Higher education in the United Kingdom is provided by universities and colleges, both public and private. Universities before 1998 were funded mainly by the national government but have become increasingly reliant on student fees and private capital. The UK is an extremely popular destination for international students and was the second most popular destination in the world for international students in 2016. There were 458,490 international students in the UK in 2017-2018, comprising 19.6% of the total student population. In 2017-2018, China, India, the US, Hong Kong and Malaysia were the five countries that sent the most international students to the UK. International student numbers are highest in the following subjects: business and administrative studies, engineering and technology, and social studies.
Bachelor’s degrees in the United Kingdom usually last for three to four years, Master’s degrees take between one to two years, and PhD degrees take between three to four years. Undergraduate applications to almost all universities in the UK are managed by the Universities and College Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are usually made during the final year of secondary school, prior to receiving final examination results, as schools usually provide predicted grades. Around half of British universities offer at least one course that requires an additional entrance examination and these include medicine and dentistry courses, as well as law and mathematics. Some courses also include an interview requirement.
Tuition fees were introduced in 1998, were raised to £3,000 a year in 2006 and had passed £9,000 a year in England by 2012. Subsidised student loans are available and most universities offer scholarships and grants. Nearly all universities in England charge the maximum tuition fees on all courses. Tuition fees in other parts of the UK vary, in Scotland for example, students under the age of 25 do not pay tuition fees. Fees for non-EU international students vary and international students are advised to contact their institution of choice for more information.
Information for International Students
International students from EU countries currently do not need a visa to study in the UK. International students from other countries may need to apply for a Tier 4 student visa and will need to meet a number of eligibility requirements. These include an offer from a British institution and proof of English language proficiency. International students are advised to consult the following website for more information: https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/student-visas.