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 kilometers 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 are 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 endeavor to maintain the best research, teaching, and leading standards. Some examples are: The University of Birmingham, the University of Edinburgh, and Durham University.
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 the 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 levels, 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. 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. Speak to our student advisors for more information.
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 UKVI website will provide you with more information about eligibility and restrictions.
The official and national language of the United Kingdom is English. There are other recognized 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.