5 progressive UK colleges that develop creative thinkers

Today, international students have plenty of choice when it comes selecting a study abroad destination. Countries like Hong Kong and Canada are emerging as growing international student hubs, while the US struggles to hold its footing as a top choice in the era of Trump.

But when it comes to the UK, the country has consistently landed near the top of the list of premium destinations for international students.

First and foremost, a UK education is respected and recognised worldwide. Academic programmes are world-class, as well as the faculty who teach them.

If an international student wishes to return home after their studies or work elsewhere in the world, a diploma from a UK institution paired with quality educational experience sets them apart from other candidates.

Many colleges here are forward-thinking, meaning they look towards the future to ensure programmes are tailored to prepare students for what lies ahead in fast-evolving economies.

Traditional educational models are gradually making way for progressive ones that teach students important skills through industry-relevant opportunities, and UK colleges are leading the field.

Skills like critical thinking, problem-solving and creativity are highly sought-after by employers today. In terms of creativity, it doesn’t mean students need to be artistic or pursue a creative major like Design, but rather, become creative thinkers.

All humans are innately creative in different ways. Being creative in the workplace means being able to come up with innovative solutions for problem solving.

Colleges develop creative thinkers by constantly challenging them to think outside the box, think entrepreneurially, and exposing them to real-life scenarios so they can develop a creative mindset when tackling various issues.

But academics aside, an international student experience would be incomplete without opportunities to get involved and develop talent through associations, networks, clubs and such, which can be achieved through picking the right college.

Students thrive from a well-rounded education that transforms them personally and professionally through industry-relevant teaching methods and tools for personal development.

Despite some uncertainty over Brexit, international students are still looking towards the UK to gain a top-notch education and a fantastic student experience.

Although the cost of university education in the UK may be higher than other countries, some colleges offer more affordable tuition to international students.

Here are our top picks for five progressively-oriented UK colleges that prepare creative thinkers and nurture student talent.


At this Leicestershire college, students are encouraged to pursue their talents and receive a quality education.

With a long heritage of international education, the college connects students to valuable industry links, while simultaneously enabling them to benefit from smaller class sizes in a close-knit student community.

Here, learners gain the same quality and qualification level as a university course, but also receive access to state-of-the-art facilities and personal time with a tutor.

Courses are focused on training students for the workplace, developed in consultation with industry professionals.

Loughborough College

In terms of student talent, the college has regularly produced graduates who come out on top of their respective fields.

For example, 21-year-old student Chloe Fountain has been named one of the top fifty female engineers under 30 in the UK by The Daily Telegraph.

The flexibility offered here allowed her to work and study at the same time. Alongside earning a Mechanical Engineering degree, the Advanced Apprentice works as a Mechanical CAD (Computer Aided Design) Designer at Cavendish Nuclear in Leicester.

Chloe is just one of the college’s many success stories, which also include student athletes who received 14 medals, including six gold, at the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games; and 30 medals, including 15 gold, at the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Students here are well-supported in their respective pursuits and have excellent prospects, with 98 percent of them either in employment or future studies within six months of graduation.


International students here join a vibrant and culturally-diverse community, with over 200 students from all over the world.

They gain access to excellent study programmes and state-of-the-art facilities, also benefitting from the chance to experience the rich culture in Durham and England’s North East.

Offering much more than just a qualification, 94 percent of graduates from New College Durham are either working or furthering their study soon after graduation.

As an approved Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs (IOEE) Academy, the college supports the development and growth of enterprise through innovative programmes and industry links.

Degree programmes are built around partnerships with employers to make sure students get the most current and relevant skills and knowledge to succeed in their chosen career. There are also flexible options for students so they can work at their own pace.

Since everything is on a smaller scale compared to a big university, students benefit from a more productive learning environment that allows them to collaborate with others.


This college heavily invests in improving students’ chances of progressing in their careers, understanding that getting a good qualification is only one part of the story.

Last year, 96 percent of graduates got a job or went in to further study soon after graduation. All students can make use of Career Path – an easy-to-use online career service that helps them plan their future with free access to information on hundreds of careers, allowing them to make an informed decision.

There’s also BASE, the college’s in-house employability service, located at both the North Road and Lansdowne sites. It’s a free service for students while they are enrolled and up to one-year after graduation.

Students can also get involved in a thriving student community with many sports and activities, as well as a brand-new fitness centre at the Lansdowne site.

There’s even a ‘Sport Maker’ here, which helps students find a sport they love and provides them with opportunities to do it regularly.


Located in Exeter, a prosperous university city, Exeter College grants international students excellent employment prospects and a thriving student life.

With a focus on vocational and professional education, students here acquire the skills, knowledge and understanding that’s highly-valued by employers.

The faculty are specialists in their field with passion for their subjects, giving students the assistance they need to succeed in their future careers.

They also benefit from small class sizes with better engagement in tutorials, more opportunities for their voices to be heard, and more opportunity for peer discussion.

In terms of student life, there’s plenty for students to get involved in here, with a variety of campus sports, clubs, activities, and more.

International students receive support from a dedicated international team and enjoy special events held during the holidays, designed specifically for them – including working with ISCA to promote a summer school.

Love to study in the UK? These affordable colleges provide the same end results as a university while giving students the chance to get involved in a close-knit community.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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