United Kingdom

Although most if not all visitors will probably visit London at some point, it is well worth getting out of the capital to get a real taste of the region and important to not forget the diversity one can find in barely 50 miles.

Whether it's the countryside, coast, historic towns or vibrant cities you are after, there's something for everyone.

For some of the best countryside, head for the National Parks such as the Yorkshire Dales or Dartmoor, perhaps on a day trip or a longer stay.

The coasts are varied and interesting with pretty beaches at places such as St Ives, traditional fishing towns like Whitby or seaside resorts such as Blackpool and Bournemouth.

Many of the cityscapes that were not destroyed by the Luftwaffe have suffered the urban blight of multi-storey car parks and the sort of insensitive shopping mall developments that Prince Charles moans about, but some cities have managed to preserve their heritage relatively intact, such as Edinburgh, Chester, Bath and York.

Shoppers looking beyond the capital may want to head to Manchester in the North, Bristol and Exeter in the West or Glasgow in Scotland.

Citizens of the European Union, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland have permanent work rights in the UK. In general, the citizens of other countries will require a visa to work in the UK. The UK has had low unemployment in recent years, making it easier for those with specialist skills to gain working visas. A general shortage of skilled labour in the health sector means the British health service actively recruits abroad, making it easier for those with specialist health care skills to work in the UK. This however may change due to the large investment the British government has made into getting more nurses and doctors trained from the United Kingdom. There continues to be a severe shortage in dentists, with many British people travelling to Hungary or Poland for dental treatment.

Beware that all work, paid or unpaid, requires a non-EU/EEA/Swiss citizen to hold a visa with work permit in order to take part tourist or visitor visas do not qualify. This includes, strangely, volunteer work.

Citizens of Australia, Canada, Hong Kong British National (Overseas passport holders only), Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, South Korea and Taiwan as well as British overseas citizens and British overseas territories citizens can apply for a Tier 5 visa under the Youth Mobility Scheme, which lasts 2 years and permits the holder to work.

Young people of other nationalities may be able to work on internships in the UK by applying for a Tier 5 visa under the Government-sponsored exchange category. Organisations such as IEPUK (http://www.iepuk.com/) can help to sponsor and assist a young people from aboard to applying for such a visa.

Most holders of a Tier 4 student visa are permitted to work for up to 20 hours a week during term-time and an unlimited number of hours outside term-time (http://www.ukba.homeoffic...). Unused hours from a previous week however, cannot be carried over to or advanced from another week e.g. you cannot work 10 hours during the first week and then work 30 hours during a different week or vice versa.

If you work in breach of your visa conditions, not only will your status be in jeopardy you may face deportation, denial of entry next time, etc. but your employer will also face a hefty fine.

The credit crunch, however, has caused many businesses to lose profit and go broke. Unemployment in 2008 reached its highest since the economic downturn of the early 1990s.

For more details on immigration rules relating to working in the UK, visit the UKVI website.

The UK has been a centre of learning for the past 1,000 years and possesses many ancient and distinguished universities. Many former polytechnics and other colleges have been promoted to university status over the past 25 years , and there are now over 120 degree-awarding institutions in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The two most famous and oldest universities are Oxford and Cambridge often referred to as Oxbridge by many Britons, but England also has several other world-class institutions, including several in London notably Imperial College, the London School of Economics, University College London and King's College London, all are part of London University. Outside of London in England the top universities are located in Durham, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool, Exeter, Leeds, Sheffield, Bristol, York, Nottingham, Kent, Bath, Loughborough, Newcastle, Southampton and Warwick.

Scotland has its own semi-separate educational system, with universities in Aberdeen Aberdeen and Robert Gordon, Dundee Dundee and Abertay, Edinburgh Edinburgh, Napier, Queen Margaret and Heriot-Watt, Glasgow Glasgow, Strathclyde and Caledonian, Stirling and the oldest and most traditional one at St Andrews.

There are two universities in Northern Ireland: the Queen's University of Belfast, and Ulster University with campuses in Belfast, Jordanstown, Coleraine and Londonderry. Although Queen's is the older and more famous institution, both are highly respected throughout the UK as centres of excellence.

Traditionally the University of Wales comprised four large universities: Aberystwyth (http://www.aber.ac.uk/), Bangor (http://www.bangor.ac.uk/i...), Cardiff (http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/...) and Swansea (http://www2.swan.ac.uk/), but since many polytechnics and institutes were upgraded to university status the number of Welsh universities has increased.

Foreign students make up a significant proportion of the student body at UK universities, with over 300,000 foreign students in 2004. All undergraduate applications go through a central body UCAS (http://ucas.com/), which acts as a clearing house passing applications to the universities for consideration and feeding their decisions back to applicants. Course fees for overseas students vary considerably, costing significantly more for the prestigious institutions. For postgraduate applications, applicants will have to apply directly with the institution.

In order to study, one needs to get either a student visitor for a 6-month course or a Tier 4 visa for something longer. In the case of the latter, you must have a confirmation of acceptance of studies from the institution, take an English Proficiency Exam preferably the IELTS but this may be waived if you are a national of or took your previous education in a majority English-speaking country and demonstrate that you have sufficient funds available to you for the duration of your course. Most importantly, students on a Tier 4 must be enrolled full time in an entire course of study, they cannot come just to study individual modules.

The UK - London, Manchester and Edinburgh in particular - remains an exceedingly popular destination for those seeking to learn the English language. A huge variety of organisations and companies exist to cater for this desire, some much more reputable than others:

British Council

The British Council (http://www.britishcouncil...) offers information on courses and advice.

volunteer
WWOOF

(http://www.wwoof.org/wwoof_uk/) arranges for volunteers to work for free on organic farms throughout the uk in exchange for room and board. this system provides an excellent means to experience life in the country-side, make friends and, at the same time, learn a little about organic farming.