Political system: Constitutional monarchy
Capital city: London
Total area: 244 820 km²
Population: 61.7 million
Currency: pound sterling
Official EU language: English
The United Kingdom (UK) consists of England, Wales, Scotland (who together make up Great Britain) and Northern Ireland. The UK’s geography is varied, and includes cliffs along some coastlines, highlands and lowlands and many islands off the coast of Scotland. The highest mountain is Ben Nevis in Scotland which reaches a height of 1 344m.
The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy. The main chamber of parliament is the lower house, the House of Commons, which has 646 members elected by universal suffrage. About 700 people are eligible to sit in the upper house, the House of Lords, including life peers, hereditary peers, and bishops. There is a Scottish parliament in Edinburgh with wide-ranging local powers, and a Welsh Assembly in Cardiff which has more limited authority for Welsh affairs but can legislate in some areas.
The English account for more than 80% of the population. The Scots make up nearly 10% and the Welsh and Northern Irish most of the rest. The UK is also home to diverse immigrant communities, mainly from its former colonies in the West Indies, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Africa.
The economy – one of the largest in the EU – is increasingly services-based although it maintains industrial capacity in high-tech and other sectors. The City of London is a world centre for financial services.
Home of the Industrial Revolution, the United Kingdom has produced many great scientists and engineers including Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin. The father of modern economics, Adam Smith, was a Scot. English literature has produced an endless stream of poets, dramatists, essayists and novelists from Geoffrey Chaucer via Shakespeare and his contemporaries to a plethora of modern writers such as J. K. Rowling and the Nobel Prizewinner, Doris Lessing.
There are many regional and traditional specialities to tempt the visitor to the United Kingdom. For example, in Scotland you might try Arbroath smokies (lightly cooked smoked haddock), or in Northern Ireland why not start your day with an Ulster fry (fried bacon, egg, sausage, soda farls and potato bread)? A traditional speciality in Wales is laverbread (seaweed) made into small cakes with Welsh oatmeal, fried and served with eggs, bacon and cockles. A traditional dish from the north of England is the Lancashire hotpot made with lamb or beef, potatoes and onions.
Approximately 1.8 million students are currently enrolled in the UK higher education system. There are over 160 government funded higher education institutions in the UK (130 of which are based in England).
According to The Times Higher Education ranking system, the U.K has 3 establishments in the top 10 of world universities. Namely – The University of Oxford, The University of Cambridge and The Imperial College of London.
Cost of Living
The U.K is notorious for being expensive, but to your surprise this is not always the case. Of course it depends on the city, if you are going to study in ‘the big 5’ and surrounding areas (London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham and Leeds) expect your budget to be higher. The price of your monthly food budget can be reduced by shopping in low cost outlets such as Pound-Stretcher, Lidl and Aldi. However, please also bear in mind that the mainstream supermarkets always compete to offer the best prices, which is undoubtedly good for the consumer. Unfortunately for some, alcohol & cigarette are expensive, in supermarkets expect to pay around £15.00 for a litre of vodka and around £7.00 for a pack of 20 cigarettes. On a positive note, night clubs/student pubs can be incredibly cheap, in some cases a vodka (5cl) and coke can cost as little as £0.80.
Renting accommodation in university allocated accommodation is usually overpriced; more often than not it does not represent value for money. It is strongly recommended to look for accommodation through private means – http://www.studentpad.co.uk/ is a good example of this.
However, if you are willing to pay the price: university accommodation locations are usually very close to the campus/library (possibly student night club), constant partying is to be expected.
If you want more information on studying in the U.K please check out: