The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a sovereign country in western Europe. Lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland, the UK includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state—the Republic of Ireland.[note 9] Apart from this land border, the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to its east, the English Channel to its south and the Celtic Sea to its south-south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the UK is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world and the 11th-largest in Europe. It is also the 21st-most populous country, with an estimated 65.5 million inhabitants. Together, this makes it the fourth-most densely populated country in the European Union (EU).
Education in the United Kingdom is a devolved matter, with each country having a separate education system. Considering the four systems together, about 38 percent of the United Kingdom population has a university or college degree, which is the highest percentage in Europe, and among the highest percentages in the world. The United Kingdom trails only the United States in terms of representation on lists of top 100 universities. A government commission’s report in 2014 found that privately educated people comprise 7% of the general population of the UK but much larger percentages of the top professions, the most extreme case quoted being 71% of senior judges.
Christ Church, Oxford is part of the University of Oxford, which traces its foundations back to c. 1096 Whilst education in England is the responsibility of the Secretary of State for Education, the day-to-day administration and funding of state schools is the responsibility of local authorities. Universally free of charge state education was introduced piecemeal between 1870 and 1944. Education is now mandatory from ages five to sixteen, and in England youngsters must stay in education or training until they are 18. In 2011, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) rated 13–14-year-old pupils in England and Wales 10th in the world for maths and 9th for science.The majority of children are educated in state-sector schools, a small proportion of which select on the grounds of academic ability. Two of the top ten performing schools in terms of GCSE results in 2006 were state-run grammar schools. In 2010, over half of places at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge were taken by students from state schools, while the proportion of children in England attending private schools is around 7% which rises to 18% of those over 16. England has the two oldest universities in English-speaking world, Universities of Oxford and Cambridge (jointly known as “Ox bridge”) with history of over eight centuries.
Education in Scotland is the responsibility of the Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning, with day-to-day administration and funding of state schools the responsibility of Local Authorities. Two non-departmental public bodies have key roles in Scottish education. The Scottish Qualifications Authority is responsible for the development, accreditation, assessment and certification of qualifications other than degrees which are delivered at secondary schools, post-secondary colleges of further education and other centres. Learning and Teaching Scotland provides advice, resources and staff development to education professionals. Scotland first legislated for compulsory education in 1496. The proportion of children in Scotland attending private schools is just over 4% in 2016, but it has been falling slowly in recent years. Scottish students who attend Scottish universities pay neither tuition fees nor graduate endowment charges, as fees were abolished in 2001 and the graduate endowment scheme was abolished in 2008.
The total area of the United Kingdom is approximately 243,610 square kilometres (94,060 sq mi). The country occupies the major part of the British Islesarchipelago and includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern one-sixth of the island of Ireland and some smaller surrounding islands. It lies between the North Atlantic Ocean and the North Sea with the south-east coast coming within 22 miles (35 km) of the coast of northern France, from which it is separated by the English Channel.In 1993 10% of the UK was forested, 46% used for pastures and 25% cultivated for agriculture. The Royal Greenwich Observatory in London is the defining point of the Prime Meridian.
The United Kingdom lies between latitudes 49° to 61° N, and longitudes 9° W to 2° E. Northern Ireland shares a 224-mile (360 km) land boundary with the Republic of Ireland. The coastline of Great Britain is 11,073 miles (17,820 km) long. It is connected to continental Europe by the Channel Tunnel, which at 31 miles (50 km) (24 miles (38 km) underwater) is the longest underwater tunnel in the world.
England accounts for just over half of the total area of the UK, covering 130,395 square kilometres (50,350 sq mi). Most of the country consists of lowland terrain, with mountainous terrain north-west of the Tees-Exe line; including the Cumbrian Mountains of the Lake District, the Pennines, Exmoor and Dartmoor. The main rivers and estuaries are the Thames, Severn and the Humber. England’s highest mountain is Scafell Pike (978 metres (3,209 ft)) in the Lake District. Its principal rivers are the Severn, Thames, Humber, Tees, Tyne, Tweed, Avon, Exe and Mersey.
UK has always been an attractive study destination for Indian students, but staying in UK after you finish your course can be difficult. Four months stay back is available after course completion. In some cases, students applying to top universities can also get 6 months of stay back to find a job.
Presently, you need to apply for Tier 2 visa (work visa) immediately on finding a job after finishing studies. Your Tier 4 visa is valid only till your course duration.
Previously the UK had Tier 1 visa (Post-study Work) which allowed students to stay back in UK for up to two years after the completion of their course. However this was abolished in 2012, the year Conservative Party came to power in UK. While international students can still work after finishing the course, they must have a job offer ready and follow tough rules on the salary and employment criteria.
In statements issued by the UK govt., they have stressed that “the brightest and best of students should not come here and do menial jobs”. There have been many petitions started by UK universities, Scottish govt., and Indian diplomats to convince the UK govt. to reinstate Tier 1 post-study work visa. However, till now UK has ruled out re-introducing post-study work visa.
UK Settlement Visa
Part time work option in UK for international students
In recent years, the UK immigration rules have become very strict and stringent. This applies to even non-immigrant visas like the Student Visa. In case any international student doesn’t comply with the rules laid down by the UKBA, they risk facing deportation. Following are the restrictions on working part-time while on UK student visa (Tier 4):
Maximum of 20 hours per week of paid/unpaid work during course term for degree students
Maximum of 10 hours per week of paid/unpaid work during course term for language center students
Full time work is allowed during vacations
You can’t work full time until you have received a work permit (Tier 2)
Self-employment is not permitted, like any freelance or consultancy work
Before taking any part-time job, work placement, internship, unpaid or volunteer work check that your tier 4 (general) visa status allows you to work in UK. Working for too many hours can make you feel tired and stressed, which will directly affect your studies. That’s why many universities and colleges recommend international students work for maximum 15 hours per week. The reasoning behind this is maintaining a study-life balance. You need to think about how a job will affect your daily life, and seek help from your tutor or international student support officer if you have any concerns.