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When it comes to choosing a university, students have several options all around the world.
For many pursuing higher education, the option to go abroad to study is very appealing.
The United Kingdom and India are both excellent choices. However, students should be aware of the key differences between universities in these two countries.
From the method of teaching to the variation in cultural aspects, there are several factors that distinguish the two from each other.
DESIblitz will explore some of the big differences between UK and Indian universities and how this may or may not appeal to students.
Teaching Style and Approach
One of the significant differences between UK and Indian universities is the teaching style and approach.
In the UK, universities focus on providing students with an education that covers theoretical and practical aspects of the subject.
Lessons are often more interactive, and students are encouraged to participate in discussions and debates to expand on ideas and build upon their learning.
Professors and lecturers also provide students with more autonomy, allowing them to pursue their interests and research topics that they find fascinating.
On the other hand, Indian universities have a more traditional approach to teaching.
Professors and lecturers are the primary sources of knowledge, and students are expected to listen and take notes.
Teaching has more of an emphasis on theory, with few practical opportunities to apply knowledge.
Indian universities also have a more formal approach to the relationship between students and teachers.
Students are expected to respect the authority of their professors and lecturers and be more formal when addressing them.
Admission Process and Requirements
In the UK, universities usually require students to submit an application form, academic transcripts, and a personal statement.
Some universities may also require students to attend an interview or take an admission test.
The main tool British students use is the University College Admission Services (UCAS).
Here, pupils can choose their university options, upload personal documents and also check the status of their application.
Indian universities have a more complex admission process.
Students are required to take an entrance exam, which is usually conducted at the national or state level.
The entrance exam is usually followed by a counseling process, where students are allotted seats based on their performance in the exam.
Academic Calendar and Schedule
Another significant difference between UK and Indian universities is the academic calendar and schedule.
In the UK, the academic year usually starts in September or October and ends in June or July, depending on the university.
The academic year is also divided into three terms or semesters, with breaks and holidays in between.
In contrast, Indian universities follow a different academic calendar. The academic year usually starts in July or August and ends in April or May.
Indian universities also have a more complicated schedule, with classes being conducted six days a week.
Cultural Aspects of University Life
In the UK, universities have a more diverse student population and there’s a great emphasis put on the university ‘experience’.
One of the main aspects of this journey is fresher’s week.
Here, new students have a week filled with partying, socialising and drinking where they get accustomed to independent life.
The once-in-a-lifetime event is a British university tradition.
In contrast, Indian universities tend not to have annual fresher’s weeks due to some families placing greater emphasis on home values and being a “good student”.
However, that does not mean there isn’t a rich cultural aspect.
While Indian universities do place importance on studying, many do put on events for celebrations such as Holi and Diwali.
Some universities have also begun to celebrate some western holidays and traditions as well.
For example, in 2023, Delhi University’s Lakshmibai College encouraged its students to celebrate Valentine’s day.
Types of Courses Offered
In the UK, universities offer a wide range of courses and programs, including undergraduate, postgraduate, and research degrees.
UK Universities also on average offer courses and programs that cover multiple areas of learning, rather than just specialising in one specific area.
On the other hand, Indian universities have more limited ranges with many of them offering the same courses and programs.
Courses such as museology and certain management courses are rare in India.
However, Indian universities provide more focus and support for undergraduate and postgraduate degrees that they do provide.
Research Opportunities and Resources Available
The research opportunities and resources available are also different in UK and Indian universities.
In the UK, universities have a strong focus on research, and students have several opportunities to participate in research projects.
Indian universities also have excellent research facilities, arguably better ones.
An example of this is the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, as it’s one of the world’s top research universities as per the citations per faculty indicator.
The grading system and evaluation criteria differ between the UK and India.
In the UK, universities use degree classifications, ranging from a first (>70%), an upper second (60%-70%), a lower second (50%-60%), and a third (40%–50%).
The grading is usually based on a combination of coursework, exams, and other assessments.
In contrast, Indian universities use a percentage-based grading system, where grades range from 0 to 100.
The grading is usually based on a combination of exams and other assessments.
On top of this, exams usually contribute to a significant portion of the final grade in Indian Universities, whilst UK universities value coursework more on average.
Cost of Education and Financial Support Available
In the UK, there are higher tuition fees, averaging between £18,000 – to £35,000 (INR 18.06 lakhs – INR 35.13 lakhs)
However, there are several financial support options available, such as scholarships, bursaries, and student loans.
Indian universities have a lower tuition fee, with the average being INR 40,000 – INR 80,000.
However, accommodation and the cost of living are much cheaper than in the UK.
Although, while there are fewer financial support options available, students are usually expected to finance their education themselves.
The amount of free time in UK universities varies on which degree you are studying. Students often only spend an average of 11 hours in lessons per week.
This allows time for extracurricular activities, studying, and working on coursework as well as working a part-time job if students have one.
However, on average, students spend 40 hours per week in lectures at an Indian university.
While beneficial for their studies, students will struggle to find time for other activities. To emphasise this further, Prince, a graduate of Coventry University said:
“One thing that shocked me when I came to the UK was that I only had classes two days a week, no longer than two hours.”
Some may see this as a good thing as ultimately, universities are a place to study. Although, some would argue that a balance is needed for more productivity.
Social and Networking Opportunities
In the UK, universities have a more social and networking focus, with most having many clubs/societies and events that allow students to meet and interact with each other.
Universities also have strong ties with alumni, which provide excellent networking opportunities for students.
In contrast, India focuses less on social networking due to the smaller amount of free time, culminating in fewer events and activities that allow students to meet and interact with each other.
Universities also have weaker alumni relationships, which provide fewer networking opportunities.
In conclusion, there are several differences between UK and Indian universities that students should be aware of when choosing when to pursue their higher education.
However, the choice ultimately depends on the student’s individual preferences and needs.
By understanding these differences, an informed decision can be made about where to pursue their higher education.