The 5 best universities in the UK
The UK isn't lacking world-class higher education providers, but these are the cream of the crop! Source: Shutterstock

Cream teas. Tartan. Fish and chips. Cricket. Roast beef. Big Ben. Guinness. Wimbledon.

You’ve got to love the cultural fruits of the UK!

In the 2016-17 academic year, a total 442,375 international students enrolled in higher education courses across the UK. The island conglomerate of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is second only to the US when it comes to prospective students’ dream study destinations.

When you consider that the UK is 40 times smaller than the US, and that it could comfortably fit inside 11 US states, the nation puts up an impressive fight against its dominant rival.

Students of King’s College London (KCL) dancing at London Pride 2018. KCL is the UK’s 7th-best university and the 14th-most international university in the world, with 39 percent of it’s student body hailing from overseas. Source: Shutterstock 

This is the birthplace of Shakespeare and home of The Beatles, but students are also consistently drawn by the nation’s elite higher education landscape and globally-recognised degrees. Feeling inspired? Here are the 5 best universities in the UK according to QS World Rankings 2019.

1. University of Oxford

It will come as no surprise to some that Oxford University is first on the list. As the oldest university in the English-speaking world, with teaching thought to have taken place as far back as the 11th century, Oxford’s provision of a phenomenal education is an almost ancient tradition.

Almost 24,000 students are enrolled here – 11,747 undergraduates (UG) and 11,687 postgraduates (PG). But it’s esteemed reputation means it’s highly competitive, with reams of students vying for a set number of places each year. In 2017, for example, almost 20,000 students applied for around 3,200 UG places. An average of around 6 applicants apply for each available place.

The city of Oxford itself is another huge draw. Its breathtaking architecture, complete with circular domes and grand, castle-like structures, inspired Victorian author Matthew Arnold to coin the title of “the dreaming city of spires”; a name still widely used today.

2. University of Cambridge

Ranked 2nd in the UK and 6th in the world, Cambridge is a veritable force in degree-level education. Comprised of both stunning listed buildings and 31 autonomous colleges, the institution attracts more than 18,000 learners from all walks of life.

With an emphasis on independent, self-directed learning, Cambridge is revered for its ability to produce highly confident and capable graduates. Students here benefit from access to some of the world’s most superior libraries and museum collections, not to mention other specialist facilities like the Language Centre and high-calibre IT resources.

The institution’s host city is known for its small yet sophisticated feel. It’s actually one of the country’s many tourist hot spots, with proximity to London helping its popular status among prospective international students.

3. Imperial College London

At 3rd in the UK and 8th in the world, Imperial certainly packs some punch when it comes to global league tables.

This institution is inherently unique, standing as the only UK institution to specialise in science, engineering, business and medicine. Every year, more than 6,700 degrees are awarded by Imperial; an institution that produces more high-impact research than any other UK institution.

Its central London location is a major perk, with the UK capital ranking as the world’s top student city  according to QS. The school’s main campus can be found in South Kensington, an area known as London’s cultural capital. Here, Prince Albert’s vision for a central zone that merges science and the arts came to fruition in an area otherwise known as the ‘Albertopolis’. This really is the ultimate sight-seeing land, harbouring Exhibition Road – London’s museum district – as well as Kengsington Palace and the Royal Albert Hall.

4. University College London (UCL)

Ranked 10th in the world and 4th in the UK, UCL defines itself as ‘London’s global university’, with the Centre for Languages & International Education (CLIE) offering courses in 17 languages. This powerful community of 1,100 staff and 35,000 students produces an annual income of £1bn, offering a more than significant contribution to the UK economy year after year.

The university is home to centres of teaching excellence in a range of subjects, including medicine, languages, law, engineering, history and astrophysics. It’s a dynamic institution rife with opportunity; a space where approximately 25 percent of students spend time within another country as part of their degree.

UCL is proud to be the first British university to have welcomed any student regardless of religion, also standing as the national pioneer when it came to treating women as equals to men.

5. The University of Edinburgh

At 5th in the UK and 18th in the world, Edinburgh is a higher learning institute with high standards to match.

Together, the university’s College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences; College of Medicine & Veterinary Medicine; and College of Science & Engineering comprise 20 schools, offering a vast range of disciplines that support graduate success. The institution’s excellence is reflected in facilities that attract globally-respected academics – including Nobel Prize winning laureates, adventurous explorers and innovative inventors.

Interestingly, this education powerhouse is the largest provider of online distance learning programmes in the UK’s prominent Russell Group of institutions, offering more than 60 programmes entirely online.

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