Educational Culture in the UK

International Students Connect

Just Connect for international students in the UK

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Explore educational differences and similarities between the UK and your country.

Examine whether UK educational methods differ from those elsewhere.

Prepare for classroom, lecture hall and one-to-one interactions between teachers and students that may be different.

Be ready for interactions with UK students that may surprise you.

Learn how to make the most of the educational opportunities on offer at your school, college or university.

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Most teachers and university lecturers like to create an informal atmosphere in class. You may usually address them by first names, but wait for the teacher to establish the level of formality or informality in each particular case.
Informality is not without rules and does not imply that a lack of respect is allowed. Teachers or lecturers in the UK will usually remain polite if students are disrespectful, but they are not likely to forget the event or the circumstances.

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Teachers, especially in English language classes and at university, love intelligent questions. They bring classes, lecturers and seminars to life. Many students are shy about asking questions, but they are a great help to the learning process.
However, there are different kinds of questions:
1 Display questions. These are not real questions, but are designed to show off the asker's knowledge. Many teachers and other students find these irritating.
2 Hostile questions. These challenge a person's knowledge or beliefs. Teachers can be quite sensitive about their own beliefs, especially if the question challenges the findings of the PhD they spent several years and a lot of money to achieve. It's worth treading carefully. Challenging other students can drive a discussion towards barely controlled hostility and close down discussion.
3 Genuine requests for clarification or further information can open up discussion and inspire everybody in a lecture hall or classroom. Your student career will benefit from practising these types of questions.
Read more on 'UK Educational Culture' below and in the Forum.

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Many international students to the UK are surprised and even shocked by the behaviour of some UK students in class. For example, some may fall asleep, because they are tired or hungover after drinking alcohol the night before.

There are a number of points to consider.
1 UK teachers generally accept that partying and drinking is a rite of passage into adulthood for UK students, especially in their first year.
2 This behaviour may not affect a student's overall academic performance.
3 Much of the behaviour is exaggerated. It does not mean these students are violent, unpleasant alcoholics.
4 You do not have to join in with the behaviour, but you can accept it for what it is: a phase in the transition to adulthood. It's supposed to be part of a 'work hard, play hard' lifestyle. The uncontroversial response is to smile and congratulate them on how much they drank and how long they partied
5 You will notice that certain rules still apply even when students are drunk. They may be noisy and do silly things, such as 'mooning' or photocopying their behinds, but few will be racist, sexist, violent or jump a queue.
6 Don't let silly behaviour the night before prevent you from making friends the following morning. The behaviour is usually a sign of insecurity. Almost all of the UK's brilliant, clever and interesting people were once very silly students in one way or another.
7 It is interesting that spending a lot of time in class on a mobile phone rather than listening to the teacher or lecturer may be regarded as worse behaviour than being tired or hungover. It is regarded as deliberately disrespectful as it's fully within the student's control.

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when they are clearly anything but.