Whether you’re still deciding on courses or you’re packing your bags, you can always contact our staff to help you along. Yes there is paperwork and yes there are decisions to make around course selection, housing preferences, dates, travel necessities, registration, budgeting and more. Our staff can walk you through it all.
Once you apply to Arcadia, our program advisors are in regular contact with you about the status of your application and they send out extensive information that will prepare you to go abroad, including information on culture, politics, history and the local higher education system.
Once you arrive, our staff will meet you and introduce you to your accommodation and your orientation program will begin – to help you settle in academically, practically, culturally and socially.
Although one should never generalize about another culture or try, in a few words, to describe such idiosyncratic institutions as another country's universities, this section does both. Arcadia believes it is critical to be prepared for immersion in the British educational system by describing some of its important characteristics. Here are a few things we think it will be helpful for you to know.
When you compare statistics on postsecondary education in Britain with those on higher education in the United States, you are immediately struck by the great differences in scale.
America has lots of universities, and many very large ones. We have some 2,100 four-year, postsecondary institutions, more than 50 of which have enrollments in excess of 25,000 students.
In all of the United Kingdom (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales) there are about 115 universities and another 140 "colleges" of such specialties as fine arts, music and drama, technology or education.
A typical British university enrolls 6,000 to 12,000 students, with only the very largest one or two accommodating more than 20,000. (The exception is Britain's Open University, a non-residential institution, which serves more than 20,000 students.)
A far smaller proportion of students attend colleges and universities in Britain than in the United States. While more than half of the high school graduates in the United States every year go on to a postsecondary educational program of some kind, in the United Kingdom only about one-third do. 65% of British secondary school graduates have finished their formal education at the age of 17 or 18. They will spend the rest of their productive lives working (and receiving on-the-job training) or looking for work.
The students who go on to college are very well-prepared to do so. During the last two years of high school they specialize in college preparatory courses (many of which are similar to the advanced placement courses available in U.S. high schools) and then they take special national examinations ("A-level" exams or "Scottish leaving examinations") in order to qualify to compete for acceptance to a university program.
It is during this process of studying for their end-of-high-school examinations that most British students acquire that breadth of academic knowledge and understanding which we in North America would recognize as the fundamental components of a liberal education.
By the time they get to university level, most British students are prepared to concentrate on a particular subject, and they are expected to do so.
In the United Kingdom, students are admitted not to a university as a whole but to a specific course of study within it. They are accepted, for example, to study chemistry at King's College, or to study English at the University of Aberdeen.
The idea that a student might usefully pursue courses in three or four different academic departments during a given semester is a North American one. It is not a practice followed on the other side of the Atlantic.
A political science major, for example, will take almost all of his/her courses each semester in the political science department. That student might be allowed to "minor" in another subject closely related to the "major" (for example, history or international relations or law) or may be in a "joint honors" (double major) program, but this individual would never encounter a requirement to pass a course in mathematics or English or music appreciation in order to complete undergraduate degree requirements.
The point here is that the host country students with whom you will be studying are much more restricted in their choices of courses than you are or will be.
Most bachelor's degree programs in the United Kingdom are three years (6 semesters or 9 terms) long. This abbreviated time period recognizes that students engage in focused work in a narrow range of discipline as undergraduates.
The exception to this generalization is in Scotland, where many undergraduate degree programs are four years long (which leaves many Scottish graduates feeling that they have earned the equivalent of an American master's degree).
Arcadia program students frequently find themselves enrolled in second year courses. This does not mean that an American junior is being demoted to sophomore level; it means, rather, that the course which is appropriate for you is the one which is taught the year before graduation.
In a three-year degree program, this would be a second-year course. Arcadia program students are often successful in some third year British courses and many take first year courses in disciplines in which they've had no previous background.
Probably the key difference between higher education in the United Kingdom and that with which you are familiar in the United States comes in the approach which the host institution will have to you as a student.
They will assume that you are a serious learner. You should understand from the outset that nobody at the host institution feels an obligation to teach you. You should expect to find instructors who are glad to lecture, happy to discuss, pleased to read and to criticize what you have written and who are interested in responding to what you have to say.
You will find those same instructors equally willing to leave you alone, to let you attend or not, to permit you to choose to turn in assignments or not, to allow you to set your own pace.
It would be highly unusual for British instructors to go out of their way to ensure that you are doing your work. Chances are that you will not be closely monitored, you will not have your hand held, you will not be told (without asking) how or when to do all the work that you should be doing.
There are, however, expectations. You will be expected to turn in assigned papers and to perform successfully on examinations. In order to do these things, you will need to have done, on your own, a fair amount of reading on, thinking about and perhaps even discussing of the topics covered in the course.
You will find academic subjects presented in a variety of ways: large lectures (you are probably familiar with these in the United States), smaller classes (these are usually conducted by the lecturer or by an assistant to the lecturer and frequently focus on topics that are dealt with in the lectures), and seminars (here an instructor and up to twenty students gather to discuss readings that might have been done or papers which might have been written by members of the seminar group).
Most courses rely heavily on your doing a good deal of reading during your non-scheduled time. The list of readings which is distributed by the instructor on (or near) the first day of class can be quite intimidating. As many as 50 or more books and articles can appear on the reading list. The instructor responsible for the course will expect you to "look into" several of these works. He or she may not want to tell you which ones.
As an intelligent student who is responsible for his/her own intellectual development, you will be expected to decide which materials to read. You will be encouraged to find themes among them that are of interest to you and then to do further reading on those themes. You may then be asked to write a paper setting forth your analysis of one or more of these themes. When this happens, be sure to find out what's meant by the term "paper" and, if you can, ascertain the instructor's expectations concerning form, length, citation of sources, etc.
Examination timetables in Great Britain are usually not set until at least halfway into the semester. It is imperative that you attend your assigned exam time. No exceptions will be made, except possibly in cases of true emergency. If you do not fulfill your academic responsibilities and do not complete your examinations as scheduled, you may fail any affected courses, and Arcadia will not be able to intercede on your behalf in such cases.
Almost invariably you will be expected to "sit" an examination at the end of each of your courses. In some courses, this final examination may be the only evaluation of your work. It is thus possible, in a full-year course, to come to a three-hour time slot at the end of the year during which you must demonstrate, by answering a few questions, that you have read widely, thought deeply and learned something of significance during the preceding nine months. Generally there will be fewer assessed papers and tests in British classes than you are used to.
Please note that due to the nature of the British academic calendar, many programs will have a month-long Easter/spring break followed by a 4-6 week exam period with few or no classes being held. It is possible for students to potentially have no exams at the beginning and only have exams at the end of this time slot with a lot of unstructured time in between. Exam timetables vary widely depending on what you are studying and on individual university and departmental policies. As the exam timetables are not set until much later in the semester, it is impossible to advise about this in advance of your arrival, so you must be prepared for potentially having unstructured, independent time to study during the exam period.
The emphasis in the UK is on producing comprehensive work that shows both the breadth of your reading and the originality of your approach to a subject. American students find it particularly challenging to be expected to summarize the work of an entire semester or year in one or two papers and/or a single three-hour examination period.
Nearly every university provides special tutorial sessions on paper-writing and/or exam-taking for their own students, which you should plan to attend if you are not certain about these expectations.
Clearly, your academic life will be different overseas. You wouldn't want it to be exactly like home, would you? It's a challenge. It can even be fun. It's an opportunity to show what you can do pretty much on your own. You have already demonstrated an ability to handle the academic work - if you couldn't, you wouldn't have been accepted. Now what you will need to discover is how to continue being a successful student in quite different surroundings.
As a general rule, you will be expected to take charge of your education in Britain. You must be certain you know how you are being assessed in each of your classes, since the patterns vary quite widely, even within the same university. You will be required to take any examination and/or special assessment for which you qualify during the period you are in attendance at the university.
The role of Arcadia University The College of Global Studies will be to help and support you throughout the academic process.
|American University||British University|
|Integrated Campus||Less Centralized|
|Reserve Section||Books ordered, recalled|
|24 hour access||9AM-7PM, limited weekends|
|Roommates, shared||Single rooms, usually|
|American University||British University|
|SATs, general requirements||'A' Level Exams, Scottish highers|
|Syllabus, texts, assignments||Lectures, reading lists, seminars|
|Broad, covers essentials||Narrow, specialized topic|
|Reach closure, follow leader||Open-ended, questions raised|
|American University||British University|
|Quizzes, exercises, mid-terms||Written work: one or two essays|
|Mixed format, reproduce knowledge||Essays, 3 hours, wide choice of topics|
|Thesis, sources, linear argument||Discursive, speculative, structured|
|Passing, 60-100%||Passing, 35-70%+|
Your program advisor will alert you via email when it is time to book your flight and provide pertinent logistics information at that time.
It’s important to think about all the expenses you are likely to incur while abroad so you and your family can plan ahead. Your program Fees section explains what your program fee does and does not cover, and will provide you with an overall estimate of expected expenses. For example, your airfare to Britain is not included in your program fee. It is important to note that the "Estimate of Additional Expenses" information is provided for planning purposes only, and may vary according to your own personal spending habits.
|Full program fee (including $500 deposit)||$|
|Meals (#program weeks _ x $ _ per wk)|
|Special Courses Fee|
|Stafford Loan (deduct 5% for origination fees)|
|Other financial aid|
You will soon become an expert at international banking transactions…
Before you leave the US contact your bank and/or credit card company to let them know that you will be studying abroad – where and for how long.
If your ATM card is linked to the Plus or Cirrus systems, your card will work in thousands of cash machines throughout the country. The advantage to using your American ATM card is that you will be assessed the wholesale exchange rate that applies to large foreign currency transactions. That said, have other sources of money in case your ATM card does not work.
You can use most credit cards in Europe but they must be in your name, as it appears on your passport. Visa and MasterCard are more widely accepted than American Express and Discover cards are not accepted in Britain but AmEx Offices can assist you with cashing US checks. Credit card cash advances are considered loans, so interest is charged from the day the advance is made. Before you depart, check with your card company for more information on what services you’ll have where, what fees are involved and what to do if you lose your card.
Opening a bank account in Great Britain can be a lengthy and tedious process. Therefore, we recommend that students use their American account. Talk to us if you need more details.
When the program is in session, our London office can make emergency loans to students. Students must sign a promissory note and repay the loan as soon as they receive money from home. If you find yourself in dire financial straits while traveling, the State Department can help your family transfer money to you (provided you are a U.S. citizen).
You will need immigration permission to study abroad in the United Kingdom with Arcadia - for some, this will mean applying for a visa in advance.. This may seem daunting but don’t worry – your program advisor will walk you through every step, and send you a complete Visa Pack with full instructions and details of everything you will need. If you are traveling internationally in the months leading up to your program start date, please let your program advisor know.
There are three types of student visas for the U.K.:
“Non-visa nationals” are able to obtain entry as a Visitor when they arrive in the U.K. after 1 December. The Visitor route allows people to enter the U.K. for 6 months, and allows study during this time. It replaces the Short Term Study Route. All U.S. citizens are classed as non-visa nationals by the U.K. government, and EU nationals will be added to this list from 1 January, when the Brexit transition period ends. All non-visa nationals (those NOT on the Visa Nationals list) will be able to obtain entry via the Visitor Route upon arrival in the U.K. as long as:
This means that most single-semester students will enter using this route, unless they are taking an internship.
There is no fee for this visa, but you may be asked to show certain documents at immigration when you arrive in the U.K. as evidence of what you will be doing there, so remember to have them handy:
Please note that if you enter on the Visitor Route visa you are not permitted to work or to participate in an internship. You are also not allowed to extend your study period without first departing the U.K.
This visa replaces the Short Term Study visa from 1st December, so if you are applying before that you will need apply for the old Short Term Study visa. This is for those who are classified as visa nationals and therefore must secure a visa before traveling - you can find a list at Appendix V here.
Online application for entry clearance (begin when you receive your Visa Pack).
All documents listed above which are required for the Short Term Student/Visitor Route.
Biometrics appointment: Enroll your fingerprints and facial image at a USCIS office.
For students applying from within the U.S., you will mail your complete visa application to the British Consulate in New York within two weeks of your biometrics appointment. When applying from your home country, the process varies.
This visa costs £97 (around USD $123). You will need entry clearance prior to arriving in the U.K. so when you receive your Visa Pack you may begin the process.
It is important to pay attention to the dates printed on your visa, which will indicate the time frame during which you are legally permitted to be in the U.K. You should ensure that you do not travel to the U.K. before your visa start date, and you will need to depart the U.K. before your visa end date.
Your visa is not valid before your visa start date. Similarly, overstaying your visa is a serious offense and could result in deportation.
Please note that if you hold a Short Term Study or Visitor visa you are not permitted to work or to participate in an internship. You are also not allowed to extend your study period without first departing the U.K.
This visa costs £348 (around USD $461). You will need entry clearance prior to arriving in the U.K., so you should begin your application when prompted by your Program Advisor.
Online application for entry clearance.
Biometrics appointment: Enroll your fingerprints and facial image at a USCIS office.
For students applying from within the U.S., you will mail your completed visa application to the British Consulate in New York within two weeks of your biometrics appointment. When applying from your home country, the process varies.
If you’re studying for less than 6 months your visa will be on a sticker in your passport.
If you’re studying in the U.K. for more than 6 months your Student visa will be valid for 30 days (at the moment it is valid for 90 days, but this is a temporary measure due to Coronavirus). When you enter the U.K., you will have 10 days to go to a designated Post Office and collect your Biometric Residency Permit, which will grant you permission to stay for the full length of your program. It is very important that you obtain this document within the allotted 10-day period unless there is a good reason you cannot do this (for example, you are quarantining).
Students studying for more than six months: You will be required to pay a £470 Immigration Health Surcharge as part of your initial visa application.
FOR NON-US STUDENTS ONLY - If English is not the native language of your home country, you will also need to submit an IELTS test score sheet less than 2 years old which shows that you've achieved at least 5.5 in all areas. Please reach out to your Program Advisor if this applies to you.
You will need certain details from Arcadia in order to apply for your visa, and you may need to provide additional documents as evidence that you have sufficient funds. Your Program Advisor will send you more information about this. It’s very important that you do not apply until you have all the information and documents you need. You can also find further guidance at UKCISA.