Both MEng and MSc are clearly postgraduate qualifications, with the additional benefit of the MEng that you can also use it detect people having a rather unimaginative business / jealousy agenda trying to convince you that an MEng is “technically” an undergraduate qualification. B and M stands there for a reason, especially considering the UK with such a good academic education standard (no, I am not British, so no empty national bias is involved).
It is unfortunately archetypical of British students to argue to choose an MEng in favour of an MSc route because of mere 120 versus 180 credits to allow for their underinformed conclusion that it therefore means “less work”. I would also steer clear of even letting a potential employer to consider that you’ve chose MEng because it seemed the same level of qualification for less credits, and hence “less work” - though your interviewer may have once been the same bum, and you may stand a vague chance that he/she gets to emphatise with you, under the masquerade of “practical” thinking. Well, for a continental European at least, that’s a very cheap attitude.
Masters education has nothing to do with “overseas” students, apart from:
Those foreigners making the effort and financial sacrifice to come to the UK, obviously have a real drive to study, as opposed to doing that because that’s the standard middle class thing to do at a particular age. Of couse it does not apply to all the British students, all I am saying is that when it does apply, however, that obviously very seldom is an “overseas” student, for obvious reasons.
British students know very well that an “extra” Masters will have little effect, on itself, on your salary if and when they find a job (in the UK, that is) - that’s actually a good argument why not to bother with a Masters, unless of course you have some deeper motivation.
I believe the qualitative difference lies within the project scope and infrastructure (comparing BEng + MSc, and MEng):
BEng + MSc: most people get to CHOOSE a mediocre little project at BEng, barely more than a larger coursework, then also CHOOSE an MSc programme to their interests, with a project of obviously more based on their own contribution, but still quite pre-defined.
MEng: most people get to be GIVEN a project (group or ptherwise) at BSc level (third year), usually quite involved, and get to define their own contribution. At MEng level, you get a very good chance of being able to DEFINE your own project, and this is exactly where you can make a case for yourself.
In the above context, an MEng is more of a risk, but more of an opportunity as well. It is absolutely not necessary that MEng project are at all “smaller” than MSc ones. Most people do a joke of a project though, and bear in mind that if you do have the idea, the drive, and the talent to do your own project, let alone if it is rewarded by outstanding results, awards, etc, you are making you employability in the UK actually much trickier.
UK employers are very much lenient to hire the best candidates (in terms of achievements, talent, and especially personal drive). Do not ever show that you have the career engineer mindset whilst in the UK, because you’ll never get a job. The “where do you yourself in 5 years” type of question is actually dangerous to answer, they are more interested in whether you are a threat to their position of quite often more comfort than actual impact.
UK employers also vastly overrate experience, and if you don’t have any, having a Masters level qualification definitely further hinders your possibilities. The good side of the same narrow-minded and obsolete employer attitude (from an opportunistic point of view), is that they do consider even part-time jobs, and even if barely at all technical or relevant, as “experience”. What a joke though, how does one exactly gain any engineering experience from, say, telephone IT support, and why is it of any benefit to business to waste talent like that? The bad side is that you may get to be interviewed by a principal engineer of 15+ years of “experience” who doesn’t know what a reduced order observer is for, despite their problem explained being the noise level induced by direct differentiation of positional sensor data used to recover higher order dynamics (for those not into control, that’s similar to your construction industry where double glazing is still some luxurious fancy impractical high-tech nonsense, where pipes are still outside the walls of most houses, and in general “why repair something that is not broken”).
Don’t be surpised if most Europeans nowadays do a Masters and/or a PhD in the UK, and sod off immediately after. We do pay for it, and it is not at all percieved by us as being a “money cow”, it is an investment that still worths the effort, because UK higher education albeit expensive, is excellent, with its outstanding scientific freedom, potential, and scientists.
It really does seem to me that the vast majority of people really excellent at something tend to stick to at least a partially academic career path, because it’s decently paid, safe, open-minded, hungry for innovation, and ready to recongise potential. Don’t let yourself be fooled into believing that it has no effect on your economy, which is particularly relevant in engineering.