Picturesque campus. Easy access to cultural feats, renowned shows, and vibrant shopping streets. Iconic architecture. Many parks, hiking trails, and gardens.
These are some reasons why many international students thoroughly enjoy their time at one of the top universities in the UK — hear it from Bojana Marinkovic, a lawyer who secured the prestigious and competitive Chevening Scholarship.
“Travelling is my passion because I think it is the easiest way to meet a new culture and that is something I am trying to do in my spare time,” she told Study International in an interview.
“So far, I have travelled across Scotland and the northern parts of England. I have to say that Edinburgh is the most beautiful city so far for me in the UK.”
The country has managed to draw thousands like Marinkovic to their shores — and the numbers prove this.
In 2021/22, 679,970 international students studied at UK higher education institutions, according to the UK Higher Education Student Statistics. Of this group, 120,140 were from the EU and 559,825 were non-EU students.
Hence, it begs the question: Do I still have time to apply to a university at this popular destination?
When is the best time to apply to the top universities in the UK?
When applying to one of the top universities in the UK, the first thing you need to know is UCAS.
UCAS (short for the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) is the UK’s shared admissions for higher education.
You may have heard of them from your friends who have been applying to pursue an undergraduate programme in the country.
After all, they support 1.5 million students each year to explore entering higher education, employment and apprenticeships and manage almost three million applications from around 700,000 people annually — both local and international — for full-time undergraduate courses at over 380 universities and colleges across the UK.
They also support those seeking master’s and PhD programmes in UK universities.
While UCAS is the one-stop platform for all your application needs, nothing is stopping you from directly applying to the university that you prefer.
If there’s only one programme you’re interested in, then a direct application might be the best route ot take.
If not, there are plenty of benefits of going through UCAS, which includes:
- Quicker response time on the decision of your application
- More affordable
- Easier to complete an application on UCAS
- Able to upload all your documents instead of submitting them directly to the admissions department
That said, what’s the best time to apply to one of the top universities in the UK?
If you are considering pursuing an undergraduate course, pay attention to the following application deadlines on UCAS:
- Oct. 16, 2023: All Cambridge and Oxford University courses and most medicine, veterinary medicine and dentistry courses at all other institutions
- Jan. 31, 2024: Application deadline for the majority of undergraduate courses for domestic and international students on an equal consideration basis
- June 30, 2024: Final application deadline for all undergraduate courses
Likewise, if you want to pursue a postgraduate degree, take note of the following:
- For courses starting in September and October, UCAS advises applying by June or July of the same year. To be safe, apply at least six months in advance.
- For courses starting at different times of the year, check with the course provider.
For those who have missed the deadline for a recent intake, there is a silver lining.
Below are 10 top universities in the UK — as listed in the QS World University Rankings 2024 — that are accepting 2024 applications:
10 top universities in UK accepting 2024 applications from international students
1. Coventry University
Formerly known as Lanchester Polytechnic, Coventry University is a research university with campuses in London and Coventry. It has research centres that focus on a wide variety of areas, including agroecology and peace studies and the future of transportation.
The university also offers a wide range of undergraduate programmes, from Bachelor of Science in Architectural Engineering to Bachelor of Arts in International Fashion Management and Marketing (Hons).
2. Brunel University
Brunel University is located on the outskirts of London. It was originally founded as Brunel College of Advanced Technology and became Brunel University in 1966.
Today, Brunel University consists of three colleges: the College of Business, Arts and Social Science; the College of Engineering, Design and Physical Sciences; and the College of Health, Medicine, and Life Sciences.
Applications for postgraduate courses in January 2024 include programmes in business, civil engineering, electrical engineering, design, law, mechanical engineering, and many more.
They also include postgraduate research courses and online degrees.
3. Queen Mary University of London
Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) is one of the 24 leading world-class research institutes in the UK that is part of the Russell Group.
You can start some of the university’s most popular postgraduate taught or pre-master programmes in January 2024.
QMUL will be delivering January starts across five of its schools and institutes, as well as the more traditional September start.
Postgraduate taught programmes include areas in law, economics and finance, business and management, as well as medicine and life sciences.
4. Swansea University
Swansea University has been producing world-class research since 1920.
It has a long history of working with business and industry, but today, its research has a much wider impact, reaching across the health, wealth, culture, and well-being of a global society.
Research centres, such as the Centre for Nanohealth, and resources, including the SAIL Databank, promote collaboration between governments, industry, and academia to tackle and prevent diseases, reverse stigmas, and decrease pressures.
While the deadlines to apply for the January 2024 intakes for the undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes have passed, you can still apply to do a postgraduate research degree in April or July 2024.
5. University of Edinburgh
The University of Edinburgh is one of the oldest and largest universities in the UK. Currently ranked #22 in the QS World University Rankings 2024, this university has an illustrious reputation for being one of the largest and most prestigious universities in the world.
Many success stories call this place home. Since its founding in 1583, it has produced Nobel laureates, Olympic champions, space explorers and prime ministers.
It’s the birthplace of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s best-selling character Sherlock Holmes and anaesthesia too, just two among many other discoveries.
2024 applications are now open for students. Take a look at this application timeline to ensure that you don’t miss the deadlines during this process.
6. Lancaster University
Lancaster University is proud to be one of only a handful of UK universities to have a collegiate system. With nine colleges, you’ll be part of a community when you choose to study here.
Its ranking and reputation have also cemented itself as one of the top universities in the UK.
Lancaster University ranks 10th in the Complete University Guide 2024, 11th in the Guardian University Guide 2024 and is among the top 150 universities in this year’s QS World University Rankings.
7. Middlesex University
Middlesex University students learn by doing, often in the best-equipped labs, studios and workshops. It’s how they’ll prepare you for whatever the future brings with opportunities to build your confidence, skills and connections.
Situated in the world’s top student city, its campus in North London offers career-boosting internships, placements, and networking opportunities.
You can also explore iconic London landmarks, with Camden’s Lock Market and Hampstead Heath Park, which are just a short walk or a tube ride away.
The best part? You don’t have to wait until next September to start here. Check out its undergraduate and postgraduate courses starting in January 2024 here and apply directly through the university’s online portal.
8. BPP University
The first publicly owned company in the UK to obtain degree awarding powers, BPP University has four schools focusing on law,business and technology, nursing and health.
From apprenticeships and short courses to professional qualifications and postgraduate programmes, BPP University offers programmes in various fields.
Postgraduate and undergraduate programmes with intakes in January and September 2024 are now open.
9. University of Bedfordshire
Campus locations in Luton, Bedford, Milton Keynes, and Aylesbury. Colourful, culturally diverse towns with a long history and strong sense of community. Beautiful countryside, framed by the Chiltern Hills, at your doorstep.
These are some things you can expect when studying at the University of Bedfordshire.
Postgraduate programmes with intakes in March, May and July 2024 are currently open for application. Click here for more information.
10. Loughborough University
If you’re seeking a PhD, you’re in luck. The university is opening applications for PhD positions for multiple intakes in 2024.