What makes UK universities so popular?

The UK education system has a longstanding history of being one of the best and most popular in the world. Its higher education institutions have a history that spans the centuries, its university standards are highly regarded and it attracts many of the top academics in the world to teach. 

UK universities have been the basis for higher education standards around the world for a long time, and post pandemic it seems applications are set to spike even further, with the number of applicants is expected to rise from around 700,000 a year to more than a million in the next four years according to a Ucas report

Clare Marchant, chief executive of Ucas, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme the rise was a “testament to the success of UK higher education”. She continued to say: “Demand from 18-year-olds is rising, there’s a demographic increase and international attractiveness.”

So what makes UK universities so popular?

UK universities have a respected heritage 

The history of education in the UK is rich and illustrious. Oxford and Cambridge take their place among the world’s oldest universities, while Barts and St Thomas’s were amongst the first to provide medical teachings in England. 

There is evidence that there was teaching at the site of the University of Oxford as far back as 1096, making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second-oldest university in continuous operation. Meanwhile, the University of Cambridge was founded in 1209 and granted a royal charter by Henry III in 1231. Both institutions have since played a significant role in the history of the UK, and that’s just those two!

  • University College London dates back to 1830
  • University of Bristol has roots going back to 1876
  • In Scotland, the University of St Andrews dates to 1413

They attract the top academics in the world

This year the University of Oxford retained its top spot in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, for sixth consecutive year. Cambridge also appeared amongst the top universities, at number six. It’s not the only British university to make the cut. 

One of the reasons for this is that not only do UK universities attract students from around the world – they also attract the top academics as well. The quality of teaching at UK universities is one of its greatest assets. As our own team will tell you from their Oxbridge experiences, one of the greatest things about attending is the opportunity to learn from people who are the best in their field.

They provide revolutionary teaching styles

The style of teaching also sets UK universities apart, especially those in the Russell Group, which represents leading UK universities. While they continuously look at ways to improve learning in keeping with the modern age, one of the staples of learning, particularly at Oxbridge, is what has set its universities apart across the ages. The supervision system provides very intimate learning sessions and intense discussion between teachers and small groups of classmates. It’s a chance to develop thoughts, ideas, confidence and ways of presenting yourself. 

Our Business Development Associate, Sarah, said: 

“Cambridge has trained me to think twice before endorsing information presented as facts, and it has shown me that it is not just acceptable but essential to admit when you are unsure about something. Indeed, I realised over time that, more often than not, the moment where you admit ignorance becomes the starting point for much more exciting questions and debates!” 

Some of the best scholarship programs

The cost of education is a big problem for many students, but the UK has some of the best-known scholarship opportunities for both domestic and international students in the world. For example: 

  • Chevening Scholarships: Offered by the UK government to individuals with impressive academic results who demonstrate high leadership potential. 
  • Commonwealth Scholarships: Offered each year to students coming from low and middle-income Commonwealth countries.
  • Royal Society Grants: Which offers various types of grants and awards in science subjects.
  • Individual university scholarships: Individual universities also offer their own scholarship programmes for promising students.
  • The Rhodes Scholarships: For international students at the University of Oxford are particularly famous. 

The variety of courses available

The variety of courses available at different UK universities also makes it an appealing prospect for applicants. As a case in point, in her aforementioned BBC interview, Clare Marchant said there’s been: “more attraction to courses which have an obvious career path”, such as law, nursing, computing and teaching. In fact, according to Ucas, applications for nursing have risen by 32% in the last year.

While this is by no means an exhaustive list of the reasons that UK universities remain incredibly respected and popular around the world, it does give you an idea of the quality of education you can expect. If you would like to talk about which university might be best for you, or seek university application mentoring, contact CamVision for more information.