A leading, global education

One in ten current world leaders have studied in the UK, according to new research from the British Council

New British Council analysis has found that of Heads of State who have studied at universities abroad, the proportion of UK alumni rises even higher to 31% – a close second to those who’ve studied in the USA (34%).

But when measured as a proportion of total students in each country, analysis suggests that the UK is ten times more likely to produce a world leader than the USA – UK universities produces one world leader per 50,000 graduates, whereas the US produces one per 500,000.

Head of Education Professor Rebecca Hughes said: ‘It’s a great credit to the UK that our relatively small HE sector has managed to educate one in ten of the current leaders of the world. Having so many Heads of State spend part of their most formative years learning about and being part of UK culture is a fine example of how the UK’s higher education sector is a long-term asset, not just locally, but internationally. However, 20 or 30 years ago, when many of these leaders were considering where to study, the competition between countries to attract them wasn’t anything like as fierce as it is now.”

The British Council has also now launched the Education UK Alumni Awards, as part of a new campaign to identify and celebrate exceptional achievement of recent alumni from China, India and the USA, three of the biggest sources of international students at UK universities, and inspire the next generation of students to study in the UK.

Finalists (announced in 2015) will become part of a new international UK Alumni Award Network, and winners will be invited to the UK to connect with government and industry leaders in a sector of their choice.

Prof Hughes added: “’The UK needs to work harder than ever to attract the next generation of world leaders. As higher education internationalises and technology makes new forms of learning ever more accessible, traditional paths to power are changing rapidly. If we want studying in the UK to remain on that path, we must reach out and celebrate our millions of alumni from around the world. The UK sector and government needs to recognise that hosting a student is more than just someone spending a few years living here, it’s the start of a life-long relationship.’

Celebrated alumni of the UK include designer Jimmy Choo, actress Parineeti Chopra, former US President Bill Clinton, co-founder of LinkedIn Reid Hoffman, Olympic gold medallist Annette Salmeen, Nobel Prize for Literature winner Wole Soyinka, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi and business magnate Zhang Xin.


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