7 top reasons to study in the UK | Top Universities

7 top reasons to study in the UK

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Stephanie Lukins

Updated May 21, 2024



7 Top Reasons to Study in the UK

Sponsored by Study UK

Did you know that the United Kingdom welcomed more than 500,000 international students in 2019? TopUniversities spoke to three international students to find out what makes the UK one of the most popular study destinations in the world.

World-class education and value for money

University of Glasgow – Gilbert Scott Building. Image credit: University of Glasgow

University of Glasgow – Gilbert Scott Building. Image credit: University of Glasgow

If you’re dreaming of studying at a university with a great academic reputation and value for money, then look no further: the UK’s long-standing reputation for academic excellence dates back to the 11th century, and its universities continue to raise the bar in the world of academia.

There are more than 160 universities and higher education institutions in the UK – 84 of which are featured in the QS World University Rankings 2021.

Many master’s degrees in the UK take just one year to complete compared to other countries. This means you can graduate sooner which, in turn, helps you save money on tuition and accommodation. Tuition fees in the UK are also generally more affordable (depending on the degree programme) compared to other English-speaking study destinations such as Australia and the US. 

For many international students, scholarships are a gateway to pursue their degree in the UK. This was the case for Rodrigo, who is originally from Chile and was awarded a scholarship from the University of Sussex.

“I’ll always be grateful for this. Without the scholarship, I wouldn’t have been able to study in the UK,” said the MSc in Technology and Innovation Management graduate.

For PhD student Asrif, choosing to study in the UK was an easy decision after having already studied the MA in Social Innovation at Cambridge University and the MBA at Imperial College London.

“It began from wanting to experience a new environment,” he said. “I’m at my third UK university now, so I hope that illustrates how much I’m enjoying it.”

Due to COVID-19, Asrif is studying remotely in his home country of Malaysia for his doctorate in Business Administration at Durham University. Reflecting on his study experience so far, he tells us how the faculty have been “engaging and helpful”, as well as how “brilliant” his classmates have been. 

“I think it stems from us all being in the same situation of having to navigate our way through the pandemic. It’s a confusing time, but you adapt as you go along,” he said.

While COVID-19 has meant that universities have taken extra precautions to keep students safe, most UK universities are currently offering a mixture of online and in-person lectures, while others are still teaching completely online. This is subject to change depending on the government’s announcements, and more information can be found on the UK government’s website and university websites.

A degree from a UK university is recognised worldwide and prepares you for the international workplace

Image credit: British Council

Image credit: British Council

“My degree was a game-changer. A UK degree definitely helps you to stand out,” said Rodrigo, who is now the Director of the Early Investment Division of the Entrepreneurship Department at the Chilean Economic Development Agency (CORFO).

Similarly, Zumrud – who studied the MSc in Gender and International Relations at the University of Bristol – said her degree “defined the trajectory of my career”.

Since graduating, Zumrud’s career has seen her become the youngest senior lecturer in her home country of Azerbaijan, help produce an international documentary addressing women’s rights, publish several articles on diversity and inclusivity, and most recently, take up the role of Diversity and Inclusions Advisor at an independent research company which promotes positive change in the legal industry.

She has also recently launched her own social business and runs a social learning platform which encourages positive conversations surrounding gender norms.

The high standards and quality of UK universities means your degree will be held in high regard by employers, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market whether it’s in the UK or elsewhere.

International students who want to stay and work, or look for work in the UK after graduating can apply to do so through the new Graduate Route, which allows graduates to stay in the UK for two years (or three years for PhD students) to do just that.

Where better to immerse yourself in the English language than in the UK?

The UK is the second most popular English-speaking destination in the world for international students. By studying and immersing yourself in the English language in the UK, you’ll be setting yourself up for future success after graduating.

“Studying in the UK helped me to develop my English skills, and if I had studied in Latin America, that would never have happened. After living in the UK for over a year, my language skills increased significantly,” said Rodrigo.

If you need to raise your English language level before you enroll on a UK degree, many universities offer pre-sessional English courses.

Experience a thriving and welcoming student community – wherever you choose to study

Image credit: British Council

Image credit: British Council

The UK has universities in nearly every city – 14 of which are featured in the top 120 QS Best Student Cities.

Wherever you go – whether you prefer the fast-paced lifestyle of cosmopolitan cities like London, Bristol and Cardiff, or the more laid-back culture which can be found in historic cities like Edinburgh, York and Oxford – you can guarantee you’ll be part of a vibrant student community.

Asrif is no stranger to new study experiences and student cohorts, and enjoys meeting new people and making new friends.

“I think I’ve had classmates from every continent, bar Antarctica. Not to mention the network that I’ve built. I’ve had the opportunity to meet some of the kindest and brightest people, and cherish the lifetime friendships that I’ve built with them.” 

Affordable cost of living (and plenty of student discounts)

The UK boasts a pretty affordable cost of living for both domestic and international students. While some cities like London, Oxford and Brighton tend to be on the higher end of the student budget, there are still plenty of affordable student cities in the UK that equally boast a high quality of education and lifestyle, such as Aberdeen, Manchester, and Newcastle.

While university tends to be some of the best years of your life, it comes with its costs. If you’re looking to save a little money (who isn’t?!), making the most of student discounts on things such as travel, shopping and food is an easy way to do just that. Plus, healthcare is usually available free of charge to students in the UK.

You can work part-time during your studies too

International students are typically allowed to work up to 20 hours a week during term-time and full-time during university breaks.

Part-time work is a great chance to not only bump up your bank account, but gain new skills and meet new people. Depending on the job, you might even bag yourself an employee discount!

The UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) websites are useful for up-to-date information about working on a student visa.

Opportunity to explore all the UK (and nearby Europe) has to offer

Image credit: British Council

Image credit: British Council

Being so close to mainland Europe means you’ll have opportunities to explore cities on the continent by taking the Eurostar or a short-haul flight.   

But if you’d rather explore more of what the UK has to offer, then you’ll be spoilt for choice. From palaces and castles to mountains and coastlines, festivals to fabulous food scenes and sporting events; the UK is packed full of rich history and culture that will charm, excite and surprise you.

Zumrud recommends taking advantage of being in the UK while you’re here: “I’m in love with the people, the caring, diverse and inclusive culture, and the beautiful landscapes of the country. Travelling around the United Kingdom was one of my biggest dreams along with receiving my education here.”

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