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Study in the UK

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, also known as the UK or Britain, is regarded as the world’s second most popular international study destination. The UK welcomes almost 460,000 international students from around the world each year. Having built a world-class education system, higher education in the UK is a model for many countries around the globe.

Why Study in the UK?

With around 162 higher education institutions across the UK, and a generous range of degree types, it makes sense that Britain is a popular destination in international education. The education system varies depending on where in the UK you choose to study, with some subtle differences. Regardless of where you study, you will receive high quality teaching from leading professionals. Any qualification gained in the UK will be highly regarded internationally.

Many of the UK universities and colleges are seen in the leading education ranking tables. In the 2019 QS World University Rankings, the UK has 4 institutions in the top 10. There are also 18 UK institutions in the top 100. The highest ranked is the University of Oxford, which occupies 5th place. It is followed by the University of Cambridge and Imperial College London, in 6th and 8th place respectively.

About the UK

An island nation, the UK is surrounded by 4 different oceans or seas. The UK is made up of four countries. These are England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Britain is one of the few countries to still be ruled by a constitutional monarchy, with Queen Elizabeth II currently standing as the longest-serving monarch in recorded history. Home to 66 million people, the UK is the 78th most populous country in the world.

Britain’s 243,000 square kilometres make it one of the smaller countries in the world. The terrain and climate can vary, but the difference is not significant. The UK is known for having relatively cold winters, and warm summers, with 4 obvious seasons.

The UK’s university systems is sometimes referred to in groups or categories. These include:

  • Ancient Universities – refers to institutions founded before the year 1600. Some examples are: Oxford University, Cambridge University, St. Andrews University.
  • Red Brick Universities – refers to institutions founded in UK industrial cities. The term ‘red brick’ is due to the Victorian architectural style of the buildings. Some examples are: the University of Birmingham, the University of Manchester, and the University of Leeds.
  • Plate Glass Universities – refers to institutions established or granted university status in the 1960s. The term ‘plate glass’ is due to the modern architectural buildings. Some examples are: the University of York, the University of Warwick, and the University of Lancaster.
  • Russell Group Universities – refers to a group of 24 public research universities. These universities endeavour to maintain the best research, teaching and leading standards. Some examples are: the University of Birmingham, the University of Edinburgh, and Durham University.
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Cost of Studying and Living in the UK

The currency used in the UK is the Pound Sterling (GBP/£).

Tuition fees for international students are not fixed or governed in the UK. This means that they can vary greatly from institution to institution, and each university decides what they wish to charge. The tuition fees you are charged will be highly dependent on your home country. If you are coming from an EU country, you are likely to be charged the same as a UK student. If you are from any other country, you will pay international student fees.

In England, the maximum undergraduate fee for UK/EU students is £9,250 per annum for the 2019/20 academic year. In Wales, the undergraduate fee can be up to £9,000 per annum, and in Scotland you can also be charged up to £9,000 per annum, but it tends to be less for EU students. In Northern Ireland, as an EU student you can expect to be charged up to £4,275 per annum. Tuition fees for UK/EU students are subject to change each academic year, and you should make sure that you are aware of how much your course will cost you. Postgraduate fees for EU students in each of these areas are normally the same as those for UK students, and will differ depending on the institution.

EU students will be aware of the UK’s referendum on membership of the European Union, also known as ‘Brexit’. Whilst there are uncertainties for all parties in terms of what tuition fees EU students will pay once the UK officially leaves the EU, many universities have pledged to keep EU fees the same for at least the next few years. Take a look at our ‘Brexit’ article for more information, and know that you’re always welcome to come and study in the UK.

If you are a student coming from outside of the EU, your tuition fees could be much higher. For undergraduate and postgraduate level, you can typically expect to pay between £5,000 and £40,000 per annum. If you choose to study an executive education course such as an MBA, or a competitive course such as medicine, your fees will be on the higher end of the scale.

In terms of living costs, it is recommended that you have at least £14,000 per year. This will cover your rent, groceries, travel, and any other necessary expenses. If you choose to live in London, you should budget for higher living costs, as it is significantly more expensive than the rest of the UK. Many retailers offer generous student discounts as long as you can prove that you are a student by showing your student card, take advantage of this to save some money. Depending on where you are coming from, you may be able to get a part-time job to supplement your funds. This is normally dictated by your visa, and can sometimes have restrictions. Have a look at our part-time student job article for more information about working during your studies.

You may be able to apply for a scholarship to help fund your studies. This could be awarded by your institution, or a separate funding body. Check out our scholarships and funding section for more information.

Visas

Depending on your home country, you may need to obtain a visa in order to study in the UK. If you are from an EU country, you do not currently need a visa to come and study in the UK. This is subject to change once the UK leaves the EU. If you are from any other country, you are required to be granted a visa before you can enter the UK. Before you can apply for a visa, you will need to be accepted onto a course, be able to prove that your English language skills meet the required standard, prove that you have sufficient funds for living and studying. To apply for a visa outside of the UK, there will be a fee of £348 for each person applying. The UK government website will provide you with more information about eligibility and restrictions.

Have a look at our Student Visa Questions article for more information about this process.

Language

The official and national language of the United Kingdom is English. There are other recognised languages also spoken across the country. These include Welsh, Irish, Cornish, Scots, Ulster Scots, and Scottish Gaelic.

Courses at UK universities are delivered in English. If your first language is not English, it is likely that you will have to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application. If you do not meet the required standards, it is common for institutions to offer English language courses to help you improve.

If your native language is not English, you should make the most of your opportunity to learn a language as you study. Communicating with locals and other students is the perfect way to practice. Having advanced ability in English is a great skill to add to your CV/resume.

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 it’s very 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 to see the sights!

Find out more about Study in England.

London

The capital and largest city in the UK, London is home to around 9.1 million people. Founded by the Romans in 43 AD, London has a long and interesting history, which you can witness at the many museums in the city. London has been considered one of the world’s most powerful cities for many years, and ranks well in many areas. Located in the city are 40 higher education institutions. These include Imperial College London, City University of London, and Westminster Business School.

Manchester

With a population of around 545,500, Manchester is the 5th largest UK city. It is a northern city with a strong industrial history. Manchester is known for its culture, architecture, musical talent, and its scientific and engineering output. Manchester Liverpool Road railway was the world’s first inter-city passenger railway station. The city was also the location where scientists first split the atom. There are three universities in Manchester. These are the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Royal Northern College of Music.

Birmingham

Home to around 1.1 million people, Birmingham is the second-most populous city in the UK. It is located in the West Midlands, and is considered the cultural, social, financial and commercial centre of the Midlands. Thanks to this, Birmingham is sometimes referred to as the UK’s ‘second city’. There are currently 8 higher education institutions in the city, offering traditional degree courses, creative arts courses and business courses. These include the University of Birmingham, Aston University, Birmingham City University, and Aston Business School.

Leeds

Located in West Yorkshire, Leeds is home to around 790,000 people. Founded as a market town, Leeds long served as a centre for Yorkshire agriculture and the manufacture of woollen cloth. Outside of London, Leeds has become the UK’s largest legal and financial centre. You will find 8 higher education institutions in the city of Leeds. These include the University of Leeds, Leeds Trinity University, Leeds College of Music, and Leeds Beckett University.

Liverpool

Home to just under 500,000 people, Liverpool is located in the North West of England. It has historically served as one of the UK’s biggest shipping centres, and continues to be a major port. Liverpool was the port of registry for many famous ships, including RMS Titanic. There are 5 higher education institutions in the city. These include the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), Liverpool Hope University, the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA), and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine.

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.

Edinburgh

The capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh is home to around 500,000 people. The city is the seat of the Scottish Government, the Scottish Parliament, and the supreme courts of Scotland. Edinburgh is a major tourist city, thanks to its historical and cultural attractions. Located in the city are four universities. These include the University of Edinburgh, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh Napier University, and Queen Margaret University Edinburgh.

Glasgow

The most populous city in Scotland, Glasgow is home to over 620,000 people. Situated on the River Clyde, the city was a key seaport for Scotland during the industrial revolution. Glasgow has a sporting culture, as is known for its football, rugby, athletics and tennis. There are 6 higher education institutions located in the city. These include the University of Glasgow, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow Caledonian University, University of the West of Scotland, The Glasgow School of Art, and the Royal Conservatoire of 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 is flexible and diverse, and offers world leading research facilities amongst some of the most beautiful locations in the UK.

Cardiff

The capital and largest city of Wales, Cardiff is home to around 362,000 people. The city is Wales’s main commercial centre, and serves as the base for many national cultural institutions and the Welsh media. The city of Cardiff is a key tourist centre, bringing in more than 2 million tourists each year. Located in the city are four higher education institutions. These include Cardiff University, Cardiff Metropolitan University, University of South Wales, and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.

Swansea

Home to around 245,500 people, Swansea is the second largest city in Wales. The city is in a historic copper-smelting region, and played a major part in the industrial revolution. The port of Swansea has been important throughout history, and has traded in wine, hides, wool, cloth and coal. There are three higher education institutions located in Swansea. These include Swansea University, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, and Gower College Swansea.

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.

Belfast

The capital and largest city in Northern Ireland, Belfast is home to more than 340,000 people. The city of Belfast played an important role in the industrial revolution, and became the world’s biggest linen producer. At its heyday, the shipyard was the largest in the world, and was the location in which the Titanic was built. There are two universities located in the city. These are Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University.

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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