What are the advantages of studying in the U.K. over the U.S. or elsewhere?


I have heard that the courses are more concentrated and in-depth, but beyond that, why is it better to study in the U.K.?


I would say first-off that study in the UK is not suited to everyone, but that if you enjoy being in an academic environment and having your thinking be challenged, it’s absolutely the best place (though I am biased!). I’ve spent time studying at both Oxford and (briefly) at Stanford, and while I thought both were amazing learning experiences that challenged me in different ways, ultimately I’m more suited to the UK style of learning.

Before I went over to the US to study at Stanford I wrote a short article for CrimsonHub on the differences between the two systems - it’s a little dated and I would change some of the things I’ve written here, but in essence, I’d say the UK emphasises ‘depth’ in learning whereas the US emphasises ‘breadth’. I would also say that here in the UK degrees do not necessarily relate to the job you’ll get after university, whereas in the US (in my experience) there seems to be more pressure to study a degree that is directly employable.

I value several things about studying in the UK. The first is that the tutorial system found at Oxford and Cambridge is a fantastic way to have your thinking be challenged directly by a leading intellectual in your field of study. The second is that as a humanities student, I have almost no contact hours (I spend about four hours a week in classes or tutorials, and the rest of the time I’m expected to study in my own time - lectures are encouraged but optional), and so I get to dictate when and how I work to a large extent. Thirdly, I really love the sense of history you get from studying at these places! I think there is possibly no better place to be an English literature student than at Oxford. Lastly, culturally, I gel more with the UK ‘way of doing things’ than with the US way.

Additionally, if we’re talking pricing, while there are fewer scholarships available to the UK and while fees are still steep for international students, it is still likely that coming to the UK for undergraduate study will cost you less than a degree in the US (though obviously this is subject to personal circumstance, what financial aid you are eligible for in the US, and where you have applied). A rough price comparison of cost per year might look like this (it’s in USD):

US - $40K - $50K
UK - $30K - $40K

Bear in mind as well that an undergrad degree in the UK is often three years long as opposed to four years (anyone reading, feel free to correct me on this cost breakdown).

Ultimately, choosing where to study is a question of a few factors - personal taste (what is your learning style? What culture do you think you would be more comfortable in?), your specific academic interests and what specific departments within these universities can offer you, your financial situation, extracurriculars, and so on. I think it is also worth considering whether your candidacy as an applicant is more suited to the UK (more emphasis on grades and academia) or the US (more holistic and focus is also placed on extracurricular activities).