United Kingdom has always been a favourite destination for international students and a much-loved country for parents sending their children to study. Barring any non-academic considerations such as naturalisation, boarding schools are among the most attractive features in the UK’s education. They can balance the needs of both the children and the parents: the youth get the chance to integrate into the local culture, while mums and dads can stay and work in Hong Kong to support the tuition.
What is the best age for children to boarding school in UK? Before answering this question, we must first consider the personality of the child and the characteristics of the UK school system.
Get prepared for the whole new environment
When it comes to overseas studies, many parents are most worried about whether their children can adjust to living in a foreign country, such as an all-English environment and a new culture. They say the younger the children are, the easier it is to cope with a new environment. But if your children are to go alone, they still have to be prepared to deal with difficulties independently, even if they are attending full boarding schools that provide better care.
It is best to begin letting your children understand that they will be studying overseas, preferably at least a year before departure. Research with them: browse and work out information about the school they enrol in, the country and the town, and stories about boarding schools. With them, consider hypothetical situations that may arise and find solutions. The most important thing is to assure the children to feel more at ease: that even if their parents are far away in Hong Kong, they will have their full support.
Merge seamlessly in the school system at the right age
If your children is already independent enough, you could board the schools in the UK as young as 7 years old. Beginning studying in UK from primary school benefits from smoother adaptation to the new place and a more lenient enrolling policy. If parents wish for a particular secondary school in the future, they can send their children to a nearby primary school. Schools in the same area are connected so that enrolment to higher institutions will be more straightforward.
If the children start at secondary school, the ideal age is 14-15 years old when they go to Grade 9 – equivalent to Form 3 in Hong Kong. Most UK secondary schools are inclined to take international students at Grade 7 (Form 1), Grade 9 (Form 3) and Grade 12 (Form 6). In contrast, certain popular schools only accept applications for Grades 9 and 12. On the other hand, secondary schools usually would reserve more seats for Grade Nine students, making the admission more facile.
Medical insurance is essential
Children studying on UK campuses can broaden their horizons with all sorts of outdoor sports activities they may have never seen in Hong Kong.
That said, parents could feel worried about these “unconventional” activities: what if they injure themselves in an accident? They could even be fretful about their children being sick and alone in a foreign place.
All students in the UK needs to pay the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS), which entitle them to enjoy the National Health Service (NHS) coverage. Note that whilst NHS outpatient services are free, eyes and dental consultations are not. There is also an additional charge for prescription medicine.
If you want to provide your children with more comprehensive protection, consider purchasing insurance specifically designed for overseas students. Insurance plans like these typically cover medical expenses and travel and third-party liability, up to several million dollars. During the pandemic, needs for such support may suddenly emerge. Having a policy handy would put parents at ease.
A student studying in the UK contracted with COVID-19 en route to his vacation at home. As a result, the trip back to UK had to be cancelled, and the hotel forfeited the deposit. The student was lucky to have had overseas student care, which compensated the cost.
Another student was accidentally knocked down by a classmate during the study in the UK, causing a fracture of his right ankle. Having purchased the same insurance protection, he underwent open reduction and internal fixation operations in a UK hospital before receiving a series of post-surgery rehabilitation treatments. All the medical expenses were covered. Suppose a student encounters a severe situation and needs to receive extended hospitalisation overseas, the family can also have the transportation (round-trip air ticket) and accommodation fee compensated for visiting their child.
Young students often make impromptu travels when studying abroad. The nice thing about foreign student care is that the scheme would cover sickness and injury-related expenses from outside of the country of the study programme. For example, international students in the UK who get injured or contracted a disease in a skiing trip in France during their studies in the UK will be covered by medical insurance and even have the cost of follow-up consultations back in Hong Kong. Foreign student care comprehensively covers the needs of international students.
The above content is reviewed by Mr Kenneth Lai - P&C Distribution Director of AXA Hong Kong and Macau
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Whether your plan to study in America or explore Europe as part of your academic programme, studying abroad will change your life. Yet your educational journey is not without risks. As one of the largest insurer in the world, AXA gives you the peace of mind you need to learn, make new friends and build lasting memories. Be prepared to have the time of your life, our SmartStudent Overseas Insurance will take care of the rest.