Why are students choosing to study in the UK? | Top Universities

Why are students choosing to study in the UK?

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Aisha Khan

Updated Jul 06, 2023




Home to Buckingham Palace, the Beatles, pub roasts and the London Underground, the UK is also the second most popular destination for international students worldwide. According to Universities UK, there were 463,315 sponsored study visas granted in the year ending September 2022 – the highest annual number of study visas granted on record and an increase on pre-pandemic levels.  

So, why does the UK remain one of the most popular countries for international students around the world? Here are three major reasons why students choose to study in the UK: 

Top-ranked institutions 

University of Oxford

With 17 universities featured in the top 100 of the QS World University Rankings 2023, it’s undeniable that the UK has some of the world’s most prestigious and esteemed higher education institutions. Whether you want to study engineering, history, politics or nursing, the UK has top-ranked universities for a variety of subjects.  

For arts and humanities, the University of Oxford takes the top spot for English language and literature, theology, and modern languages according to the latest release of the QS World University Rankings by Subject. Other examples include the Royal College of Art, which is ranked as the best university in the world for art and design.  

Four UK universities are included in the top ten institutions for medicine, with Oxford ranked second and UCL and Imperial College London in seventh and eighth place respectively.  

If you’re interested in a STEM degree, you’ll be pleased to know that the UK performs strongly in all areas. Three UK universities are included in the top 10 for chemical engineering (Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial). Oxford and Cambridge also feature in the top 10 for computer science and electronic and electrical engineering.  

An abundance of career opportunities 

Contrary to what some might assume, career opportunities are plentiful in cities outside of the UK’s capital. Data from the QS Best Student Cities 2023 ranking shows that Edinburgh, Glasgow and Newcastle are listed as some of the best UK cities for employability, whilst also ranking high for desirability – a double win for graduates.  

If you’re looking for career in tech, Manchester is consistently named as one of the best tech hubs in the UK and houses major companies like the BBC and ITV Granada.  

The cities listed above are also generally more affordable compared to London. Average monthly rent in Sheffield, for example, amounts to £1,074 for a three-bed terrace house or city-centre flat. 

A great student experience 

Regardless of whether you choose to study at a city or campus-based university, UK universities are well known for their vibrant social communities. Studying in the UK also means you can travel around the country to picturesque places including the Lake District, or cities like Belfast in Northern Ireland.  

Nhi Mai Ngyuen, an Erasmus student from France who studies business at the University of Edinburgh said: “In terms of cultural attractions, there is no doubt that Edinburgh is one of the most fascinating cities in the world. The Scots are cheeky, friendly and funny! 

“I've made new friends with whom I shared my best undergrad memories, such as hiking in the Highlands and watching football in pubs. As an international student, I enjoy the artsy vibes of the city.” 

Mari, an international relations student originally from Tokyo, said that studying in the UK allowed her to expand her horizons for the first time.  

A student at King’s College London, she said: “Meeting people from around the world, I’ve been able to contribute to different discussions that I’d never have engaged in had I not studied abroad. My course mates are from a broad range of countries and that provides a global experience for us all. 

“When settling into the UK, my friends have introduced me to world foods that I’d never tried. I’d make ramen and they would cook Taiwanese, Chinese, and Turkish food for me. Food is an amazing way to make new friends.” 

Which UK university should you apply to? 

QS can help you decide which UK universities to apply to. We also help with admissions advice, visa requirements and you can manage your offers in one place, all with a single application. Apply now to find your dream university! 

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