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Study in the UK

The UK has one of the most respected and regarded education systems in the world. It is home to some of the oldest institutions. Two of these, Oxford and Cambridge often compete for 1st place in the world university rankings. Around a quarter of the UK universities usually feature in the top 100.

The UK is a popular study destination with an international student population of over 500,000 in 2017/18.

About the UK

The UK comprises of four countries. These are:

  • England
  • Scotland
  • Wales
  • Northern Ireland

The UK is home to many world famous tourist attractions and stunning scenery. There is so much to see and do. The transport links can take you anywhere you choose to go! Whilst London is the most obvious attraction the UK’s other regions have their own unique culture and charm. So everywhere is worth a visit. The cities are vibrant and bustling and the countryside is breathtaking. From rolling fields and hills, snow capped mountains, forests, beaches and lakes, there really is something for everyone. UK nightlife is a huge part of the student scene. There are also plenty of sports and other activities to occupy you. The culture is friendly and diverse, which is what makes it so great for international students.

UK Universities

There are over 140 universities in the UK. They are often talked about as being part of a category or group. These include:

  • Ancient Universities – Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews.
  • Red Brick Universities – refers to six universities founded in UK industrial cities. These universities where initially established as civic science or engineering colleges. The term ‘red brick’ refers to the victorian architectural style of these buildings.
  • Plate Glass Universities – These are universities that were either established as universities or promoted to universities after the 1960s. The term ‘plate glass’ refers to the heavy use of glass in their construction.
  • Russell Group – includes a group of 24 public research universities. These institutions receive two thirds of all university research grants.

Why Study in the UK

With world-class universities and vibrant cities and culture, the UK has lots to offer students. You can expect a high quality level of teaching from leading professionals in their chosen area.

UK courses are internationally recognised. A qualification from the UK will make your résumé stand out to future employers.

The UK has a large international student community and multicultural society. Students come from over 200 nations to study in the UK. Many universities have an international society to enable students to settle and make friends. These societies are very sociable and offer trips to local attractions, meals out, parties and gatherings. They also serve as a great source of support and will enable you to make friendships that will last a lifetime.

As an international student the UK student visa allows you to work. This is a great way to build up your work experience and gain some important skills that may compliment your future career.

Another benefit of being based in the UK is its proximity to the rest of Europe. Many destinations are a short plane journey away, which is fantastic for students wanting to travel on term breaks. The UK is a great gateway to Europe, with plenty of travel links and wonderful student deals and guidance.

If you require a visa to study abroad in the UK make sure you read our guide to the UK student visa. It details all you need to know about the student visa process and what is required of you in order to get one.

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Popular UK Student Cities


London is a popular choice for students from around the world. With over 50 universities in the UK’s capital city there are a lot of options to study in London. University College London is the top recruiter of international students in the UK. King’s College London, Imperial College and University of the Arts, London are other popular institutions.

Living in one of the world’s most exciting and dynamic cities is a life-changing adventure. It’s a great place to learn English in the UK, or study an undergraduate or Master’s Degree.

As one of the largest cities in the world, with a population ever so slightly more than New York, you can be sure to meet like minded people from all over the world. Not only that but with great transport links to the rest of the UK and the rest of the world there’s lots of opportunity for adventure. Make sure you’ve managed to visit all the free museums and galleries first though.


Manchester is the UK’s third largest city and located in the north west of England. Manchester is famous on the world stage for its top class football teams. The University of Manchester is the 2nd top recruiter of international students in the UK. Manchester Metropolitan University is the other large university found in the city.


Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and is home to over ten thousand international students. The city is famous for hosting the biggest art festival in the world; Edinburgh Fringe Festival. This festival takes place every August, which is out of term time so be sure to stick around for it.

The University of Edinburgh is the 3rd biggest recruiter of international students in the UK. It is also the oldest university in Scotland. Other universities include Heriot-Watt University and Napier University.

Cost of Living & Studying in the UK

Studying in the United Kingdom doesn’t have to be expensive. Outside of London the cost of living is more affordable. Degrees are usually three years with honours (which is fewer than some countries). Plus, students in the UK have access to free medical care through the NHS if studying for more than six months.

Before you decide on studying in the UK you should research tuition fees and the living costs. There are a number of financial options available for international students. Do some research and find out what you may qualify for. The estimated living cost per year is between £7,000 – £9,000, so it’s important that you plan ahead and keep track of your spending! Many UK shops and restaurants offer a student discount and you can get great deals on travel passes.

University tuition fees per year range from £15,000. Costs can vary depending on where you are studying. Get in touch with your chosen institution to find out the full cost of your course and what financial help is on offer.

UK undergraduate degrees range from three to four years. A full-time postgraduate degree is generally a year. You could go on to study at postgraduate level following your degree. There will always be lots of guidance to help you choose your next step.


Once you’ve decided what to study, you need to consider:

  • entry dates
  • application deadlines
  • student visa deadlines
  • English language requirements

The main intake is in September each year, though many universities have a smaller intake in January. If you wish to begin your course in September, keep in mind that the application deadline is in June. Make sure you have submitted all of your application documents well in advance of your cut off date.

When applying for your visa, you must make sure that you qualify. The UK visa requirements are subject to change. But you will generally need an unconditional offer letter from your chosen university. As well as proof of funds to cover course fees and living expenses. You can read more about the new UK student visa system in our article.

Another thing to remember is that most courses have their own language requirements. So you may have to show evidence of your language skills. The preferred English language test is IELTS. You will be able to find out more about this from your chosen university. If you do not meet the requirements, it is common for universities to offer English Language courses. These allow you to improve your skills, making you ready to succeed in your chosen course!

Make sure you read our UK Student Visas Explained article for more information on the UK student visa.

The British Government student visa webiste can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/student-visas

Study in England

England is a wonderful place to study due to its rich heritage, quality educational institutes and the fantastic diverse culture. There are some wonderful things to see and do, and very it’s easy to get up and down the country for some great experiences in between study time.

You may find that teaching methods are different from what you are used to. You will be given a lot of freedom on your course and be encouraged to interact and express your ideas to your peers. Student life in England is varied, from sports and all kinds of social clubs, to nights out and trips around the country with your new friends!

Find out more about Study in England.

Study in Scotland

More than 40,000 international students study in Scotland each year. It is home to a number of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world, though it also houses some of the most modern and advanced institutions in the UK, and offers learning in a state of the art environment.

All Scottish universities have employability embedded in their courses and graduates can expect the highest starting salaries six months after graduating than anywhere else in the UK. Scotland is a country of great natural beauty, famous festivals and friendly cities.

Find out more about Study in Scotland.

Study in Wales

Wales is fascinating country, with a 3000-year-old history. It has both vibrant cities and stunning scenery. From soaring mountains to sandy beaches, there really is a wonderful mix of old and new here. The natural beauty of the country crossed with modern and innovative student life makes it a great draw. Universities Wales now leads on all aspects of education on behalf of all Welsh Institutions.

Wales is the only country in the world in which all of its universities collaborate in a not-for-profit union for international students. Education in Wales in flexible and diverse, and offers world leading research facilities amongst some of the most beautiful locations in the UK.

Study in Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland has two universities and six further and higher education colleges. Here you will find high standards of education in a close-knit community. The universities in Northern Ireland offer a great deal of courses and welcome in thousands of students from over 80 countries each year. They encourage independent learning, with extensive reading lists and academic assignments.

The area is a lot smaller than other countries of the UK, but it is home to some breathtaking landscapes and a truly unique culture. Students who wish to study in Northern Ireland are often interested in history, art and music as there is so much of it to see and it is all easily accessible.

Institutions in the UK

Browse higher education providers in the UK on the map or select from the list to learn more

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