Study Abroad

The 8 Best Universities in England for International Students

Lauren Fitzpatrick

Lauren is a writer, expat, and former working holiday addict setting up shop in Australia. She's busy embracing surfing, reversed seasons, and cricket, but not Vegemite.

So you want to study in England? Fantastic choice. Not only are you a stone’s throw from continental Europe, you have access to a long list of globally recognized universities. Whether you are an undergraduate, postgraduate, or study abroad student, there are schools to meet your needs. Most schools have international student offices that can assist you with visas, scholarships, and language courses if necessary.

England is a true travel hub, with rail, bus, and airport links to the rest of the world. It’s easy to get to and from, and for the English speaker it’s a nice transition, as you won’t face a language barrier (though deciphering slang and accents is another story) You’ll find history, architecture, cosmopolitan cities, and beautiful scenery all in one little country.

The real challenge is choosing a university that’s right for you. With all of the information available, it can be tough to choose. Consider your preferred program of study, university size, proximity to major cities, and available scholarships to help narrow down the choices. Read on for the best universities in England for international students.

1. Oxford University

Chances are, you’ve heard of Oxford. It’s the oldest university among English-speaking countries, and if that’s not enough, scenes from the Harry Potter movies were filmed here. One-third of Oxford’s student body is international, and sixty-three percent of post-graduate students come from outside of the UK. The university’s strength is in research that covers multiple disciplines, from humanities to medicine.

Oxford is about 90 minutes northwest of London. The campus is gorgeous and the town has a long history of craft breweries. What more could you ask for from a college town?

2. Kingston University

As a Kingston alumnus, I had to list this university first. Located in Kingston-upon-Thames, about 30 minutes southwest of London, this is a great place to study. There are postgraduate scholarship opportunities and meet-ups for international students. The campus is compact, and there are a number of accommodation options nearby.

It was the only university I came across to offer a Masters Degree in travel writing – a discipline that was right up my alley. Although the in-class time was less than what I was used to (2 classes a week for 1 year), the support was excellent and I was thrilled with the results.

Kingston is a charming town on the River Thames; a shopper’s paradise with charming old buildings. It’s cozy in the winter and balmy in summer, making it a fun place to be a student.

3. University of Manchester

The 8 Best Universities in England for International Students: University of Manchester

With 8,000 international students, Manchester claims to have one of the most diverse student populations in the UK. They offer airport pickup for students and host information sessions in countries around the world, including Brunei, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Accommodation is guaranteed for all fee-paying international students.

Manchester is a lively town in northwest England, and is known for its football team as well as architecture and music scene. Manchester is serviced by buses, rail, and has its own airport.

4. University College London

Known as ‘London’s Global University,’ UCL is a popular spot with international students. It is one of the top universities in the UK and has a top-ten ranking with QS World University Rankings. Classes are small, with an average of nine students per teacher. Thirty percent of students are international, and courses focus on internationally relevant topics.

UCL is located smack-dab in London’s Bloomsbury, a pretty neighborhood near Regent’s Park and the British Museum. As an international capital, London is hard to beat – you’ll never run out of things to do.

5. University of Southampton

The Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2012 ranked Southampton 7th in the UK for student satisfaction. Out of the 22,000 students enrolled, 5,000 are international. Every student is entitled to three years of career advice after graduation, and the university collaborates with academic institutions all over the world.

Southampton is on the south coast of England, near the Isle of Wight. Old town walls still stand, and it was the launching pad for the RMS Titanic, which you might be familiar with. Its nickname is the “Green City,” thanks to its parks and green spaces, which make it conducive to summer festivals and events.

6. Bristol University

The 8 Best Universities in England for International Students: Bristol University

Bristol was the first UK University to welcome women on an equal footing with men, and the first in the UK to establish a drama department. It is also environmentally-friendly: it was the first to become involved with the Green Impact Awards and is an accredited ‘Fairtrade University.’ Country-specific information is available on their website for international students.

The university is in downtown Bristol, a thriving yet relaxed town of cafes, bars, museums, and shops. Bristol is in Southwest England, and was a finalist for the European Capital of Culture in 2008.

7. University of Buckingham

The University of Buckingham is the UK’s only private university with a Royal Charter and only has 1000 students. However, roughly 90 nationalities are represented and more than half of the students are from overseas. There are five schools of teaching: Law, Humanities, Arts & Languages, Business, and Science & Medicine. The university spends more than most in the UK on IT, which builds a modern academic environment.Buckinghamshire is just over an hour northwest from London, in an attractive setting home to scores of native wildlife.

8. University of Nottingham

It’s not just for Robin Hood – the University of Nottingham is a major player in England’s international universities. The QS World University Rankings place Nottingham in the top 1 percent of universities in the world. Nottingham’s emphasis on internationalism in all areas of study makes it a great choice for foreign students. Besides its UK campus, Nottingham has campuses in Malaysia and China.

The UK campus is broken into four main campuses, and a free hopper bus connects them all. Nottingham is in the midlands, among rolling green fields and on the banks of the River Trent.

Now comes the hard part- deciding which school to choose. It is difficult to go wrong in a country that has been a leader in higher education for so long, so no matter where you end up you are guaranteed both a great education and a good time.