London has always been an attractive option for international students looking to study abroad as it is home to some of the top universities in the world. Here we look at what makes the capital one of the most desirable education destinations for international students.
According to the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, London remains the higher education capital of the world. London is home to four universities in the global top 40, more than any other city in the world. These universities are Imperial College (ranked 8th), the University College London (ranked 16th), the London School of Economics and Political Science (ranked 25th) and King’s College (ranked 36th).
London mayor, Sadiq Khan, has welcomed the rankings, stating that the city attracts over 100 000 international students from over 200 countries. Overall, the University of Oxford has claimed the top position followed closely by the University of Cambridge, making the UK one of the best options for international students.
London is the third best city in the world for students
The table ranked 125 cities across the globe based on a number of measures, including affordability, university rankings, student satisfaction, employer activity, desirability, and student mix, with Montreal and Paris taking first and second place respectively.
This ranking shows that even in the wake of Brexit, UK cities still hold esteem as some of the best in the world for education, with several making the top 50. Edinburgh sits at 18th place, up from 33rd, Manchester is up 13 places to 23rd, Glasgow is 34th, Coventry 39th, and Nottingham 43rd. Just outside the top 50 is Birmingham in 55th place and Newcastle in 56th place.
International students in the UK
Studying abroad may be one of the most beneficial experiences for a college student. Not only will students have the opportunity to live and study in a foreign city, but this exact reason makes international graduates more employable than native students. The international student market makes up at least £7 billion of the UK’s economy, while training and education exports bring in around £14 billion per year, with the potential to increase to as much as £26 billion by 2025.
Over 40% of postgraduates in the UK are international students, especially in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics sectors. Ruth from Finland, who is studying in Glasgow says of her choice to study in the UK, ‘I was eager to study abroad in the stimulating environment of a university. I wanted to challenge myself, to get out of my comfort zone, and thus uncover the best of myself.’
Younger universities are appealing to international students
As the market for international study broadens, more students are looking to universities to provide not only educational opportunities but life-changing experiences as well.
Times Higher Education has put together figures from the top 200 universities to offer information on which institution offers the most global higher education experience. The top five universities on the list were founded in the past 30 years, which could suggest that younger universities are as appealing to international students as older, more established red brick universities like Oxford or Cambridge. London is also one of the most represented cities on the list with 16 universities making the top 200. The American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates takes the top spot as the university with the most international students, with 84 percent of the student body made up of international students.
What are international students studying?
Deciding what career path to follow can be a little daunting while choosing an international university only adds to the pressure. That said, it may be helpful to find out exactly what the most popular majors are for international students and why they’re so in demand.
Business Studies – Business studies remains a popular option for both local and international students. Armed with a business studies degree, 85% of students find it relatively easy to land a job as the skills learned are transferable in just about every industry, including marketing, retail, advertising, sales and logistics, to name a few.
Engineering – The popularity of STEM jobs has increased in recent times, with courses that focus on science, mathematics, engineering, and technology in high demand for international students. Equipped with an engineering degree, students are likely to enjoy decent employability rates, while a study by Which? proved that students with a mechanical engineering degree can enjoy the sixth highest starting salary at around £25 000.
Economics – Economics is a diverse subject that can lead to big-money careers in banking, investment and insurance, as well as retail, manufacturing, and transport. A degree in economics does not only open students up to a rewarding career, but provides the skills to help with problem-solving, analysing, and communication. It is also ranked as having one of the highest starting salaries for graduates at just under £25 000.
Computer Science – Mark Zuckerberg studied Computer Science at Harvard, which could be a reason for the popularity of this major, or it could be the fact that a Computer Science degree can put students on the path to immeasurable career opportunities. This major teaches graduates high levels of technical skills while providing a very respectable employment rate.
Law – Being a lawyer is a dream shared by many individuals, making a law degree a popular option for students around the world. It is a strong, career-driven degree that can set a graduate on the path to becoming a lawyer, solicitor, barrister, or judge, amongst others. While, admittedly, law is a tough course and likely requires additional years of study and training, the rewards make it a top option for international students.
Social Sciences – A social science degree gives graduates countless, vast opportunities in the workplace. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa), almost 85% of students with a social sciences degree find employment within three years of graduating, making this a sought-after major for international students.
It is largely up to universities to come up with practical steps to keep international students interested and coming to the UK to study. According to Fresh Student Living, ‘Year after year we have seen an increase in the number of international students choosing to study in the UK, with students seeking high-quality education and a living experience to match. Purpose-built student accommodation offers international students (and their parents) peace of mind, all-inclusive rent, organised social events and, above all, an environment that supports their studies, where they can meet students from other cultures and make the most of their time in the UK.’