By Milja Zarubica
As I entered my 2nd year at London Metropolitan University and taking in account that I attended 2 years of uni in my home country before I moved to London, I feel like like I’m competent enough to compare how different studying is. I will cover the basic most obvious things.
The first thing that struck me as ‘way better’ in the UK system is the students’ weekly schedule. Speaking as a single honours attendee, since the beginning of the first year I never had uni more than 4 days a week. Not to mention that there wasn’t a day that would be completely occupied with lectures and sitting between 4 walls. It actually leaves you a lot of time to organize your study time as it best suits you, as well as to have some time for yourself – and trust me, some of us need that in order to keep our concentration and focus! All that is different than in my home country where I would sometimes have to be at uni for a minimum of 8 hours. I’m losing my will to live after that!
Secondly, non-course related activities such as societies, different seminars and workshops – all this would not be possible without students having some spare time on their hands. And the UK system puts a lot of effort into these, and a strong emphasis on them. It’s a fantastic way to meet more people as well! In Eastern Europe, activities like this are almost non-existent.
Thirdly, UK universities and the UK system put A LOT into practical work and learning skills. Every subject consists of a lecture and a seminar where we do nothing else but practical work. Back in my home country, unless your course [the WHOLE course] is specifically ‘practice-made’ and skill based, you WILL end up doing nothing but a bunch of reading and writing essays…even if there are things that need to be practically dealt with. In other words, UK universities do prepare you for a real outside world, at least to some extent. I think this is fantastic and probably the aspect that makes me smile the most.
This brings me to the point of unnecessary material covered at universities. Some will argue that UK universities have that too, and I am sure they do. However, keep in mind that having courses that are quite narrowed down (focused) and emphasising practical work wherever possible already prevents the UK system from having too much unnecessary material. At my old university, having NO practical work and having ONLY exams (both oral and written for each module), and a structure that required you to prepare them for one month minimum with nothing else but studying theory from huge books could only mean – more than a big amount of, in most cases, almost archaic theory. Not fun!
All in all, the UK education system did surprise me positively as it tries to narrow down as much as possible all the courses, keeping them specified for your future profession, without too much wondering around. Yet, it leaves you numerous ways and possibilities to still explore other options and expand your view. And with all that you still won’t feel like you’re choking under the pile of modules and unnecessary material.