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This blog has moved

March 2, 2011

Hi

Sorry after a long period of inactivity this blog has been moved to here where it is available in Thai and English.

Thanks for all the comments and sorry this was quiet for so long – the good news is we now have someone working on the new blog so there should be regular new content.

Look forward to seeing you there.

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Immigration Rules Change on 1st September

August 26, 2007

The rules about student visas will on 1st September 2007, with a new category of ‘student visitor’ being introduced. Check with local embassy about how this could effect you – one main consideration is it will significantly change your ability to work in the UK during your stay.

For full information see the UK Council for Interational Students and especially their briefing sheet ‘Arriving in the UK’.

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Times Good University Guide 2008

July 31, 2007

The new UK University Rankings from the Times newspaper were published in late July, a little later than usual. This may have been because the tables were complied by different authors, by Exeter Enterprises, a subsidiary of the University of Exeter. Also there are some rumours that several universities were unwilling to submit data and wishing not to be included in the league tables.

Any kind of ranking of UK universities has been controversial, especially as there are no ‘official’ rankings, but mainly tables published by newspapers. There are league tables published at different times of year by the Times, the Sunday Times, the Financial Times and the Guardian, as well as several magazines such as the Economist. The Daily Telegraph tries to combine all the others into a single set of results In addition to these the UK government also monitor the quality of teaching and research at the universities through the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) and the Quality Assurance Agency (QAA). Wikipedia gives its own kind of summary of the different tables here.

So why are these so controversial and are they helpful for students to help choose a university?

One reason they are controversial is that they all show very different results and rankings for the same universities – this really means that you have to understand how each ranking is calculated to understand why some universities get the ranking they get. Another reason is that some universities argue they are very misleading and that the way the tables are calculated does not fairly reflect the quality of each university.

Sure all of these tables are useful but they should not determine where you choose to go and study. Deciding to go and study overseas is a big commitment and you should research your options and choices carefully. Think about

  • how the results are calculated
  • who they are aimed at
  • which ranking should you trust
  • whether you should look at the overall table or the subject table

The tables are useful to give an indication of the general reputation about a university but are not an exact or accurate guide – they don’t mean that the University ranked 7 is better than the university ranked 8 but rather these both have a good reputation. Our recommendation is that these tables are a useful guide to UK universities but are not very exact, and that you should consider many different factors when trying to decide where to go and study.  Other things that can help show the reputation of a course are if it has any ‘professional accreditation’ or if it is recognised by any bodies, such as AMBA for MBAs.

So with this in mind back to these new tables published by the Times – there has been some significant change in the positions of some institutions which is probably due to the new methodology used. A new feature on the website is that you can select and compare different universities.

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IELTS changes the marking scheme

June 21, 2007

From the 1st July 2007 the marking system will be changed to include ‘half band’ scores in both the writing and speaking components of the test.

According to IELTS this has been donce following significant consultation and feedback from test takers and those institutions that recognise the test, for example Universities that have this as a compulsory entry requirement. The reason is that it makes the test scores more precise giving better information to the student and the University.

This will not mean any change to the way the test is conducted so it won’t be necessary for you to prepare any differently.

For the official information see here.

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How should you apply for a PhD

May 6, 2007

A Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated to PhD, is the highest degree you can earn and is based on you writing a thesis. Once you have graduated with a PhD you can call yourself ‘Doctor’. The PhD thesis is expected to add to existing knowledge, and to do this you must one must explore, investigate, and contemplate your chosen subject and then extend the knowledge in this subject area. The scientific community uses the term research to capture the idea. During a PhD you will be expected to work mainly by yourself but under the guidance of a supervisor, with whom you should have regular meetings. You will need to be highly motivated to complete a PhD!

A thorough literature search and review to find all the published work relevant to your subject will be one of your first tasks. Usually you will start with general reference works but will also have to search journals and publications that the academic world use to report, share and debate information. Then you will test your hypothesis and carry out your research, before ‘writing up’ your findings. Each university establishes general guidelines that a student must follow to earn a Ph.D. degree and you will need to check these with your supervisor.

On a traditional PhD you will not usually be required to study any classes although you will have training in research skills and methods. The programme will last for a minimum of 3 years. Usually the first 2 years will be spent researching and planning and the thesis, which is then written up in the third year. As a general guideline a thesis will be about 80,000 – 90,000 words.

The NewRoutePhD™ scheme is fully equivalent to the highly regarded traditional British PhD and consists of a flexible framework that combines a proportion of taught subject specific and interdisciplinary modules designed to enhance students` knowledge and skills. New Route PhDs last for 4 years.

Each year about 800 Thai students are studying PhDs in the UK in many different subject areas and a nearly all UK universities. Many students are funded by the Royal Thai government or their employers. The UK government also has some scholarships for international students, called Overseas Research Scholarships so check when you apply how you can be considered for these scholarships.

So how do you apply?

 

When you are applying for a research degree, like the PhD, you will have to write a research proposal as a part of your application. The research proposal is perhaps the single most important part of a PhD application and should be prepared carefully in order to maximise your chance of successfully securing a place to study.

Unfortunately it is impossible to tell you the right way to present a research proposal, there is no perfect model. You cannot always predict the direction your research will take, or that your findings will be as you expected, or foresee problems. However a good proposal will answer all four of the questions below:

} What am I going to do in my research?
} Who else has done research like this, and what did they do?
} How am I going to do this research?
} Why will this research be important to the academic community?

The proposal is a guide to what you intend to research, rather than a detailed plan that you must follow for your entire thesis. However it is the basis on which potential supervisors will decide if they are willing and able to supervise your research, and it will often prompt further discussion. It is important to focus on the specific area of your research and try to avoid large general subject areas as these would not be suitable for a PhD and you will not usually be offered a place if your research topic is too general. As a general guideline try to keep the document short and focussed, limiting it to no more than 1500 – 2000 words – and cover these areas:

  • Identify clearly the subject area for your research, provide a key research questions and provide an outline of the subject matter. This section may also include a working title for your research.
  • Show evidence of a basic literature review by listing researchers who have made major contributions to this field. Suggest how your work will add to this body of knowledge.
  • Describe a conceptual/theoretical framework or approach for your research and give details of your proposed methodology, what research techniques you will use. This may include a timescale for your work as most doctoral work will include some quantitative or empirical research and require data collection. Show evidence of research planning.
  • What specifically do you hope your thesis will discover or explain that will make it an original contribution to knowledge?
  • A bibliography including work you have used in preparing the proposal

You may also want to include details or references to any other work you have done in this field, and enclose a sample of some of your recent academic writing. Also remember your proposal will not only be judged on the content but your presentation as well – make sure it is a well presented, professional document. You will also have to submit other documents such as transcripts and references, as you would when applying for other courses.

This is also very important and will require you to look at University websites finding out about relevant research groups, projects and going through individual staff profiles. Luckily the Internet makes this task much easier – using your keywords and search engines to look for academic papers and conferences in your field can be a good way to identify potential supervisors. Also talk to your current professors and research colleagues to access their networks. Many Science and Engineering Departments may publish lists of existing projects and topics available for PhD students so make sure you do your research and check university websites. Once you have a research proposal you then need to identify potential supervisors for your PhD One very comprehensive website about research in the UK is the Higher Education & Research Opportunites (HERO), which includes information about all aspects of research in the UK, including the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) and a list of other useful links.

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New Scheme for working in the UK after you have graduated

April 25, 2007

From 1st May 2007 there is a new scheme – International Graduates Scheme – being introduced that will make it easier to stay and work in the UK after your studies.

As with any legislation please read this carefully and seek advice if necessary. Also remember it is still quite hard to find work in the UK after graduation, especially in the more popular subjects and most international students return to their home country after graduation.

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Studying English Language in the UK

March 3, 2007

Many students just want to go and study English Language, either at a Language School or in the Language Centre of a University. There are lots of different kinds of Language courses available so this gives you a basic idea of some of teh options and what costs may be involved.

Different types of English course

– General English
Available for students of any level, with courses dates are usually very flexible and you can start any Monday, and study for different lengths of time from 2 weeks to a whole year. You don’t have to have a recognized English qualification as you will have a placement test when you arrive and be put into the most suitable class. The courses will usually focus on the four skills, Listening, Reading, Speaking and Writing, while helping you with vocabulary, pronunciation and grammar.

Exam Preparation Courses
Courses are specifically designed to prepare students for a wide range of examinations, usually IELTS or TOEFL. An exam preparation course usually is more focused and has a smaller class size. With many tests, you can gain a higher score if you know more about the test so these courses will teach you about the exam, give you tips and strategies and regularly use practice exams and assignments.

English for Academic Purposes
If you are trying to improve your English Language because you aim to study at University then this may be the course for you. The course will focus on improving your English as well as developing skills you will need while studying, such as writing assignments, note – taking, presentations and academic reading. They will often include basic study skills, library use and IT training as well. When possible they will use relevant subject material for your intended study to help with any subject specific vocabulary.

Pre-Sessional English Courses
These are usually offered at Universities and not at the Language Schools. They are normally available in June, July or August for students who have a place at the University but have nearly but not quite reached the right level of English for their course. As a guide a course is usually 4-6 weeks for every half point of IELTS you need to improve. Some Universities let students attend these courses instead of retaking IELTS but not all. Check if you have to retake and IELTS test or not, it may be that you have to ‘successfully complete’ the course instead.

English for specific purposes
As the name suggests these tend to be shorter courses focusing on a single topic or skill, for example they could be for a certain career or skill. Examples of this could be ‘legal English for young lawyers’ or ‘English for business negotiations’

Business English
These courses are designed for professionals and will usually cover certain aspects of business, for example report writing, sales and presentation skills. They can be designed for people at different levels in their career, with executive courses for more senior staff.

One-to-One Courses
The most flexible kind of course which will be designed to meet your individual requirements. You will get individual attention so the course can be quite intensive. As you may guess this is usually the most expensive course and is often charged per hour.

Summer Courses
Summer (or Easter in the UK) courses are also popular and are aimed at younger students. They tend to be shorter courses and combine a holiday with studying so will include more excursions. The courses will help improve your English and be an enjoyable travel experience.

Costs

Different Schools will have different prices but there are some general guidelines. Usually the course will have a weekly rate, which get slightly lower the longer the course you study. Remember there is usually an additional registration fee. However there are a number of other factors that will affect the price, such as:

The number of hours you study per week
Morning or afternoon study
The size of the class
If excursions or other social activities are included

Accommodation will usually be available and will be charged per week, and again there is often a booking fee.

Student Visa

There are slightly different visa requirements for students going to study English than for students studying degree courses at University. Please check for more details