Home » A world of possibilities: Scholarships and studying in the UK

A world of possibilities: Scholarships and studying in the UK

Students walk beside one of the colleges at the University of Oxford. — AFP/File

Step into a world of limitless possibilities while studying in the UK where academic excellence meets innovation. From world-recognised universities and an amazing student experience to an innovative teaching approach and the leading minds who deliver it, studying in the UK offers everything you need to reach your potential. Explore the numerous benefits of studying in the UK and the various scholarships available to Pakistani students.

The United Kingdom stands out as a top destination for higher education, boasting impressive credentials. As of February 2024, the number of student visas issued for Pakistani students in 2023 surged to 31,093, marking a significant 11.4% percent increase from the previous year (2022). This surge is a testament to the appeal of UK education, driven by its rich educational history and a culture that fosters global perspectives.

Being home to some of the world’s most prestigious universities, the UK also hosts two of the world’s top three universities and boasts 26 institutions among the top 200 globally, according to QS figures from 2024. Additionally, three UK universities feature in the top 10 list of the Times Higher Education World University Ranking 2024. These institutions are renowned for their rigorous academic standards, innovative research, and distinguished faculty members who are leaders in their fields. The master’s degree programmes are a significant draw for international students, particularly Pakistani students. These programmes offer extensive transformational instruction in just 12 months, comprising a combination of classes, projects, studies, and papers. Compared to other countries where postgraduate programmes last two years, this model allows students to start working almost a year earlier, providing a competitive advantage and being more cost-effective.

Graduates from UK universities are among the most employable in the world. According to the QS Graduate Employability Rankings, UK graduates are highly sought after by employers globally. This is supported by a Universities UK International (UUKI) report, which states that 83 percent of international graduates believe their UK degree helped them secure a job. The UK’s focus on developing practical skills that are in high demand by employers ensures that graduates are well-prepared for the job market.

Scholarships and financial support

One of the significant concerns for international students is the cost of studying abroad. However, the UK offers a variety of scholarships and financial support options to help mitigate these costs. These options range from partial funding, which contributes towards tuition fees, to full funding, which covers program fees, living costs, and return airfare to the UK.

Visit the scholarships page on the Study UK website: https://studyuk.britishcouncil.org/scholarships-funding and QR code below to find out about UK government funding to institution-specific scholarships and global funding programmes such as GREAT Scholarships, Chevening Scholarships, Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships, British Council’s scholarships for women in STEM and many more.

GREAT Scholarships

Students with an undergraduate degree planning to enrol for a postgraduate course in the UK popularly opt for a GREAT Scholarship for financial support to study in the UK.

For the 2023-24 academic year, universities in the UK offered 21 postgraduate scholarships for Pakistani students, each of which provided a minimum of £10,000 to cover tuition fees for a one-year master’s program. Successful GREAT Scholars will be declared in June 2024 and for the next academic year, GREAT Scholarships will be announced in October 2024.

Last academic year, British Council and several higher education institutions in the UK have collaborated to offer these scholarships under the GREAT Britain Campaign of the UK government.

Additionally, there were two scholarships available for Pakistani students enrolling in Justice and Law at the University of Strathclyde and the University of York. The University of Kent and Cranfield University are also offering 1 scholarship each to students interested in climate change and environmental sciences.

The complete list of participating higher education institutions for the academic year 2023-24 was: Arts University Bournemouth; Cardiff University; Cranfield University; Goldsmiths, University of London; Imperial College London; Keele University; Robert Gordon University; University of Bath; University of Birmingham; University of Derby; University of Essex; University of Kent; University of Leeds; University of Manchester; University of Strathclyde; and University of York. To find out more information, visit the specific university website and the relevant page and keep in mind the deadline varies according to each institution.

British Council scholarships for women in STEM

Designed especially for women with a background in STEM and the potential to inspire future generations of women to pursue careers in the field, STEM Scholarships help female students pursue master’s degree, or complete an early academic fellowship, in STEM subjects at a leading UK university. These scholarships include tuition fees, stipend, travel costs, visa, health coverage fees, special support for mothers, and English language support. From over 100 scholarship opportunities for the third cohort of the scholarships, 48 spots are open for women STEM scholars from Pakistan and other South Asian countries alone.

Applications are currently closed and for the academic year 2025-26, dates will be posted online around February 2025.

For more information visit: https://www.britishcouncil.pk/british-council-scholarships-women-stem

Commonwealth scholarships

Commonwealth Scholarships are highly competitive scholarships provided by the UK government to provide financial assistance to talented international students from across the Commonwealth nations who wish to pursue a postgraduate degree in the UK.

As part of the UK’s ongoing commitment to the Commonwealth, each year, around 700 students are given the chance to undertake postgraduate degrees with UK universities.

These scholarships are funded by the UK government and administered by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission in the United Kingdom (CSCUK).

The applications for the academic year 2024-25 are now closed. Commonwealth Master’s and PhD Scholarships for 2025/26 will be announced later this year in late September or early October 2024.

The eligibility criteria for each type of scholarship and fellowship vary. More information is available on the CSC website.

The UK’s commitment to supporting international students extends beyond graduation. The Graduate Route allows students who have completed an undergraduate or master’s degree to stay in the UK for up to two years to work or seek employment, with PhD graduates eligible to stay for up to three years. This initiative provides a valuable platform for graduates to gain practical experience and further enhance their employability in the global job market.

The student experience

Studying in the UK is not just about academic learning; it is also about experiencing a vibrant and diverse culture. The UK offers a rich blend of historical and modern attractions, from the bustling streets of London to the tranquil beauty of the countryside. International students can explore new cultures, develop a global network, and engage in a variety of extracurricular activities.

Cultural diversity

The UK is known for its cultural diversity and inclusive environment. Students from all over the world come to the UK to study, creating a multicultural atmosphere that enriches the educational experience. This diversity helps students develop a global perspective and fosters an environment of mutual respect and understanding.

Extracurricular Activities: UK universities offer a wide range of extracurricular activities, from sports and arts to student societies and volunteer opportunities. These activities provide students with the chance to pursue their interests, develop new skills, and build lifelong friendships.

Support Services: UK universities are committed to supporting their international students. They offer a range of services to help students adjust to life in the UK, including orientation programmes, academic support, career counselling, and mental health services. These support services ensure that students have the resources they need to succeed academically and personally.

Studying in the UK means becoming part of a global and well-connected alumni network. Pakistani alumni from UK universities have made significant contributions to their communities and industries in Pakistan. These alumni are examples of how a UK education can equip individuals with the skills and knowledge to make a positive impact.

A graduate of Cranfield University, Dr Sarah Qureshi, is the CEO and co-founder of Aero Engine Craft, a company that develops eco-friendly jet engines to reduce global warming. Her work exemplifies how a UK education can equip individuals with the skills and knowledge to address global challenges.

A graduate of Imperial College London, Yaruq Nadeem, has generated significant revenue and start-up funding, leading to the creation of over 150 start-ups and 4,500+ jobs. His achievements demonstrate the entrepreneurial spirit and innovation fostered by UK universities.

Hear from current and former international students from Pakistan about their UK studies:

‘In the UK, my education was much more than a qualification’

Dr Falak Syed did her master’s in forensic odontology at the University of Dundee before going back to Pakistan, where she’s now proud to work as one of the first, and to date only, female forensic odontologists in the country. She credits much of her success to her UK studies, where she became an expert in her field.

‘As part of my course,’ she says, ‘I worked with local police and mortuaries.’ ‘To be able to apply my learning so directly to the real world gave me a huge sense of purpose and was very different from studying theory in a lecture hall.’ ‘The sense of professionalism and confidence I developed in the UK was extremely important to my career.’

‘The UK is very welcoming to international students’

Ayman Tanveer graduated with a distinction from her master’s in renewable energy and enterprise management from Newcastle University in September 2022. Her studies were fully funded through the British Council’s Women in STEM Scholarship, which, she says, ‘changed [her] life in a way that [she] cannot express in words.’ ‘Since receiving the scholarship] I am even more ambitious than I was before in working toward my goals.’

‘I went to Newcastle University as I wanted to study at a prestigious institution and do a course which offered a perfect blend of technical and management skills.’ During her dissertation research on ‘Unplastic the future of the UK food industry,’ she learnt many new online surveying techniques and how to use data analysis software. She also reflects on the impact of the support she received from academic staff, particularly her dissertation supervisor. ‘[My supervisor’s] continuous feedback and advice related to my dissertation, cultural adjustments in a new education system as an international student, and career prospects made my work more productive’.

‘Outside of academics, I enjoyed my student experience. The UK is very welcoming to international students and the societies here are so diverse and cater to the needs of students from all different backgrounds. I felt at home when I joined the Islamic society and made some international friends. Ramadan in Newcastle was really special. There was a mosque on campus which would call together Muslim students from the surrounding areas to do iftar together each day of the month.’

If you are already a UK Alumni, register yourself today!

The British Council’s new global Alumni UK portal is for people from around the world who have studied in the UK as an international student. By joining our online portal, you can grow your worldwide professional network, continue your learning as well as share your experiences with others. You will have access to webinars, masterclasses, and resources to help you develop your skills and identify new opportunities. In addition, you will be able to keep up to date with face-to-face trainings and annual networking opportunities happening around you. Registration is free for all UK Alumni, who have undertaken studies with a UK university.

Sign up with us today: https://alumniuk.britishcouncil.org/