Study in United Kingdom
Studying in the UK as an international student offers a unique and rewarding experience. The country has a well-deserved reputation for providing high-quality education and an excellent student life. The UK is home to some of the world's oldest and best universities, renowned for their leading academics and expertise in research.
One of the factors that contribute to the UK's academic excellence is its focus on small-group teaching, investment in education, and attracting leading academics to work in universities. These efforts ensure that students receive a world-class education regardless of where they study in the UK.
In addition to academic excellence, the UK also offers a diverse and vibrant student life. Major university cities like London, Glasgow, Cardiff, and Manchester provide fantastic nightlife, music, and cultural experiences. Students can also explore stunning areas of natural beauty such as the Scottish Highlands and Derbyshire's Peak District.
Given the amazing opportunities and experiences on offer, it's no surprise that the UK is a popular destination for international students.
The benefits of studying in the UK
Educational excellence - The UK is home to several universities that are regarded amongst the best in the world. A degree from any UK university will be globally accepted by international universities, top employers and government bodies.
The chance to improve your English - Studying in the UK offers immersion in the English language and exposure to diverse accents and dialects, enriching the educational experience for international students.
Job opportunities - Studying in the UK isn't just about hitting the books - it's a gateway to exciting opportunities and a fulfilling career. Along with the chance to work part-time while studying, international students can stay for up to two years after graduation to kick-start their professional journey.
The most common intake for UK universities is in September, which is the traditional start of the academic year. There are also opportunities to begin shorter courses in January and May
Read more about intakes in UK here.
Top UK Universities
The table below lists top UK universities and their rankings.
|University||QS Rank 2023||THE Rank 2023|
|University of Oxford||4||1|
|University of Cambridge||2||=3|
|University college London||8||22|
|Imperial College London||6||10|
|University of Edinburgh||15||29|
|London School of economics||56||37|
|King's college London||37||35|
|University of Warwick||64||=104|
|The university of Manchester||28||54=|
|University of Bristol||61=||76|
Updated on March 28, 2023
The University of Oxford - Ranked as the second best university in the world by QS Top Universities, Oxford is the oldest in the English-speaking world. Its reputation alone is enough to attract international students in their thousands, but it’s the quality of the education that ensures they go on to achieve great things.
The University of Cambridge - The UK’s other most famous university attracts around 9000 international students from over 140 countries and has the widest-reaching alumni network of any university worldwide.
University College London - For international students looking for a world-class education in the heart of one of the most exciting cities on the planet, UCL has everything. It’s ranked 8th globally, has more than 30 Nobel laureates among its former staff and students and offers a student life with all the attractions of central London.
University of Edinburgh - The sixth-oldest university in continuous operation in the English-speaking world has around 35,000 students on campus each year with around 16,000 coming from abroad. It received its royal charter from King James VI in 1582 and opened a year later, making it one of four ‘ancient universities’ in Scotland.
University of Manchester - Based in one of the most lively cities for student life in the UK, Manchester has one of the top universities in the UK. Its origins date back to 1824 and today it has more than 40,000 students with more than 10,000 coming from 160 countries worldwide. Manchester is the most targeted university by the top 100 graduate employers in the UK and is also ranked 42nd in the world in the QS Employability Rankings 2022.
Also read List of affordable universities in UK
The traditional degree course in the UK consists of three-year undergraduate courses, though some subjects require an additional year, typically those in science and engineering disciplines. There are also fast-track degrees available, which fit the course into a two-year period instead.
Undergraduate courses can also be done as dual-honours degrees where two courses are split up and worked on at the same time, giving the student a wider range of modules and experiences to help their employment options.
Unlike many other countries, the UK generally runs 1-year masters degrees rather than over two years, which can make it an attractive option for this level of education, where the same qualification can be achieved in half the time.
There are also foundation courses available to assist international students with English language skills or to help meet conditional offer agreements.
If you want to study in the UK from abroad, you will generally need to take a test to prove your proficiency in the English language, covering writing, speaking, listening and reading. Each institution will specify which test or tests they require you to pass to prove that your English skills are good enough to study there.
The most common tests for UK universities are IELTS, TOEFL , PTE Academic and Cambridge English Advanced, all of which are generally accepted by most education providers and UK immigration services. However, it is important to check with your chosen course and institution before paying to take one so that it will be accepted.
Other exams you may be required to take depend on the type of course you wish to study. The GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test) is usually required for business graduate programs, evaluating algebra, arithmetics, geometry, grammar and more. The GRE (Graduate Record Examination) is similar but more broadly used, while there are specific tests for law, medical and mathematics students.
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1. Student visa
All international students apart from Irish students need to get a visa to study in the UK. A student visa is an official government permit that allows you to enter, stay and study in the UK. There are certain other benefits and restrictions based on the type of student visa. There are three types of student visas - short-term study visa, student visa and child student visa, which is valid for students between the age of 4 and 17.
- Student visa requirements for the UK
You need to be 16 years or older to apply for a short-term study visa or a student visa. You need an unconditional offer from a UK university that is a licenced visa sponsor. You need to have good English language communication skills. In some instances, you might have to provide test scores like the IELTS scores as proof and you need to have all the required documents.
- Application Process
You can apply for the UK student visa online through the UK Visas & Immigration portal. Though this process is online, you will have to physically go to a local visa centre for giving your biometric data and attending your interview.
- Admission Requirements
Candidates are usually advised to apply at least three months before their intended date of departure. Typically, you will be told the final status of your visa within three weeks after submitting your application.
The average application cost for a UK student visa is £348. It is £97 for a 6-month short term study visa and £186 for an 11-month short term study visa.
2. Cost of living
- Cost to study - These vary based on your study level and which institution you are attending. The average international student tuition fee in the UK is around £22,000 a year, with fees ranging from £11,400 to £38,000. Postgraduate fees can vary from £9,000 to £30,000 with an average of around £17,000.
- Living costs - Again, these vary depending on where you are studying. An international student in London can expect to need between £1,300 and £1,400 for living costs per month, while these can be £900-£1,300 in the rest of the UK. These costs would cover accommodation, groceries, bills and general average living expenses.
How to cut costs while studying in UK
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3. Student life
Studying in the United Kingdom can allow international students to experience the best of student life. Many universities have integrated halls of residence and students become firm friends with their flatmates and others on their course.
Societies and sports are a great way to get involved with British life. The majority of universities have Athletic Unions and compete against each other in sports such as rugby, football, netball, and swimming.
Student Unions are also home to societies and community groups. This includes International Students’ Societies and volunteering groups in the local area.
You can also work part-time alongside your studies, which is a great way to gain valuable experience and develop your CV. There is also the opportunity to work in the UK after graduation.
Guides: Student accommodations in UK | Student life | Collegiate system in UK
Scholarships are financial aids given to students to help fund their education. Unlike a student loan, you don't have to pay back the money you received.
The UK offers financial assistance for international students through many scholarships, and bursaries. Visit UKSICA’s webpage on scholarships to learn more about UK government student support.
Government scholarships can be competitive, but they are not the only way to fund your studies. Private scholarships are financial aid provided by businesses, charities, foundations and individual people with a vision for global education.
Most UK universities offer multiple scholarships and financial aids for international students. These scholarships are easier to acquire than government and private scholarships. In most cases, you will have to apply for financial assistance or scholarship while submitting your university application, so you need to prepare in advance and make sure you meet all the requirements.
Can I study in the UK without IELTS?
It is possible to study in the UK without taking IELTS or an equivalent English language proficiency test. Several universities offer courses where this isn’t a requirement, but these are in the minority so you should generally assume it will be needed for most courses, particularly at more competitive universities.
Is UK or US cheaper to study?
Generally it is cheaper to study in the UK than the US, both in terms of tuition fees and living costs, though these can vary from institution to institution and from city to city. However, tuition fees are usually cheaper in the UK than in the US, where there are no limits on what universities can charge.
Is studying in UK worth the money?
This depends on the specific course and university you are planning to apply for, but as a general rule, studying in the UK can get you a qualification that is internationally-recognised. It can also improve your English language skills, make you more employable and you can have a lot of fun while achieving these.
Is UK expensive for international students?
This can vary depending on where you are studying, with much higher living costs for those based in London compared to other cities. However, the cost of living in the UK can be high compared to many other countries in the world, so you need to budget carefully before deciding to study abroad here.
Can I get PR in UK after study?
It is possible to get permanent residence in the UK after you have completed your studies, though your first step would be to get a Post Study Work Visa, which will allow you to stay in the UK for up to two years to find a job. You can then apply for a standard work visa and after five years apply for an indefinite leave to remain visa to become a permanent resident.
What is the IELTS score required for admission to UK?
For a general UK student visa you need an IELTS score of 5.5 overall and in each of the four skills. However, you should refer to the specific requirements of your course and institution.
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