Australian and New Zealand students in the UK
A pilgrimage to the UK is seen as a rite of passage for many Australians and New Zealanders. Most come on an extended working holiday or are passing through as part of a grand tour of the Northern Hemisphere, but some come to join the UK’s vibrant international student community.
How many students study in the UK?
The number of students enrolled on UK higher education programmes in 2009/10 was:
New Zealand: 512
Source: HESA Student Record 2009/10
Each year, many Australians and New Zealanders aged 17 to 30 come to the UK for work and pleasure. A much more select bunch come to the UK to study – in 2008/09, just over 2,000 Aussies and Kiwis were enrolled on higher education courses at UK institutions.
With over 360,000 international students enrolled on UK higher education programmes in 2008/09, students from Australasia account for less than 1% of the overseas student population. However, the fact that you come from one of the countries that sends fewer students to the UK is not necessarily a bad thing. One of the great advantages of being something of a pioneer is that it forces you to get out and speak to different people, with new friendships and fantastic experiences being the result.
Get involvedThe findings of a UKCISA report into what it’s like to be an international student in the UK confirms that the more you put into your UK study experience, the more you will get out. The report, entitled ‘Broadening Our Horizons’, found that taking part in any type of activity on campus is likely to result in you making friends with more British and other international students.
A sporting lifeLike Australia and New Zealand, the UK is a sporting nation (albeit one that tends to be less successful on the international stage), and this is reflected at many universities. Football (soccer) is the national sport, and all UK institutions have a number of men’s – and, in most cases, women’s – football teams that you can sign up for. If football isn’t your game, there’s a huge range of other sports to choose from, and you’ll have your institution’s state-of-art facilities (including swimming pools, gyms, athletic tracks, football, rugby and cricket pitches, and tennis courts) at your disposal.
Clubs and societies
Want to carry on playing touch rugby when you’re in the UK? Got an interest in drama, photography or cinema perhaps? UK universities have an astonishing range of clubs and societies which cover a wide variety of interests. And if you want to set up your own club – a Vegemite Appreciation Society, perhaps – you’ll be more than welcome to.
At what level do students study in the UK?
A total of 2,290 students from Australasia (including Oceania islands) were studying in the UK in 2009/10, broken down as follows:
- undergraduate: 742
- postgraduate: 1,548
Source: HESA Student Record 2009/10
You will usually find there will be a student society dedicated to your country or region where you can meet fellow nationals and other students who are interested in where you come from. The London School of Economics (LSE), for example, has a student-run Australia New Zealand Students Association (ANZSA). ANZSA members include undergraduate and postgraduate students, teaching staff and supporters that either come from Australia or New Zealand or are from anywhere else in the world but are interested in these two great countries (and Aussie and Kiwi’s well-earned reputation for having a good time!). ANZSA aims to provide a forum for social interaction, formal and informal networking, information distribution, and speaker/seminar organisation. The Society also aims to form social and professional links with the many LSE alumni that hold prominent positions in both Australia and New Zealand.
You can easily find out about the clubs and societies on offer at an institution by checking its website or asking its International Office.
What help is available?
What can you expect in terms of official support from your UK college or university? Apart from a dedicated International Office for students from overseas, UK universities will offer a combination of support activities:
- job shops, which are there to help you find part-time work to support your studies
- careers services, which provide information and advice about employment after you complete your course
- accommodation officers, who can help you to find somewhere suitable to live
- buddy schemes, which pair you with a more experienced fellow national
- student ambassadors, who lead activities for particular countries
- dedicated facilities for international students, such as international student lounges and halls of residences
- welcome orientations for international students, which are usually free of charge.
On top of this, there will be the student support offered by your institution’s students’ union and by volunteer societies.
The National Union of Students (NUS) is a confederation of student representative organisations in UK universities and colleges, which represents the interests of around five million students in further and higher education throughout the country. The NUS runs an International Students’ Campaign that aims to help international students with any issues they face, and represent them at a local, national or international level.
British student culture
British student culture can no longer be simply defined. The wide variety of students flocking to UK institutions from around the world has created a melting pot of different cultures – not just within the universities and colleges, but also in the towns and cities that host the institutions.
Just one piece of evidence is the huge range of European and international cuisines and beverages sold at the bars and cafes that adorn UK campuses, towns and cities. So if you’re missing the home, you’ll always be able to find an antipodean bar or restaurant. And with so many Aussies living in London, Australia Day has become quite an event on the capital’s celebrations calendar.
A unique student scene
The student scene in the UK is lively, unique and interesting. Wherever you study, you’ll find an extensive and exciting social aspect to your study experience, and many activities to keep you occupied both on and off campus. The choices for students coming to the UK from Australia and New Zealand are vast and growing. If ever there were a time to be a student in the UK, it is now. And you never know – you might have such a good time that you may choose to join the 400,000+ expatriate Aussies and Kiwis who have made the UK their permanent home.
Useful links for Aussies and Kiwis living and studying in the UK