Scotland brings to mind castles, lakes and valleys. But not a lot gets said about studying in Scotland. When I lived in India, I thought of the UK as a single, tight-knit country that was fairly homogeneous. It was only when I moved here that I started to understand that various regions are different and have their own quirks and idiosyncrasies, much like how we are back home. Scotland has its own special identity and characteristics, and its own share of ancient reputed Universities.
Background : I worked with a European company after my under-graduation and I genuinely believed (and still do) that the European way of learning, teaching, and working seems like a more sustainable way of achieving work-life balance. Zeroing down on UK to do a Masters was a very simple process for me – I couldn’t afford to do a 2 year course, so UK was the obvious choice.
Process, Documentation to Study in Scotland as International Student: I had to prepare the usual documents to submit to various Universities like below
- Statement of purpose
- Letters of recommendations (one academic and one professional if you’ve worked or two academic)
- All educational and professional documents.
- Some courses need GRE/GMAT. Some will request a IELTS/TOEFL score if they feel your school/under-graduation does not sufficiently reflect your ability in English. For me, I did not need any of those extra exam scores.
I used Chopras educational consultants in Delhi while applying. Even though I didn’t need help with my application, I used a lot of their templates for the visa paperwork as well some paperwork that the University required. They were very nice and helpful and took a lot of time to answer all my queries.
Scholarship to Study in Scotland – Jubilee Scholarship
I was funded wholly by the UK Government and British Council under the Jubilee Scholarship. This included full tuition fees, travel costs, monthly stipend, visa fees and an internship. It was offered to 60 Indian students doing either Business or Engineering Masters in the UK. I chose the University of Edinburgh because it offered a generic course in Electronics and also because I had put that down as my first choice in my scholarship application. When I got the scholarship, Edinburgh University because the final choice.
Freshers’ Week at University – Events, Tours, Paperwork, Fun :
The University of Edinburgh has one week before all University classes begin called Freshers’ week. This is when most international students are settling in – meeting flatmates, sorting out phone, internet, and any remaining paperwork.
Freshers’ week has a wide range of events taking place all day and all night – from outdoor walking tours to pub crawls, tours of the library or indoor games. The International Student Centre is open every day, helping students get their identity cards, bank accounts, doctors’ registrations etc, and free coffee/tea and nibbles. This is also the week where each department hosts an induction day, where we heard from our heads of schools and came away with information and guides. This week is very full on and a lot of fun!
Study, Life, Travel, Friends :
I tried to travel as much as I could during that year. I made a lot of friends and worked on my studies during University hours. This was not difficult as I had only about 20 class hours every week. I also did a couple of volunteering stints. These were a month long each and helped me make new friends, get a feel of the work culture here, and give something back to my host country.
Campus Recruitment at Universities in Scotland (UK) :
The concept of campus recruitment does not exist in the UK. Career fairs are held at Universities two-three times a year and students have to go meet various companies there. The entire process starts one year before. So ideally, you have to start applying for jobs before you start your degree or right after, which is a bit weird. Or you can do what I did, concentrated on my studies, finished that off and then applied for jobs. This meant that I had a few months to kill before I started, which I spent travelling and studying some other stuff.
How to get a Job – Steps and Process in Scotland :
Once I was done with my course, I applied for a few ‘graduate’ roles with banks. These are available to those graduating fresh out of University or about 2-4 years early in their careers. University Careers Service helped me shortlist and tailor my CV for these.
- The first stage was an application form, followed by an online logical, numerical, and situational judgement test. This took me through to a telephonic interview. Clearing that meant I secured a place at an assessment centre.
- At the assessment centre, there was a group exercise, a personal interview, a one-to-one presentation and a role play exercise. This lasts an entire day. Once I cleared that, I was made a final offer. I was given the option of working in London or Edinburgh and chose to continue living here.
Where am I now ?
I have now completed the graduate scheme at RBS and work in Technology Innovation. I work on new technologies like AI, APIs and work on pilots and projects to bring them into the mainstream bank. I also run events and run education pieces to educate the industry on the new tech my team looks at.
How is Edinburgh ?
Edinburgh has a lot going on and is a lovely, friendly city to live in. On the side, I review theatre for a publication at the Edinburgh Fringe festival, which is the largest art festival in the world. I am loving living in Edinburgh for now. I got what I wanted out of doing a Masters here. I was lucky to be able to graduate without debt. I also managed to secure a job that I enjoy. So far, so good.
Did you study in UK ? What has been your experience ?
Udita Banerjee works in Technology Innovation in Banking. When she’s not reviewing theatre,she’s poking around in charity shops and second-hand bookstores. Travels have taken her from surviving a supercyclone in 1999 to featuring on the cover of a Scottish Book Trust anthology in 2013, both of which are excellent ice-breakers. Some of her favourite things include old books, pressed flowers, and the drama of Edinburgh skies. She’s on Twitter as @AuditBanshee