British Council
Features | Further Education

A Once-In-A-Lifetime
UK Experience

As the UK’s international cultural relations organisation, the British Council supports students as they journey towards and through their UK education. It assists them as they decide which university to pursue a world-class UK education and gain an internationally respected qualification.

TThink of the United Kingdom and images of Shakespeare, football, vast green fields and rich, historical buildings conjure up in our heads. As a place replete with offerings of multi-cultural festivals, plays and unique industries, the UK affords those who live there new and diverse perspectives. These perspectives acquired allow them to gain meaningful insights into the rest of Europe and the world.

This is why the UK remains a popular study destination among students. Guaranteed to give one unparalleled experiences, a UK education exposes students to rich intellectual and cultural views from Western philosophers and the community, and comprises events that will always remain etched on one’s memory.

We talk to two students, Bryan Kuah and Nur Hisyam, who are currently reaping the benefits of a rich UK education. They give us first-hand accounts of their unique UK experiences and share with us about their undergraduate lives in the University of Manchester and University of York respectively.

What motivated you to pursue your studies in the UK?

Bryan Kuah: During my time in Hwa Chong Institution, I participated in exchange programmes and was sent to both the Academy of Science in Virginia, US and Beijing, China. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with students from different countries, learning about their culture and experiencing a way of life different from one in Singapore.

Bryan Kuah

Studying: Bachelor of Laws,
University of Manchester, UK

"It is also important to keep an open mind and make full use of the various opportunities that an overseas education will undoubtedly provide."

Given that I chose to study Law, I wanted to do so in the UK because a law degree from a UK university really sets you on a career path of countless opportunities. I also marvelled at the prospect of being able to travel to countries in Europe during weekends or my holidays because I enjoy visiting countries that are rich in tradition and history.

Nur Hisyam: My strongest motivation for studying in the UK was the different academic atmosphere particularly with regards to Philosophy. I always felt that I wanted to do my undergraduate studies in a country that shaped the academic setting for my specific field of interest.

I was thus set on studying in the UK due to its role in the philosophical development of contemporary philosophy and its proximity to the various European institutions that were once home to prominent Western philosophers. The UK is also well-known for understanding the value of philosophical discourse, thereby allowing me to apply aspects of philosophy in an environment that respects it and ensuring my UK education is fruitful.

Share with us a highlight of your time in your respective universities.

Bryan: The main highlight was being elected as the President of the Singapore Student’s Society of Manchester. This role allowed me to work alongside several talented and motivated individuals in my committee, and together we organised dinners and social gatherings to create a home away from home for Singaporean students in Manchester.

I am also a first-team member of the University of Manchester’s water polo team. We constantly travel out of Manchester to other parts of the UK for our water polo games – for instance, we took a 10-hour road trip to Cardiff for a day tournament which was certainly a refreshing experience. I really felt like a professional athlete!

Hisyam: I have had so many rich experiences in university – it’s really difficult to pick just one highlight! From performing magic tricks as part of the Magic Society and going skydiving as part of the Skydiving Society, to doing my first backflip in Gymnastics, I have been given invaluable experiences that contribute to a holistic university life. One experience that stands out is my work as a student caller with the university alumni office. This allowed me to interact with many alumni members who have entered diverse jobs, and, as a result, I learnt much about post-university life not just in the UK but in Europe as well.

What makes an education in the UK so unique?

Bryan: Studying in the UK has allowed me to open my eyes to new cultures and various ways of living. The very fact that students in the UK can travel easily to different countries at a relatively low cost means that we are able to experience first-hand the different traditions and unique culture that each city possesses.

Students who pursue a UK education will also have the privilege of developing a global perspective. This is crucial especially in Singapore, a country that is generally regarded as a metropolitan city and where professionals from all over the world work in. I also find that I have much more free time to pursue areas in my studies that really appeal to me, as compared to my time in Singapore.

Nur Hisyam bin Abdul Nasser

Studying: Bachelor of Arts Philosophy,
University of York, UK

Hisyam: What makes my UK education unique is the surprising lack of emphasis on actual grades. Ever since I started my studies here, I have never once been pressured by my tutors about my grades and have been repeatedly told to take up modules based on interest rather than the level of difficulty. This might not necessarily be unique, but it is definitely different from what I was normally used to before coming to the UK. It is refreshing to have a change of pace studying here.

The other thing I did not expect from my university was how involved the respective course supervisors were with the undergraduates. They would never hesitate to check in on my well-being and often invited me for tea just to have a chat or discussion about my course materials. This active involvement with students shows how committed they are in ensuring that students remain their priority.

What advice do you have for students who wish to further their studies in the UK?

Bryan: It is imperative to attend information sessions provided by your respective schools or by the British Council. The representatives at these information sessions will give you valuable information and pointers derived from their years of experience in dealing with students in the UK. It is also important to keep an open mind and make full use of the various opportunities that an overseas education will undoubtedly provide.

Hisyam: It is important to do your research, ask around for opinions and carefully decide if you are willing to study in another country. If you do decide to come to the UK, my advice is to enjoy yourself! Even though you are coming here for an education, be sure to soak up all the fun and excitement that the UK has to offer. I know that I have had absolutely no regrets coming.