I think if someone asked me, “What is the biggest difference between education in Canada and education in the UK?”, my first response would definitely be the length of my degree. A typical Canadian Biosciences degree is 4 years of study whereas here, its 3 years of study + you can opt for a professional placement (work) year.
I love that I have the opportunity to work, as it gives me a head-start into what I will be facing once I graduate. You get paid for most of these placements — this is a great chance as students often make enough to pay off one year worth of tuition. Also, while you are on your placement, your tuition is only about £1100, so you’re not actually paying the full cost
So why are there only three years of study?
From what I know, having gathered information from my fellow Bio friends in Canada, the degree at Surrey is more specialised. For example, I am in my first year: currently taking courses like Bacteriology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Genetics. First year Bio students in Canada have a variety of courses to choose from, you can even do Physics if you wanted to! My friends tell me they won’t be doing courses like mine until at least second or third year
Electives at University of Surrey are few. In my first year, I only had one option: and then too, there were not many options to choose from. The electives were very much related to my degree. In Canada, a bio student can get away with taking an Economics elective!
Personally, I love the specialised courses. I can’t believe I’m studying modules such as Biomedical Bacteriology and Biochemistry in my first year. Some of the modules that I cover in my degree (e.g. the Cancer modules in my final year and some Immunology modules next year) I wouldn’t even have been introduced to in a Canadian Bio program unless I made the advancement into Medicine.
University here, encourages a lot of independent study. Students are required to put in 35-40 hours of studying and revision outside of coursework, at least on my course. It sounds like a lot, but it really is not that bad when you’re doing something you truly enjoy.
The University of Surrey also offers free language courses, an opportunity that many don’t even know about. I was lucky to find out about it in time. It’s known as the Global Graduate Award and offers a variety of languages such as French, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Japanese (and many more). It even has British Sign Language classes. These come in different Stages, with Stage 1 being the most beginner. It always helps knowing a different language and sometimes it’s a nice change from your regular courses to go and study one.
Here’s the link: http://www.surrey.ac.uk/englishandlanguages/study/global_graduate/ Check it out!
So far, I have really enjoyed studying here. The professors are always there to guide you in the right direction, should you be lost. Each student is assigned a personal tutor, who is there to help you with your studies as well as any personal problems you might have. Surrey has so much to offer and I think one can really make the most of it!
I recommend taking a look at the University of Surrey Youtube channel as there are videos from students doing placements and such, both in the UK and abroad: https://www.youtube.com/user/UniversityofSurrey