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The Best Universities in the UK For International Students

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The UK has plenty of respected and renowned universities. Most of these schools are welcoming to foreign students, but some are particularly good at providing a world-class education for students coming from abroad.

In this article for international students in the UK, we cover:

An overview of the British education system

The best universities in the UK for international students


Some of the best unis in the UK for specific fields (e.g. law, medicine, business, psychology).

The UK education system: A quick overview

There technically isn’t one overarching United Kingdom education system. Rather, each nation (England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland) has its own system.  

There are four types of schools in England that can provide higher education. These are: 

  • Universities
  • University colleges
  • Higher Education (HE) colleges
  • Private colleges.

Students can usually enter undergraduate courses from age 18. These courses range from certificates of higher education and diplomas to bachelor’s degrees and foundation degrees. These awards are ranked in levels. For example, a diploma of higher education is level 5, whereas a degree in dentistry, medicine, or veterinary science is level 7.  

Postgraduate study is available to any student who has completed a degree. These come in a variety of forms including graduate diplomas, postgraduate certificates, and master’s degrees. 

Many English schools also offer integrated masters degrees, which automatically bridge the gap between undergraduate and postgraduate studies.

Once you have both an undergraduate and postgraduate qualification, you may be able to study a PhD or professional doctorate (the highest level of university education in England).  

Other countries in the UK have a similar higher education system to this, but you might notice some slight differences if you study in Wales, Scotland, or Northern Ireland.  

With so many prestigious colleges in the UK, it’s difficult to identify the “best”. But these five universities are consistently ranked among the top schools around the world:

University of Oxford

The English-speaking world’s oldest university is perhaps the UK’s most well-known and reputable institution. Over 20,000 students attend Oxford, with around 40% of them being international students.

University of Cambridge

This storied school caters to over 18,000 students with six academic schools. It has over 100 libraries, more than 80 sports offerings, and a plethora of extracurricular activities and societies.

University College London

UCL has a reputation worldwide for high-quality teaching and research. Its location in central London is convenient and ideal for international students who wish to embrace English culture between lessons. The University of London’s international programmes are among the best available in the UK, and this college is commonly regarded as one of the

Best universities in London.

University of Edinburgh

From industry pioneers to Nobel Prize winners, the University of Edinburgh attracts top talent from around the globe.

About 30% of the cohort here is comprised of international students.

University of Manchester

This university offers over 1,000 degrees ranging from foundation courses to PhDs. It’s at the forefront of research in several industries including science, engineering, and medicine.

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