Latin American and Caribbean students in the UK
Moving to the UK to study is a big decision. Here’s some information especially for students from Central and South America and the Caribbean that may help you make up your mind
In 2008/09, there were a little over 8,400 students from the region enrolled on courses at UK higher education institutions. With over 360,000 international students enrolled on UK higher education programmes in 2008/09, Latin Americans and Caribbeans account for about 2% of the overseas student population.
However, the fact that you come from one of the countries that sends fewer people to the UK is not necessarily a bad thing. One of the great advantages of being something of a pioneer is that you can’t just hang around with your fellow nationals, speaking your own language and staying within your own culture. Being a pioneer forces you to get out and speak to different people, with new friendships and fantastic experiences being the result.
A sporting life
Which Latin American and Caribbean countries supply the most students?
The top ten Latin American and Caribbean countries in terms of the number of students enrolled on UK higher education programmes in 2009/10 were:
Trinidad and Tobago (889)
Source: HESA Student Record 2009/10
The UK is a sporting nation, and this is reflected at many universities. Playing sport is not only a great way to keep fit, it is also the perfect way to make friends and meet new people.
As in many Latin American countries, football 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. And if football isn’t your sport, UK universities and colleges offer a wide range of state-of-the-art facilities, such as swimming pools, gyms, athletic tracks and tennis courts.
Clubs and societies
Want to carry on practising capoeira or salsa 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, often created by the students themselves, which cover a wide variety of interests.
You will often 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. London Business School (LBS), for example, has a student-run Latin America Club, which aims to bring Latin America to LBS and vice versa.
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 and tuition in English language if you need it, UK universities will offer a combination of support activities:
- foundation programmes that are designed to prepare international students for studying in the UK
- 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.
At what level do Latin American and Caribbean students study in the UK?
A total of 8,416 students from the region were studying in the UK in 2009/10, broken down as follows:
- undergraduate: 2,865
- postgraduate: 5,551
Source: HESA Student Record 2009/10
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 taste of home, you’ll always be able to find a restaurant serving authentic Latin American or Caribbean cuisine – for example, the Las Iguanas chain has restaurants in 12 UK cities, and there are countless independent restaurants serving South American and Caribbean cuisine located throughout the country.
Student newspapers have debated the new meaning of what it is to be British, since the quest for an international education has brought so many nationalities to UK shores. The landscapes of the UK’s university towns and cities are coloured with young and fresh faces – in the shopping arcades, on the streets and in the bars, pubs and clubs, you will find an eclectic mix of faiths, nationalities and races.
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 Latin America are vast and growing. If ever there were a time to be a student in the UK, it is now.
Useful links for students from Central and South America