I realized that most people coming to this blog after they googled about “studying in UK”. Recently, some Indonesian students contacted me about that query. I think, it’s the time for me to share what I know about this topic so that the information can reach more people out there. I will divide the post into 3 parts. The first part (this post) is about the preparation while you are still in Indonesia. The second part will be about the study in UK itself. And finally, the last part is going to be about finding friends, accommodations, living costs, etc. Hope you find this useful. 🙂
So, the first thing you need to do to apply for a Master program in UK (and I think in most of foreign countries) is to graduate from the university. You may apply before you graduated, but that is risky. Your graduation certificate is in your hand, and it’s time for you to think about the specific subject that you want to study. Then you can browse for the UK universities offering that program. You can find the list of UK universities, along with the programs that they offer in EducationUK‘s website.
The study period for most of the Master programs in UK is one academic year (2 semesters). Yes, it is relatively short. But it’s tiring. Believe me! There are some types of masters, such as MSc, MA, MRes, MEng. etc. I took an MRes degree last year. This degree requires you to conduct a research project as the main requirement to complete your masters. The credits for that research project alone is 100 ECTS, whilst the other 100 ECTS are the credits for all of the theoretical subjects that you take in the first semester. MSc degree is a masters by coursework or it is called “taught master”. However, if you take a master program in medical science (and life science also, I think), although you are an MSc student, you still need to conduct a short period (around 6 weeks) of research before you obtain your degree. MA degree will be given to those students who take such majors as architecture, journalism, music, literature, something like that. MEng is Master of Engineering. There’s an MBA for business students, as well.
After you have found the right universities and the specific program, you have to apply through the online application system. Most of the UK universities do not charge you for the application. However, as far as I know, Oxford University and Cambridge University charge GBP 50 for every application that you make. So, maybe you can also consider that before you decide to apply.
The application consisted of some sections. The most important ones, in my opinion, are motivation letter and references. Motivation letter should be brief and not exceeding 1 A4 page. UK universities usually ask you to provide the contact details of at least two academic referees. Ideally, those referees should be the people who are familiar with your academic performance. You can ask your thesis advisor or one of your lecturers in the university to write recommendation letters for you.
There is a section in the application form where you need to provide the information about your English language test. Normally, UK universities need your IELTS score. They accept TOEFL score, as well. For this matter, the universities are very strict. Your application will be rejected, even if your score just 1 point below the minimum requirement. In some special cases, they will accept you though, but you need to do a pre-sessional English course before you begin your studies. And it will cost you more money, of course! For a Master degree, the minimum IELTS total score requirement is 6.5 or IBT TOEFL score of 90. Just keep in your mind, if you want to give them a TOEFL score, they just accept IBT TOEFL and not the Paper Based TOEFL. So, I suggest you just send them your IELTS score. It’s far easier and simpler for you!
If you have fulfilled all of the requirements and your qualification meets their criteria, you will received an offer letter about 1-2 months after you submitted your online application.
Next step is about finding a scholarship. I’m sure this one is the most interesting for you, scholarship hunters. There are a lot of scholarships available, if you want to search for that. Most of Indonesian coming to the UK with Chevening Scholarship. Yes, those brilliant people. The pre-requirement to apply for this scholarship is a 2-year working experience. So, this is scholarship is definitely not for you, fresh-graduates. And also, the Chevening scholarship holders are required to come back to Indonesia after they finish their studies in UK. Another scholarship is “Beasiswa Unggulan” provided by Dikti. This scholarship do not require you to come back to Indonesia after you have done with your studies in UK. There are also some scholarships that available for people from all nationalities. The most common one is Erasmus Mundus (EM). This scholarship is highly competitive, but sometimes all you need is just a little bit of luck to get this scholarship. lol. This scholarship requires you to do a 2 year Masters in at least 2 European countries. EM scholarship holders must be mobile, indeed. I knew 2 Indonesian friends who were EM students while I was in Newcastle. If you want to know more about EM directly from the EM holders, maybe I can try to give you their contact. Last, but not least, most of the UK universities provide scholarships for international students. But remember, they will not give you a full scholarship for master degree. The maximum amount is 50 % reduction towards the tuition fee. When I was doing my Master, I received a scholarship from Newcastle University. I got around 20 % reduction of the tuition fee. It was not much, but it’s okay. I’m still grateful for that. 🙂
The last section of this post will be about visa application. It’s a little bit tricky. You can refer to all of the informations in the VFS website regarding the student Tier 4 visa application. This is a company which has been appointed by the British Embassy to deal with all of the visa applications. It’s located in Plaza Asia Building Jalan Jenderal Sudirman, Jakarta. Just bear in your mind that what you need to provide for UK student visa application is BANK STATEMENT, and NOT BANK REFERENCE. I got a problem 2 years ago because of this little misunderstanding. Currently all UK visa applications from Indonesian citizen is no longer being processed in Jakarta. So, you need to allow about 2 months processing time. The best time to start your visa application is right after you got a CAS from the university to which you apply.
So, that’s all the general pre-departure preparation that you need to do, I guess.
Good luck! Feel free to ask me if you need more infos. I’m always happy to share my experience with you guys. 🙂