Guide For Indian Students Going To The UK For A Business Degree

ASK STUDENTS & ALUMNI SIMILAR TO YOU ABOUT THEIR EXPERIENCES

THREE: Talk to current or former students. Most business schools are pretty good at using recently graduated students in their recruitment process, so it should not be too hard to find someone with a similar profile to you, and ask them about their experiences.

“It’s always a good idea to find a student who you can identify or relate with, whether they come from the same part of the world or they come from the same industry or are now working in an industry you have aspirations of working in,” says Healy. “Prospective students tend to ask: ‘how did you find X programme’ or ‘how did you find living in X city’, all valuable pieces of information but always with the same or similar positive answers. Therefore I recommend asking how they began their MBA research and what steps did they take to arrive at selecting X school.”

Durham’s Amir Michael adds: “I’d be asking questions relevant to the purpose of doing the MBA in the first place and what are the key objectives you are wanting to achieve by pursuing an MBA. Some of the objectives to be achieved may be relevant to the school’s strengths and competitive advantages, in which case the school will be the best fit to meet these objectives. If your objectives are not aligned to one or more of school’s strengths, it will be very difficult to gain from joining this school. Therefore, a high-quality applicant is the one who is clear about his/her objectives and can understand clearly how the school will support him/her in achieving these objectives.”

 BREAKING THROUGH THE MARKETING SPIEL OF B-SCHOOL WEBSITES

Indian students “usually focus on their merits and may miss having some clear view about their potential,” says Amir Michael of Durham Business School

Talking to current students or recent graduates should help you get into the nitty-gritty of the course: the ease of finding internships and jobs, the quality of contacts with employers, including how schools are replacing in-person job-fairs with online ones at the moment.

Indian students sometimes have a very specific career-route in mind, so it is important they get first-hand knowledge about whether a particular program will help with that. “From our interactions with recruitment agents and Indian students there’s a hierarchy in job opportunities where master’s level qualifications are an important precursor to certain government job, and students are often thinking about the sort of degree and experience, it will open up a specific career pathway in the public sector,” says MacIntosh.

Student experiences of the quality of distance-learning during the pandemic is vitally important, given the possibility of future lockdowns in the UK. Also, find out about the contacts between the business school and local employers. Foreign students might not be aware of the dominant industries in particular cities. For instance, the north-east is a hotbed or automaking, Manchester a centre for the media, while Leeds and Edinburgh have thriving financial services sectors. Nothing beats on-the-ground knowledge, so use it. This is your chance to break through the marketing spiel of brochures and websites and find out what a school is really like.

GET A HANDLE ON HOW MUCH IT WILL ACTUALLY COST

FOUR: Understand the full cost of living. Choosing a business school is all about return on investment, and that is not all about money – it includes intangibles like reputation, contacts and enjoyment. But money really matters too. London is a great world city, with incredible opportunities, but the cost of living in London is astronomical and it’s so big that living outside and commuting in would be tricky. At Imperial College Business School, the tuition fee for the MBA program is £54,500.

But that fee does not include the cost of your accommodation and living expenses in London or costs incurred as part of optional internships or exchanges. It also doesn’t cover the cost of supplementary texts and study materials or even career club memberships which add another £20 per club for the year. What’s more, if you require a Tier 4 visa you will be required to show evidence of funds to cover living expenses plus the full tuition fees for your MBA program. Evidence of these funds must be shown in either your bank account for a minimum of 28 days on a statement dated not more than 31 days prior to the visa application date.

Cities outside the South East can be more affordable. Obviously, though, there is another huge trade-off here – the cost of living is a proxy for opportunities.  Find out whether you are expected to rent privately, or can do it through the school itself; private renting can be pricey, but also renters don’t have a lot of rights.

“Tuition fee is the main cost of joining a business program in the UK, but you may need to consider other types of costs during your studentship journey, starting from your student visa, flight expenses, accommodation, living and transport expenses, utility bills (in case you are living outside university dorms, as this is normally built in the accommodation cost), books and other learning materials (if not covered as part of the tuition fees) and other hospitality costs for social events and graduation ceremonies,” says Michael.

LOOK OUT FOR HIDDEN COSTS TO BOND WITH CLASSMATES

Also, don’t forget that train travel in the UK is far higher than it is in continental Europe, so commuting by public transport isn’t necessarily a cheap option and can eat into your budget. Finally, for some students the character of the town or city where they will be living matters. Picturesque, Georgian Bath is popular with Chinese students these days.

“When you have a list of, say, five schools that you would be happy to study at, then do compare the cost of living in those cities,” says Chris Healy. “In terms of transport and given the location of Alliance Manchester Business School and I always advise applicants to live in the city centre of Manchester to truly immerse themselves in the city and its people. That means no transport costs, as you can walk everywhere and to campus.”

Hidden costs can include fees for student activities and competitions. Alliance pays most of the cost for students to take part in the MBAT at French business school HEC (the MBA tournament, a sporting competition between MBAs at schools from all over the world), but other schools may not do this, and events like this can be once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

STAY VIGILANT ABOUT VISA CHANGES

FIVE: Check for changes in the visa regime. As mentioned above the visa regime for all international students in the UK is generous and allows them to stay for two years after graduation – they are entitled to a “Tier 4 visa” (which incidentally at the time of writing made them exempt from the covid related travel ban from India).

 It hasn’t always been that way. A few years ago, the government decided to include students in its immigration figures, which discouraged universities and business schools from taking overseas students. Thankfully, that was reversed in late 2019 and the “post-study work visa” means that all students who started their courses in autumn 2020 and afterwards can stay in the UK for two years after graduation.

This is welcome, of course, for all students and especially pre-experience master’s ones. However, potential students should keep an eye on the situation. It is not impossible that the UK’s populist government could once again move to make it harder for international students to stay in the UK. That said, it is far more likely that the system might even be further relaxed. The UK government is keen to do a trade deal with India in order to show that Brexit has benefits.

It is widely accepted that India wants a relaxation of the visa system to allow more Indians to come to the UK for longer. Indian student could find themselves in even more demand than ever.

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