How do UK universities compare to international ones?

Rosa Mitchell from Pure Student Living, looks at the issues for UK higher education in the future

The introduction of higher tuition fees coupled with how easy it is to move abroad has resulted in the number of UK students in foreign higher education institutions increasing year on year.

In the 2013-14 academic year, 15,600 UK students were studying in Europe, which is an 115% increase from 2007. As well as this, the number of students from the UK choosing to study in China has increased to 7,400 over the last year. 

Studying abroad can help students develop a whole range of skills, but how do international universities compare against what the UK has to offer? Are students who choose to study abroad making the right choice? 

Times Higher Education world university rankings 

In the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, three of the top 10 global universities are UK based: University of Oxford, University of Cambridge and Imperial College London. This is compared to the USA, who dominate the top 10 with six of their universities making the rankings. 

At first, it may seem like the USA comes out on top, but when the population of both countries is taken into consideration –as well as the fact that the US national income is higher than that of the UK’s – it makes it tougher to make such a straightforward comparison. 

The only other country to enter into the top 10 was Switzerland, with ETH Zurich – Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich. 

More important things that rankings?

As every graduate knows, there is more to the university experience than the rankings your university receives. According to Education UK

  • 93% of postgraduate students rated the UK’s quality of teaching positively
  • The rate of satisfaction among international undergraduates is 91% in the UK, which is higher than any other major English speaking education destination
  • Over 88% of international graduates are satisfied with their learning experience
  • 54% of the research conducted at UK universities is “world leading”

UK universities are also well known for their excellent facilities, including art studios, computer labs, sports centres and libraries.

With UK universities offering world class education, multicultural living, and with lots of jobs having high regards for a qualification from a UK university, the UK’s universities fare well worldwide

The UK now has the highest satisfaction rating amongst competitors for all areas of the student experience; overall satisfaction, learning, living, support and arrival experience.  

An interesting and compact place to live

According to UCAS, many British students choose to stay as they have the opportunity to move to a completely different city from the one they currently live in. 

For international students, there is a mix of cosmopolitan cities, quiet country villages and historic sites to choose from across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Students from places like Australia and the USA are also attracted to the size of the UK – they can travel to lots of different places without breaking the bank. 

As well as this, the strong transport links, famous culture and sporting championships are also a big pull for internationals students. 

With UK universities offering world class education, multicultural living, and with lots of jobs having high regards for a qualification from a UK university, the UK’s universities fare well worldwide.

Some students from the UK are always going to want to study abroad for the adventure, lifestyle change and educational benefits (especially if they are studying a language), regardless of how good the UK’s universities are. To counter this, the UK is one of the most popular destinations for international students, which is testament to how good they are as institutions.

Rosa Mitchell is a writer for Pure Student Living, who provide luxurious student accommodation for students across London.


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