The United Kingdom is an island country in Europe and a world-leading commercial and cultural center. It has a reputation for strong public service broadcasting, historic castles and buildings, and time-honored educational institutes.
The country’s long history includes leading the Industrial Revolution and developing parliamentary democracy. Presently, it is home to the royal family and Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, the longest-reigning monarch in Britain. The United Kingdom continues to have a great economic and political influence in the world. In this article, I hope that this article on the best universities in the United Kingdom for international students was helpful.
Is the United Kingdom Good for International Students to Study In?
Universities in the United Kingdom are leading in teaching and research in the world. They consistently rank among the top universities globally. Thus, over 500,000 international students apply to UK institutions every year. You can reduce overall fees and living costs in the UK because courses are shorter than in other countries. You may need to demonstrate English proficiency to enjoy over 50,000 world-class higher education courses.
Living in the UK guarantees a rich diversity of culture, efficient transport links, safe accommodation, and extraordinary cuisine. England, Northern Ireland, Wales, and Scotland each offer a unique experience, whether from its cosmopolitan cities, countryside villages, or historic old towns. The United Kingdom is also a venue for famous music festivals and international events in sports.
Can International Students Work in the United Kingdom While Studying?
International students who wish to engage in part-time work have to follow some rules and regulations. Students staying for more than six months in the UK are given a student visa that allows part-time jobs up to 20 hours per week. During vacations, students may work full-time. Students studying presessional English or any below UK degree level courses may only 10 hours per week. Lastly, short-term study visas do not allow students to work at all.
Can International Students Stay in the United Kingdom After Graduation?
Starting in 2021, the United Kingdom launched a new graduate immigration route. After graduation, international students can change their current visas to post-study work visas. With this, you are allowed to stay for up to two years in the country and take on paid employment or start a business. Ph.D. students are allowed to stay for three years. At the end of the post-study work duration, you can apply for another UK visa or settlement options with the Immigration Office.
Best Universities in the United Kingdom for International Students
1. University of Oxford
The oldest university in the English-speaking world, the University of Oxford is the best university in the United Kingdom for international students. It has 39 independent colleges, six private halls, over 100 libraries, and the largest university press in the world. The university is ranked number one worldwide for medicine and is world-leading in its four academic divisions: Social Sciences, Medical Sciences, Humanities, and Mathematical, Physical & Life Sciences. Since 2017, Oxford University has consistently ranked first internationally in Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings.
The collegiate institution is scattered around Oxford, making it a “city university.” Colleges and halls organize weekly small-group tutorials for undergraduate teaching, a feature unique to the university and its close relation, Cambridge. Over 24,000 students study at Oxford University, and about 45% are international students.
2. University of Cambridge
The University of Cambridge, one of the best universities in the United Kingdom for international students, was founded by a group of scholars that left Oxford University in 1209. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world. Over 150 academic departments in Cambridge are organized into six schools: Clinical Medicine, Biological Sciences, Physical Sciences, Technology, Social Sciences, and Arts. Cambridge University has produced the most PhDs and research paper outputs in all of the British Universities. The university coordinates closely with tech ventures like Silicon Fen and major universities outside the UK like MIT.
Cambridge is ranked sixth globally for “openness and diversity,” with over 4000 international students. Its small group teaching sessions like Oxford provide close supervision and effective teaching.
3. Imperial College of London
The Imperial College of London is a public research institution that focuses on medicine, science, technology, and business. It was established in 1907 as a merger of the Royal College of Science, the Royal School of Mines, and the City & Guilds College. Today, it has high-ranking subjects in clinical health, physical sciences, engineering & technology, and computer science. An established leader in research and education, Imperial produced several Nobel Prize Winners, thinkers, and artists like Sir Alexander Fleming, Thomas Huxley, Brian May, H.G. Wells, and more.
Imperial ranked first in the UK for Innovation. This forward approach applies to its internationally excellent research and inclusive community. Over 59% of Imperial’s students are from outside the UK.
4. UCL (University College London)
UCL is the United Kingdom’s largest university in terms of total enrollment. This top university in the United Kingdom for international students was founded in 1826 and inspired by the radical thinking of English philosopher Jeremy Bentham. UCL was the first university in England to admit students regardless of gender and religion. With eleven faculties and over 100 departments, the comprehensive institute delivers high-quality teaching and research. Their research priorities include Sustainable Cities, Global Health, Human Well-being, and Intercultural Interaction.
UCL ranks in the global top 10 in anthropology, architecture, education & training, medicine, and more. It further fosters knowledge and culture with museums ranging from archaeology to art to anatomy. It also administers the Orwell Prize, a prestigious award for political writing in London.
5. London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)
London School of Economics and Political Science is a public research university dedicated to the broad subject area of social science. Since its foundation in the 1800s, the university pledged to improve society through analyzing poverty, inequalities, and related issues. It displays academic excellence in politics, law, sociology, economics, and anthropology. LSE has produced over 50 world leaders and 18 Noble Prize laureates, including the philosopher Bertrand Russel.
LSE is one of the best universities in the UK for international students with over 9600 students from nations outside the UK. It has close partnerships with Columbia University, Peking University, the University of Cape Town, and more institutions abroad.
6. University of Edinburgh (UoE/Edin)
The University of Edinburgh is a prestigious research university and one of the oldest universities in the English-speaking world. It made significant contributions to the Scottish Enlightenment in Edinburgh that earned the city the nickname “Athens of the North.” Presently, this top university in the UK has 20 academic schools in three colleges: Science and Engineering, Medicine and Veterinary Science, and Arts, Humanities, and Social Science. Moreover, it ranks top in the UK for medicine and informatics research.
The UoE has five main campuses in Edinburgh, a known cultural hub. It is a site of historical and architectural prowess. Aside from academics, the university students and alumni also excel in performing arts, sports, and independent publications.
7. King’s College London (King’s/KCL)
King’s College London is one of the best universities in the UK that resulted from eminent social changes in the Industrial Revolution. King’s is renowned for its research contributions in stem-cell cloning, DNA discovery, Higgs boson, communication technology, and more. The university is a major center for healthcare education, dentistry, and nursing with several teaching hospitals. Moreover, it leads in biomedical research, being the only World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) accredited laboratory in the UK.
KCL has five campuses all around London, providing quality education far and wide. It closely cooperates with the British Museum, British Library, Shakespeare Globe, and more. Furthermore, KCL’s global engagements provide enriching experiences for students and staff.
8. University of Manchester (UoM)
The University of Manchester is the UK’s largest single-site university. Its buildings are integrated with Manchester city, including parks, residences, and the Jodrell Bank Observatory. Three faculties comprise the University of Manchester. These are Biology, Medicine, and Health, Science and Engineering, and Humanities. It is most notable in the subjects of economics, social sciences, life sciences, and engineering.
With its large campus and diverse programs, the University of Manchester naturally has the largest student population in the UK. UoM students enjoy a lively campus, an extensive National Research Library, an art gallery, and sports facilities.
9. University of Warwick (Warwick)
The University of Warwick was established from a government initiative to expand higher education in England in 1965. It is comprised of over 30 academic departments in the faculties of Arts, Science Engineering and Medicine, and Social Sciences. Among its highest-ranking subjects are Mathematics, Management, Statistics, and Economics. The university also operates a Business School, a Medical School, the Coventry College of Education, and the Horticulture Research International.
As one of the best universities in the UK for international students, the University of Warwick has over 26,000 students, and more than 43% come from outside the United Kingdom. It has close partnerships with major international universities like Columbia University, Cornell University, McGill University, UC Berkeley, and others.
10. University of Bristol (Bristol)
The University of Bristol started as an engineering faculty then grew into one of the best research universities in England. It offers first-class teaching in the following faculties: Arts, Engineering, Life Sciences, Science, Health Sciences, and Social Sciences and Law. The highest-ranking courses in the university are Computer Science, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Biological Sciences, Psychology, and Mathematics. Moreover, the institution is a member of prestigious university groups such as the Russel Group, the Coimbra Group, and the Worldwide Universities Network.
The university fulfills the Bristol Futures principles and values: innovation & enterprise, global citizenship, and sustainable futures. These principles shape academic excellence that produces well-rounded students and graduates.
11. Kingston University
Kingston University is a prestigious university that specializes in art programs. It is one of the best universities in the UK for anyone interested in pursuing a career in design, illustration, animation, and other artistic fields. Guardians 2022 Rankings ranked it among the top 50 universities in the UK.
Located near the River Thames, Kingston University is a great place to study for local and international students. The campus is near several accommodation options, and the students can find stores in charming old buildings around town.
The university also has a sizeable international student body. Almost a quarter of its student population are international students from over 140 countries.
12. University of Buckingham
The University of Buckingham is a private university with the only Royal Charter granted by the monarchy. The university offers courses in Law, Humanities, Arts & Languages, Business, and Science and Medicine.
The University of Buckingham is very selective. Studying here is an excellent choice as it is ranked by the Office for Students National Student Survey as 6th overall in student satisfaction and 3rd in academic support in the UK.
13. University College Birmingham
Located at the center of Britain’s biggest regional city, University College Birmingham (UCB) is a specialist academy. Initially named the Midland School Cookery in the 1880s, the university had undergone remarkable development and was finally granted full university status in 2012.
The university offers a wide variety of degree programs, from apprenticeships to postgraduate degrees. UCB’s mission is to provide quality education to those with the ambition and drive to succeed.
UCB is an excellent choice for both local and international students. Its student population of 7,500 is comprised of 900 international students from more than 65 countries.
14. Royal Holloway University
Though it is now among the top UK universities, the Royal Holloway University came from humble beginnings. It was among the first places in the UK where women were granted access to higher education. Established in 1849, it was first named Bedford College before being formally called Royal Holloway University.
The university is renowned in research. Its projects are ranked by the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 within the top 25% of all research in the UK. It was also ranked 15th in the UK for quality of research by Times Higher Education (THE). Royal Holloway University has over 11,500 students and 1,800 of which are international students.
The university is also known to have one of the most beautiful campuses in the world because of its beautifully decorated Founder’s building and Picture Gallery.
15. University of Southampton
The University of Southampton is ranked by The Sunday Times Good University Guide as the 15th best university to study in the UK. Over 22,000 students are enrolled in the university, and more than 30% are international students.
The school administration takes great lengths to ensure their students succeed, often collaborating with other institutions worldwide to provide their students with unique learning opportunities.
16. St. Andrew’s University
St. Andrews University is an international university in Scotland with a culturally diverse staff and students from over 120 nationalities. It is located at the heart of the small town of St. Andrews. Students may find living here charming and peaceful.
The university’s mission is to be recognized as a world-class institution pioneer in many fields. It is renowned for its teaching system and the learning opportunities provided to the students.
Many international students call St. Andrews home and celebrate centuries-old traditions with fellow students and citizens. Students here are also active in town politics, participate in fundraising activities, and volunteer in various organizations.
17. University of Leeds
The University of Leeds was established in 1904 and is one of the largest universities in the UK. They are known for their excellent research and teaching methods. Through these, the university aims to improve further the lives of its students and the local community in Leeds.
As one of the UK’s top universities, the University of Leeds has received numerous awards for academic excellence. It was awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize in 2009, 2011, and just recently, in 2021. There are currently more than 39,000 students enrolled at the university, and 13,400 are international students from 137 countries.
The main campus in Leeds is a ten-minute walk from the city center, with accommodations for fitness, sports, and health facilities just within a short distance.
18. University of Nottingham
The University of Nottingham is a prestigious university, making it an excellent choice for international students. The school administration aims to expand its global reach and has established satellite campuses in Malaysia and China.
This university is a prominent research institute in the UK. It employs an interdisciplinary approach to research which helped several of its alums win Nobel Prizes, the most famous being Sir Peter Mansfield’s work on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
19. Durham University
Durham University is an internationally-recognized hub of research and academic excellence. The university is well-known for conducting innovative research that improves the quality of life.
Ranked among the top 90 universities in the world by the QS Rankings, the university’s high standards for education are evident in its curricula. Durham University offers students over 300 programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
There are 20,000 students spread within its 17 colleges, 26 departments, and four faculties, with over 30% being international students.
20. Brunel University
Named after the famous engineer Isambard Brunel, Brunel University is dedicated to providing quality research and education to the industries’ needs, preparing its students to be globally competitive professionals.
This top institution in the UK is located between Heathrow Airport and Central London, an area that is safe and friendly for students.
Brunel University strives to offer the best student experience in the UK. There are several top-of-the-line sports facilities available for students and restaurants located on-campus. A sound student support services system is also in place.
21. University of Glasgow
The University of Glasgow has a five-century-long history that focuses on educating students who will have the power to change the world. The university is famous for producing prominent historical figures, such as the economist Adam Smith, the architect Donald Delwar, and renowned physicist Lord Kelvin. It is also a pioneer in developing new treatments for conditions like cancer, heart complications, and other chronic diseases.
As one of the top schools in the UK, it’s no surprise that the university takes in students from 140 countries worldwide and has around 35,000 students annually. The university also offers its students opportunities through partnerships with various institutes worldwide, particularly in Singapore and China.
22. University of Sheffield
The University of Sheffield was founded in 1905 and has a 117-year-long history of shaping the world through its research. The university focuses on projects that improve quality of life.
Research teams from the University of Sheffield pioneered research in many fields, from the first medical use of penicillin to developing the drugs used to treat ovarian and breast cancer.
Students around the world regard the University of Sheffield as a desirable place to learn, and the university welcomes students from over 140 countries.
23. Queen Mary University of London (QMUL)
Founded in 1785, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is a quality research university that teaches various subjects, from humanities to science and engineering. QMUL is located in the culturally diverse and student-friendly area of East London, boasting the most extensive residential campuses in the English capital.
QMUL offers its students a high-quality and engaging learning experience through its doors, with access to its top-of-the-line facilities and competent teaching staff backed by its research. That is why students from over 160 countries vie for a spot to study on one of its campuses.
24. Lancaster University
Lancaster University aims to sustain its reputation as one of the top UK schools. It welcomes students from over one hundred countries, encourages their growth, and instills global values in each one.
Students get access to the best education possible and produce top-class graduates desired in every corner of the globe. Lancaster University accomplishes this initiative through partnerships with like-minded institutions and by establishing overseas branches in China, Germany, Ghana, and Malaysia.
The university can accommodate 7,000 students in its residential halls. Facilities like the campus pharmacy, health centers, and its famous Lancaster University Sports Centre are also available on-campus. Aside from that, the university also has multi-faith facilities for major religions on campus grounds.
25. University of York
A member of the Russell Group, the University of York is an institute prioritizing the development of research-intensive education. It achieves this by partnering with numerous institutions worldwide. Their students benefit from these links, and employers worldwide hire their graduates as top talents—their international student body numbers 22,000 people across its 30 departments.
The university offers its students excellent facilities and accommodation that make them feel right at home. There are also cycling lanes that have designated parking spaces and routes, with a dedicated information app set up to help you commute through the streets of York.
26. Newcastle University
Located on the UK’s North-Eastern coastline, Newcastle University is a top-rated academic institution that welcomes students from over 140 countries. It is widely famous for its quality education and high employability. It is also included in the world’s top 125 universities according to the QS World University Rankings.
Its 50-acre wide campus offers its students a wide range of facilities, from research, teaching, and recreational activities, boasting an extensive collection of resources across its four libraries.
The university administration also promotes a sustainable lifestyle to its students on campus grounds. There are also accommodations and restaurants set up, as well as cultural events, accessible theaters, and museum visits in the city that students can enjoy.
27. University of Exeter
A member of the Russell Group, the University of Exeter is a top institution in the UK that’s known for its excellent student satisfaction rates. The university also has a reputation for upholding world-class excellence in both teaching and research, garnering a Gold award from the Teaching Excellence Framework.
The university also prioritizes bringing a global and diverse experience to its campuses, welcoming 25,000 students from over 130 countries and establishing partnerships with its students and other international academic organizations.
Students can benefit from excellent teaching and research facilities on various courses, most notably the Environment and Sustainability Institute at Penryn Campus and the Living Systems Institute and Digital Humanities Lab at Streatham Campus.
28. University of Sussex
Founded in the 1960s, the University of Sussex was one of the first universities granted a Royal Charter. Today, the university’s mission is to deliver innovative education that’s exciting, appealing, and engaging to students from all walks of life.
So far, the university has 18,000 students, with 35% being overseas students, supported by more than 2,000 staff members. The university has also established an extensive global presence in the past decade, partnering with 329 academic institutions across 59 countries.
At the university, students will feel right at home with the accommodations. There are also many facilities on and off campus, including shops, bars and cafes, study spaces, and health centers.
29. University of Bath
The University of Bath is a research-intensive university, with the Research Excellence Framework recognizing the university as internationally excellent in 2021. The city of Bath was also deemed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, with loads of historic locations students can explore around the university.
The university currently has over 19,000 students enrolled through its various programs, with 32% coming from over 147 nationalities. Students can also enjoy the whole experience of living in Bath while also immersing themselves in a friendly and safe community.
You can enjoy many facilities on or off campus, with great bars and restaurants for socializing. The city also has museums and galleries, with gorgeous parks and gardens to relax in.
30. University of Liverpool
Founded in 1881, the University of Liverpool is a research powerhouse known for its world-class education and strong international student community. The university also aims to support its students as they become graduates who are ready to compete in the global market.
Renowned as one of the best UK universities, the University of Liverpool houses a large student population. It has 22,000 students studying undergraduate and postgraduate courses. The university also has partnerships and collaborations with 1,300 external organizations worldwide.
I hope that this article on the best universities in the UK for international students was helpful. If you would like to know more information on studying abroad, check out the United Kingdom Programs for International Students!