That’s a big question. With over 7,500 Singaporeans studying in the UK last year alone, there are many different reasons depending who you ask: British culture and history, language and the arts, and more tangible reasons like the UK’s prestige in research and STEM. But there’s a lot more to this English-speaking gateway to Europe.
Maybe the best place to start your considerations is of course… value!
There are many ways to calculate the value of an education overseas. Right now the GBP is at historic lows, making the UK better value than ever for Singaporean students when it comes to paying for big ticket items like tuition fees, but there’s more to value than just today’s latest forex rate.
Let’s tackle the most tangible number first – namely, your cost of living. According to sites like Numbeo, the UK’s average cost of living is #27 worldwide, making it far cheaper than other more expensive English-speaking study destinations like Ireland (#13), Australia (#16), New Zealand (#17), the USA (#20), Canada (#24), and even Singapore, which not surprisingly comes in very high at #9. (Majulah -_-)
While those numbers aren’t absolutes, overall it shows the UK offers better value-for-money in all the key areas that affect your quality of life as a student, from the cost of rent, to food, transport, and entertainment.
Then there’s the less tangible, but equally important impact it will have on your later life.
When you think about the value of an education, you are looking very long-term, over your entire lifetime. By that measure the UK is one of the best return-on-investment decisions many people ever make, with 90% of international students in the UK stating they are satisfied with their learning experience and the support they receive from their universities.
Shorter Study Duration
Closely related to the UK’s value proposition, but also an equally important factor on its own, is course duration. Because after all, time = money. A shorter time spent studying also gives you a jumpstart on your future career.
With an average duration of just 3 years for an Undergraduate (Honours) degree course in England, Northern Ireland, or Wales, the UK manages to pack into 3 years, what many other countries do in 4 years. Postgraduate courses in the UK are also shorter than in other countries, many taking just 1 year to complete. This means you can get better value for money and start applying your knowledge in the real world a lot sooner.
World Class Research and Facilities
Research is an important part of UK universities, and UK schools and lecturers are among the most respected in their fields worldwide. To help ensure the UK’s R&D quality remains world-class, the UK government conducts the REF, or Research Excellence Framework, which is the UK’s system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education.
The result? We have UK universities to thank for everything from saving lives, by inventing penicillin (Oxford), fibre optics (Imperial College), ultrasound scans (U. of Glasgow), and MRIs (U. of Nottingham), to answering some of the biggest questions in the universe, like the Big Bang (by none other than Stephen Hawking, Cambridge), and learning we’re all actually made of stardust (also courtesy of Cambridge).
While there are many different league tables ranking schools, including the Financial Times and QS, all of them agree the UK is home to many of the world’s top universities, with 4 of the top 10 in the world according to QS’s 2020 rankings. These include Oxford (#4), Cambridge (#7), UCL (#8), and Imperial College (#9), and many more in the top 50 including LSE, Bristol, and Manchester.
Finally of course, there’s the lifestyle aspects of studying in the UK.
There’s no shame in admitting you’re a fan of the royal family, especially if you’re studying in the UK, where the Queen has a popularity rating of 70%, while Prince William’s popularity is an astounding 74%. The Queen herself makes hundreds of public appearances per year, so you may well be lucky enough to see her (and her corgis!), in person.
If you’re into EPL then you’ll already know that you’ll be the envy of your friends back home who can only dream of literally kissing the ground their idols walk on.
The UK in recent years has also produced a bucket-load of popular TV series on the global stage, so there’s a chance you can stumble upon a film set. Just imagine: Game of Thrones. Sherlock. Dr. Who. The Great British Bake-Off.
History & Culture
From the Globe Theatre to the British Museum, first-hand access to centuries of history is literally at your fingertips in the UK. And it’s not just in London! With free entry to most museums, and many other famous attractions, you can literally drink up your fill of history and culture by simply strolling around cities like Bath, Canterbury, or Edinburgh.
Or you can literally drink up your history in some of the UK’s oldest pubs, like Nottingham’s Ye Olde Trip to Jeruselum (est. in 1189), or the purportedly even older Ye Old Fighting Cocks in St. Albans. Either way, there are many ye olde pubs in the UK, with centuries of history, making even a simple night out with friends a living history lesson (or at least that’s what you can tell your parents).
If that’s convinced you, and you want to find out how to take the next steps, check out more information online at the Study UK website here.
If you’re still not convinced, may we suggest watching the 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony video (see below) to get a better idea of what the UK is all about. Starring the Queen and her corgis, Monty, Willow, and Holly! And also some guy called Daniel Craig.