staying busy. Step out of your comfort zone, and try new things. Join a society, head along to a student meet up and make some friends.

And, if you are really suffering, don’t be afraid to reach out to your student counselling service. They can put you in contact with the right people, and give you some strategies without judgement.

Studying abroad in the UK is the adventure of a lifetime, and it’s only natural to make a few missteps along the way. So even if something does go wrong, don’t worry - everybody makes mistakes sometimes!

How PTE Academic can help you study in the UK

PTE Academic is accepted by 99% of UK universities. So, you’ll be able to use your PTE Academic score to prove you have the level of English you’ll need to study in the UK. Each university has different English language requirements.

This article shares the English language requirements of some popular UK universities.

PTE Academic is also accepted by the UK Home Office in support of your student visa application. So, find out more about booking your test today and planning for your study abroad experience in the UK.

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