Studying in London

Whether you are a foreign or domestic student, if you are interested in studying in London you could feel quite overwhelmed by the sheer volume of higher education institutions that not only exist in the capital, but that interest you. London is home to no less than 60 publicly funded colleges and universities and in a survey done back in 2008/9, it was revealed that 426,175 students were registered at these London universities and colleges.

Apart from those that are publicly funded, there is also a multitude of independent specialist colleges which offer an enormous range of courses from Diplomas in fashion to Masters of business and admin. Finding the best London college that best suits your needs can seem a pretty taunting task, but by taking a few simple steps you can greatly simplify the process and rest assured that by the end of it you have found the ideal college or university for you.

The first place you will probably go when looking at London colleges is the internet, but beware of bogus colleges with professional websites that are there only to take your money. Do your research, find out as much as you can about the college you are interested in and see what has been written about it. Make sure they are accredited and that the qualifications they offer are genuine, this is particularly important if you are a foreign student as these bogus colleges pray on their lack of knowledge.

Look for the UK Higher Education system accreditation, and this has an acclaimed reputation across the globe for sticking to extremely strict guidelines. In order for any higher education institute to be recognised as a university with all the powers that come with it, the institute is required to undergo an intense review by ACDAP, the Advisory Committee on Degree Awarding Powers, which is a division of the UK quality assurance agency, or QAA.

The college or university is only able to issue certified qualifications and be listed as a recognised body by the Department for Business and Innovative Skills, DBIS, after they have received the ACDAP seal of approval. As a general rule, the smaller independent college don’t have the power to issue their own degrees in the way that a university can, and they are not obligated by law to undergo monitoring by any external quality assurance agencies.

This is the area where you need to proceed with the most caution. Do not consider any private college that has not taken it upon itself to gain accreditation from such an independent external quality agency as the BAC, British Accreditation Council. Check the register of listed bodies from DBIS to see if the college is on there and make sure it is linked to an official university or other recognised body otherwise that degree may not be worth the paper it is written on.

Foreign students need to make sure that the college is authorised by the UK Border Agency for the enrolment of international students, and all colleges should be partnered with an internationally recognised body, which can be checked out on UK NARIC.