11 Reasons to Study Abroad in the UK

The UK is one of the world's most popular destinations for international students. Check out these 11 reasons why you should consider studying there.
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  • Free healthcare and subsidized tuition can make the UK a cheaper study abroad option.
  • London and other UK cities have thriving cultural scenes and large student populations.
  • Students studying in the UK have easy access to the rest of Europe.

Looking to study abroad during your college career? Whether you're majoring in the arts or sciences, studying abroad can be an enticing option. But where should you go?

While the world is literally at your fingertips, one of the most popular destinations for students who wish to study abroad remains the UK. With no language barrier for learners from other English-speaking countries, prestigious institutions, a lively student culture, and easy access to the rest of Europe, there are plenty of reasons why the UK is a great place to study abroad.

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1. You'll Receive a High-Quality Education

In the United Kingdom, you'll have access to some of the best universities in the world. These include world-famous institutions like Oxford, Cambridge, and the prestigious Russell Group, which includes universities from London to Belfast. Many UK schools offer students a high-quality education and employ top professors in a broad range of fields.

The UK has something to offer every student, no matter your major. Learners may study the sciences at Imperial College London or English at the University of Edinburgh in a UNESCO City of Literature. UK universities offer opportunities to learn from the best, making them an attractive option for international students.

2. You Get to Study in a Culturally Diverse Environment

With a population of over 67 million, the United Kingdom is a nation of variety. Students who study in the UK can take advantage of the nation's rich cultural diversity.

UK residents of all backgrounds have contributed to the country's food culture, including the iconic fish and chips and the "national dish" of chicken tikka masala. The arts and cultural institutions in London and other large cities in the country are some of the best in the world.

3. The UK Is Among the Cheaper Destinations to Study Abroad

College is expensive, but studying abroad in the UK can be more affordable than studying in the U.S. In the United Kingdom, all accredited universities receive subsidies from the government to keep their tuition costs below a certain cap. There's also a cap — albeit higher — on what universities may charge international students.

Keep in mind that where you study in the UK can also impact costs. The cost of living in big cities like London is higher than in more rural areas.

4. You Can Easily Travel Between the UK and the Rest of Europe

International students studying in the UK can readily access the beaches of Barcelona or museums and cafes in Prague. With major airports in Manchester and London, the rest of Europe is a short plane ride away.

High-speed rail is a good option for those who want to avoid the hassle of airport security. Travelers can take a train through the English Channel Tunnel (the "chunnel") and arrive in Paris or Amsterdam in a matter of hours. Traveling within Great Britain is also easy, with high-speed rail connecting England, Wales, and Scotland.

5. You Can Study at Some of the World's Top Universities

Students who dream of going to Harvard or Yale may also consider studying in the UK. The country is home to institutions that inspired the founding of the American Ivy League. Both located in the UK, Oxford and Cambridge are two of the oldest and most prestigious universities in the world.

Even if you don't want to pursue an entire degree in the UK, a study abroad program can be a great opportunity to experience one of these top-ranked universities. Many U.S. schools have study abroad programs that allow students to spend a semester in the UK at an "Oxbridge" college.

Contact the study abroad office at your institution to discover if your school is among them.

6. You'll Be Part of a Thriving Student Population

Studying internationally can seem like a daunting experience, but in the UK, you'll be in good company. According to the UK Parliament House of Commons Library, over 538,000 international students studied at the country's universities during the 2019-20 academic year.

Students from all over the world travel to the United Kingdom to study. India, China, and the United States are among the countries that send the most students to the UK.

7. You Can Explore Tons of Iconic Historical Locations

Students in the UK can explore the nation's history, which dates back thousands of years. In addition to Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, students can visit older historical landmarks. The Tower of London is over 900 years old, and Stonehenge in Salisbury, Scotland, dates back even further to prehistoric times.

Learners interested in history can also visit some of the UK's many museums, including the British Museum, the Natural History Museum, and the Victoria and Albert Museum.

8. You Get to Enjoy Free Healthcare

No travel coverage on your health insurance plan? No problem. The UK's National Health Service (NHS) provides free coverage for everyone in the UK — including students from abroad.

You'll have to pay a small surcharge when you apply for a visa, and there may be low fees when you fill prescriptions or seek certain medical services. Overall, though, healthcare is much less expensive for students in the UK than in the U.S.

9. You Won't Have to Hurdle a Major Language Barrier

Many students are reluctant to explore study abroad options because they don't know a second language. In the UK, language isn't a barrier for American students — the United Kingdom is the oldest English-speaking nation on Earth.

The lack of a language barrier can be a relief for many U.S. students when it comes to understanding lessons. Americans can also travel easily within the country and make friends. However, people also speak Welsh in Wales, Scottish Gaelic in Scotland, and Irish in Northern Ireland.

10. You Can Enjoy Thriving Nightlife and Theater Scenes

Do you love the arts? If so, studying abroad in London or the UK more generally may be right for you. London's West End is a world-famous theater district. Camden Town, another London district, is the birthplace of punk music.

The rest of the UK also has plenty to offer. You can enjoy the famous music scene in Glasgow, the world's largest arts festival held yearly in Edinburgh, and the clubs and stages of Liverpool. If you are in the mood for Italian opera or want to dance in the nightclubs of Berlin, the rest of Europe is only a short flight away.

11. There Are Many High-Paying Work Opportunities

One advantage to studying in the UK is that your student visa allows you to work up to 20 hours per week during the term. There are many opportunities to apply for jobs and internships.

As a global capital of business and finance, London is a great city for job-seekers. Across the UK, students can find lucrative work in many sectors, including food service and tech.

Furthermore, the UK's new post-study work visa allows international graduates of UK universities to stay in the country for two years after graduation to pursue long-term employment.

Frequently Asked Questions About Studying Abroad in the UK

How much does it cost to study abroad in the UK?

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Studying abroad in the UK can cost about the same or slightly less than studying at an equivalent American institution. However, additional expenses, including travel and visa fees, can impact costs. Depending on your location, you may also have to budget extra money for rent and other living expenses.

Where should I study abroad in the UK?

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There are high-quality institutions across the UK. You may want to study at Oxford or Cambridge, the oldest and most prestigious UK universities, or a London institution, to take advantage of life in the country's largest city.

If you're interested in participating in a shorter-term study abroad program while completing a degree at an American school, check if your home institution partners with any UK schools.

What are the requirements to study abroad in the UK?

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If you already attend an American university, you should explore your current institution's study abroad options and determine whether you meet the academic requirements. If you want to study abroad in the UK to complete a full degree, you can apply directly to the institutions you're interested in.

In either case, you'll need to apply for a student visa from the UK government, which can cost several hundred dollars and take up to eight weeks to process.

Feature Image: burcintuncer / E+ / Getty Images

BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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