Do you have a yen for large, complex machinery? Are you fascinated by the co-ordination among the various structural and functional components that make a system a complete whole? And, more importantly, would you like to see yourself immersed in the complicated course of mechanics in one of the world’s top universities renowned for engineering education? Then maybe the University of Sheffield, the UK, is where you belong.
Materials science and engineering is one of the most sought after subjects today. In fact, it is key to much of the technology upon which society rests. It covers areas ranging from lightweight alloys for aircraft to semiconductors for personal computers (PCs), and photovoltaic cells for energy generation to body scanners in hospitals and implants for human body repairs. Demands for miniaturisation, making living more environment friendly, replacement of body parts — all come under the purview of materials science. And there is no better place to study the subject than the University of Sheffield.
Set in a picturesque locale in Sheffield in South Yorkshire, the University of Sheffield is considered one of the powerhouses of higher education in Britain. Consistently ranked amongst the world’s top 100 and Britain’s top 20 universities, it is a member of the Russell Group, a collaboration of 20 UK universities that together receive two-thirds of research grants and contract funding in the UK. It is also one of the famed Red Brick universities — that is, the six civic science and engineering institutes that gained university status before World War I.
The University of Sheffield is one of the few elite institutions that have managed to keep their academic record intact while producing a long list of brilliant and highly acclaimed alumni, including five Nobel laureates. Its department of engineering materials is the largest and most successful materials science centre in the UK. It was recently rated one of the five Gold Standard Centres of Excellence in metallurgy and materials in the country. This accolade is awarded to departments that have demonstrated research excellence of an international standard continuously over the last 10 years.
“An important feature of our programmes is that they are extremely flexible,” says Richard Thackrey, undergraduate admissions tutor at the department of engineering materials. “A student can initially apply for either the three-year BEng or four-year MEng in any of these subjects — materials science and engineering, materials science and engineering with a modern language, or biomaterial science and tissue engineering. That is because the first two years of BEng and MEng are exactly the same. Students are free to choose any of the streams at the end of second year when the pros and cons of each are clearer.” Both BEng and MEng are undergraduate programmes, clarifies Thackrey.
The eligibility criteria and application procedures for overseas students are similar to those in other universities in the UK. “Any application to study at the University of Sheffield must be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS),” says Thackrey. Further information can be obtained at www.ucas. com/studyuk/index.html.
Alternatively, students may seek help from the British Council to complete their application process. “A first class is a must while the cut-off marks usually hover around 75 per cent to 80 per cent,” says Jill Longstaff, the representative of the International Office of Sheffield in India. An overseas student must also clear the Test of English as a Foreign Language (Toefl) with a minimum of 550 marks (for the paper-based test) or 213 marks (for the computer-based one) or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) 6.0.
When it comes to studying abroad, the main thing that acts as a deterrent is the tuition and living costs. But the University of Sheffield scores on that point too. Says Sruthi Mahadevan, a fourth-year student of MEng. “I joined the university gym with a great student discount. The membership included all the facilities in the gym plus the swimming pool, steam room and sauna.” In fact, according to a survey of 26 university towns and cities (Natwest Student Living Index 2008), the living costs of Sheffield students are the third lowest in the country. The estimated total expenditure for undergraduate students is around £5,400 (Rs 4,38,000) for nine months whereas for postgraduate students it goes up to £7,200 (Rs 5,84,000) a year. This includes accommodation, food, books, other equipment and local travel expenses.
Of course, in addition, one has to shell out a tuition fee of £13,700 (Rs 11,12,000) a year. If that sounds too much, go for an education loan. “The university has its agents in India who are always willing to help students seeking an educational loan,” says Longstaff. Students can also work parttime. The Student Union Job Shop of the university provides information on part-time opportunities available in Sheffield. Scholarships and other financial awards are also given to deserving students who need assistance.
Campus life at the University of Sheffield is as colourful as its classrooms. With scores of multi-screen cinemas, concert halls, music clubs, soccer clubs and leisure complexes, there is hardly any scope for students to feel bored. “The students’ union is very strong and very different from what we find in India. The union organises trips to various parts of the UK and a student has to pay a nominal amount to be a part of these trips,” says Sunita Bose, an agent of the university in Calcutta.
Sheffield is also rated as the safest city in the UK. Foreign students are made to feel at home in no time. There is also no dearth of activity since there are 250 different clubs and societies to get involved with. “The good thing about Sheffield is the mix. I’ve met people from all over the world. University life is shaping me for the real world,” says Meenakshi Hansrani, a first-year student.
Sheffield scholarships, 2009
1) India Management Scholarships for undergraduate students
(£1,500 per year)
2) India 50 per cent Undergraduate Scholarships
(50 per cent reduction in tuition fee every year)
3) India Sheffield Scholarships
(for all Indian students starting a taught masters programme)
* £1,500 for students paying fees between £10,420 – £11,600
* £2,000 for students paying fees of £11,601 and upwards
4) India 50 per cent Postgraduate Scholarships
(50 per cent reduction in tuition fee for those starting their postgraduate taught masters degree studies)
5) Faculty Undergraduate Scholarships
(for all international students starting their studies in the faculties of engineering, science and the school of law)
* £2,000 per year (engineering)
* £2,000 (science)
* £1,500 (law)
What’s Hot :
Low living cost, flexible programmes, colourful campus life
What’s Not :
High tuition fees