Best Colleges In England

Last Updated on May 25, 2024 by Team College Learners

The United Kingdom is home to some of the most prestigious universities in the world, making it a top destination for international students seeking a quality education. Among the top choices for international students are the University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, Imperial College London, UCL, University of Edinburgh, University of Manchester, King’s College of London, and London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). These universities are known for their academic excellence, diverse student population, and world-class faculty.

To be admitted to one of these top universities in the UK, international students must meet certain admission requirements. Generally, international students must have a strong academic background, including high grades in relevant subjects, a competitive score on English proficiency exams such as IELTS or TOEFL, and letters of recommendation from teachers or mentors. Some universities may also require students to submit a personal statement or essay explaining their academic interests and career goals.

The admission process for international students at these universities typically involves submitting an online application through the university’s admissions portal, providing academic transcripts and certificates, submitting English proficiency test scores, and possibly attending an interview. It is important for international students to familiarize themselves with the specific admission requirements and deadlines for each university they are applying to in order to increase their chances of acceptance.

Top 10 Best Colleges in England

Name of the College                                                               QS WUR Rankings 2023
University of Oxford                                                                 #4
University of Cambridge                                                                  #2
University College London                                                              #8
Imperial College London                                                                 #6
The University of Manchester                                                          #28
King’s College London                                                                    #37
The London School of Economics and Political Science                #56
The University of Warwick                                                                #173
Durham University                                                                            #92

University of Oxford

Why is Oxford University so famous? Popularly recognised as the oldest university in the English-speaking world, the University of Oxford has alumni like Stephan Hawking, Tim Berners-Lee, Bill Clinton, Oscar Wilde, Kate Beckinsale, Manmohan Singh, C S Lewis, to name a few. International students make up almost 43% of the total student body at Oxford. The university, including colleges in England and Oxford University Press, is the largest employer in Oxfordshire. It is among the top 10 universities globally offering courses in Life Sciences, Physical Sciences, Social Sciences and Art and Humanities. In a youthful and cosmopolitan city like Oxford, there are historic and iconic buildings like Ashmolean Museum, Bodleian Libraries, etc. and students can also participate in extracurricular activities. However, the university’s particular strength lies in Sciences and Medicine.

University of Cambridge

Cambridge can help you find a way to a better tomorrow, but do you have the time? The University of Cambridge aims to contribute to the world through the pursuit of education, learning and research at the leading global levels of excellence. One of the oldest colleges in England established in 1209, has notable graduates like Isaac Newton, Tom Hiddleston, Charles Darwin, John Oliver, Hugh Laurie, Jane Goodall and Prince Charles. The university is home to nearly 100 libraries with more than 15 million books, a botanical garden, and art, scientific and cultural museums. Also, the Cambridge University Press has more than 50 offices worldwide producing up to 45,000 titles. Besides, international students can enjoy chill coffee shops like Indigo Café and fun restaurants like The Bakers Arms around the campus.

University College London

UK’s global university, University College London is a unique and special place to study. When looking for the ranked colleges in England, UCL is a leading multidisciplinary university with more than 42,000 students from nearly 150 different countries. It offers several programmes in Arts and Humanities, Brain Sciences Engineering, Life Sciences, Built Environment, Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Education, etc. Imagine going to the very school where Mahatma Gandhi, Alexander Graham Bell, Chris Martin, Christopher Nola and Ricky Gervais once studied. UCL has a diverse community of students and faculties creating a suitable environment to think differently through a progressive approach to teaching and research. 

Imperial College London

With tons of opportunities for the UK and international students, Imperial College London aims to impart excellence in the fields of Engineering, Science, Medicine and Business. Who wouldn’t want to join a place where Marc Garneau, Alexander Fleming, HG Wells and Rajiv Gandhi once walked the halls. It is one of the public research colleges in England that exposes students to the wider world through the biggest scientific breakthroughs. Moreover, students get to witness movie stars and celebs on the red carpet outside the Albert Hall. Talking about Imperial education, learning from leading experts and becoming a part of a global community, students are expected to explore the latest trends in their subject area.

The University of Manchester

If you are aspiring to study in UK in one of the leading institutions of the country, then The University of Manchester offers dynamic courses in Life Sciences, Medical and Human Sciences, Humanities and Engineering and Physical Sciences. When it comes to academics, the university hasn’t missed the mark besides providing a lower cost of living in comparison to other colleges in England. With the reputation of having the largest alumni network of any campus-based university in the UK, Manchester bears a fair share of giving the world legendary actors and personalities like Benedict Cumberbatch, Brian Cox, Jack Whitehall, Dan Howell, Parineeti Chopra and many others. The place is packed with year-round festivals, coffee shops, museums, cheap river taxis and luscious garden. Manchester is calling you to make a difference with the world’s leading educational infrastructure. 

King’s College London

The college is not just a place for quality education but the abode for innovators, trainers and leaders. King’s College London has immensely helped people across the globe to make a cultural and socio-economic change. Pioneering in research in Business, Natural and Mathematical Sciences, Nursing, Psychology, Social Science and Public Policy, Law, etc, the college boasts one of the finest teaching faculties. King’s has a community of nearly 30,000 students from more than 150 countries worldwide and shares teaching resources with British Library, National Gallery, Southbank Centre, Shakespeare’s Globe, etc. to enhance students’ experience. Ranked among the top colleges in England, the college has some notable alumni like Sarojini Naidu, Virginia Woolf, Anthony Hopkins, Thomas Hardy and Arthur C Clarke.

The London School of Economics and Political Science

Want to enrol in one of the most foremost Social Science colleges in England and the world? LSE has 70%, the highest proportion of international students. Besides offering courses in Law, Economics, History, Politics and Sociology and Anthropology, the London School of Economics and Political Science expose students to an exciting, vibrant and colourful cityscape. Its compact campus is full of facilities and services to ensure that you make the most out of your time. The school has a truly international approach to intellectual discovery and academic life which cannot be matched elsewhere in the world. Leading figures from all walks of life including Nancy Pelosi, Christine Lagarde, Bill Gates, Amartya Sen, Helen Clark and George Soros have spoken here.

University of Bristol

Adding on to your bucket list for overseas education, University of Bristol offers both undergraduate and graduate programs in Arts, Law, Engineering, Science, Life Sciences, Science and Health Sciences. With one of the highest admission qualifications amongst several colleges in England, the university is committed to making a positive impact through inspiring social, political and cultural change. Bristol is a vibrant community with a relaxed vibe, a blooming eco-culture, infinite historic charm and a dynamic centre for creativity. Right from innovations in areas ranging from Nanotechnology to cot death prevention, the place is at the cutting edge of global research. The University of Bristol has a remarkable list of alumni that includes Paul Dirac, Simon Pegg, Sarah Kane, Will Hutton, Mike Bennett, Derren Brown and James Blunt.

The University of Warwick

According to The Guardian 2021 league table, The University of Warwick is ranked 8th in the UK. If you choose to study at Warwick, you choose to join the family of world-leading colleges in England that will lead to strong academic expertise through teaching and research excellence. Warwick offers academic programs in Arts, Social Science, Science and Medicine. Having one of the largest student unions in the UK, the university has different student societies for a wide range of interests. Different events like music concerts as well as visits from guest speakers are held, making the university the best place in terms of recreation. 

Durham University

Ranked consistently as one of the world’s leading colleges in England, Durham University can offer a pathway to a successful career in various fields. The university is popular for courses like Theology, divinity and religious studies, Archaeology, and Geography. Catering to students from all over the world, the university is a brand name for hosting a great number of international students. With multi-million pound infrastructure, the university is reputed for its exhaustive courses and higher employability. Being the third oldest university after Oxford and Cambridge in the UK, it has a vast alumni network which involves some renowned personalities like Chris Hollins, Andrew Strauss, Anne Brontë. 

A number of scholarships and options for financial aid are offered to help international students be a part of the leading universities in the UK.

Documents Required

UG Courses

Following is the list of documents required for UG courses to study in UK:

  • Application form
  • Academic Transcripts for 10th and 12th class
  • English language test scores – IELTS AcademicTOEFL iBT, C1 Advanced, PTE Academic or Duolingo 
  • Medium of Instruction Certificate (This certificate is accepted in rare cases instead of English scores)
  • Other entrance exams scores like LNAT Exam (for law), Mathematics Admissions Test or MAT (for bachelors in sciences & engineering), BioMedical Admissions Test  or BMAT (for medical, biomedical, and dentistry program) and SAT etc
  • Birth certificate 
  • Passport
  • Reference letters, if required 
  • Copies of degree/diploma certificates, if applicable
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)/Resume

PG Courses

Following is the list of documents required for PG courses to study in UK:

  • Application form
  • Academic Transcripts for 10th, 12th class, and bachelor’s degree
  • English language test scores – IELTS Academic, TOEFL iBT, C1 Advanced, PTE Academic or Duolingo 
  • Medium of Instruction Certificate (This certificate is accepted in rare cases instead of English scores)
  • Other entrance exam scores like Graduate Medical School Admissions Test (GAMSAT Exam), GRE, GMAT, 
  • Birth certificate 
  • Passport
  • Reference letters, if required 
  • Copies of degree/diploma certificates, if applicable
  • Statement of Purpose
  • Curriculum Vitae (CV)/Resume
  • Research proposal/ Any Portfolio (for specific courses)

UK Admission Process

International students applying to UK universities must follow a well-researched guide before starting their application process:

Step-1: Shortlist Courses and Universities

The primary step in the application process is to shortlist courses and universities according to your academic profile and preference. Students can shortlist courses and universities through AI-Course Finder and generate a list of universities where they are most likely to get through and plan their application process.

Step-2: Know Your Deadlines

The next step is to know the exact deadlines of universities and colleges in the UK you are planning to apply to. International students have to take the application process well in advance (one year to 6 months before the actual deadline). This ensures that students can fulfill all the college requirements such as SOP, letters of recommendation, English proficiency tests, funding/scholarship options, and accommodation.

Step-3: Take Entrance Tests

The third step in the application process for UK universities requires students to take tests like IELTS, TOEFL, PTE, or GRE/GMAT/LNAT/BMAT/MAT (in some courses). In some universities, students can be given submit scores for SAT or ACT exams. A new addition to English proficiency tests is the Duolingo Test which allows students to appear for the exam from the comfort of their homes and is accepted across the world.

Step-4:  Compile Your Documents

The next step is to compile all the required documents and test scores for the application process. This means students should start writing their SOPs, getting letters of recommendation from teachers and supervisors, and arranging their financial statements along with other documents like tests scorecards.

Step-5: Get Started with Your Application

Once you have all the documents in place, students can start the application process either directly or through UCAS. Students applying to UK universities that accept direct applications can start by applying through the official university website. They have to select the courses, pay the application fees and start the online application process. 


Can one work part-time while studying in UK?

As an Indian student, you can work part-time while pursuing a degree in the UK. While you study in UK, you can work up to 20 hours a week during the duration of your semester or term and work full time during the duration of your university break. 

Which is the best course in UK?

The universities in the UK are known for providing quality education through their diverse curriculum, modern infrastructure, and academically brilliant faculty. The most popular courses to study in UK are:
1. Natural Sciences
2. Medicine
3. Business
4. Law
5. Engineering and Technology
6. Arts
7. Media and Communication

Is it possible to study in UK without IELTS?

Yes, it is possible for you to study in UK without IELTS! The alternatives to IELTS might include online interviews held by the university or a major in English and high school certification. These might not be applicable to all universities but certain universities do offer this provision. Some of the universities that provide this route include the University of East Anglia, University of Bristol, London Southbank University, and Brunel University.

Universities in UK

Pursuing higher education in the UK is a lucrative prospect for many international students. UK universities bring plenty of opportunities with their global outreach and high educational standards. Known for its basic and applied research in the STEM fields, UK also offers degree courses for a shorter duration, making it cheaper and more feasible for international students.

To study in the UK, an international student must choose a course and university well in advance. Factors such as ranking, popularity, expenses, etc., of the university/course plays an important role.

The average salary for UK graduates is nearly £ 23,000. Students can also work part-time during their studies for up to 20 hours a week. The minimum wage for students above 21 is £ 6.7 per hour.

China, Hong Kong, India, and Malaysia are some countries from which more than 50% of the UK’s international student population is derived. With the UK allowing a 2 year stay-back post study to international students from 2021, the percentage is only going to go up.

UK is the second most preferred destination among international students after the US. Almost 20 % of the student population in the UK comprises of International Students.

International students who want to study in the UK have more than 200 universities and colleges that offer more than a thousand unique courses for its students to choose from.

Top Universities in the UK

As per the QS World University Rankings 2020, 4 out of the top 10 universities in the world are from the United Kingdom and a total of 17 in the top 100. London, the capital city of England alone is home to 4 universities in the top 50 of the world.

Name of the UniversityQS World RankingLocation
University of Oxford4Oxford, England
University of Cambridge7Cambridge, England
University College London8London, England
Imperial College London9London, England
The University of Edinburgh20Scotland
The University of Manchester27Manchester, England
King’s College London33London, England
London School of Economics and Political Science44London, England
University of Bristol49Bristol, England
The University of Warwick62Coventry, England
University of Glasgow67Scotland
Durham University78Durham, England
University of Sheffield78England
University of Birmingham81England
University of Leeds93Yorkshire, England
University of Southampton97England
University of St Andrews100Scotland

Top UK Universities with Cheapest Tuition Fees for International Students

Studying in the UK can be quite expensive, International students need around 12,000 GBP as living cost for a year, that too if they are not studying in London.

To help international students with a budget and who are looking for more affordable options, here are the top 10 cheapest UK universities for International Students, based on the Reddin survey conducted by The Complete University Guide.

UniversityAnnual Tuition Fees for International Students
Coventry University9000-12,600 GBP approx
Royal Agricultural University10,000 GBP approx
University of Suffolk10,800 GBP approx
University of Cumbria10,500 GBP approx
The University of the West of Scotland10,600 GBP approx
University of Sunderland10,500 GBP approx
Ravensbourne University London10,800-13,500 GBP approx
Buckinghamshire New University11,000 GBP approx
Plymouth Marjon University
University of Wales Trinity Saint David

These fees are still high, but International students can avail of various scholarships, bursaries, and financial aid available to study in the UK.

UK Universities with the most International Students

The United Kingdom is home to more than 4.5 lakh International Students at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Based on the statistics available at the HESA website for the year 2017-2018, the total number of international students studying in the UK was 458,490, out of which 17,990 were enrolled in the University College London alone.

Here is the list of top ten universities/colleges with the most International students

InstitutionTotal number of international students (2017-18)
University College London17,990
The University of Manchester13,750
The University of Edinburgh12,025
Coventry University11,285
King’s College London11,175
Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine9,560
University of the Arts, London9,175
The University of Warwick8,990
The University of Sheffield8,965
The University of Glasgow8,815

Courses in the UK for International Students

The United Kingdom and its universities are renowned for top-class education, high-quality teaching and research, and academic training. UK universities offer academic excellence and quality with thousands of courses available for international students and help them become an expert in the field of study. Courses done in the UK are accredited all over the world.

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International students can choose from a variety of different undergraduate and graduate courses, and can also combine their courses to make a degree program that suits their needs and interests.

Courses in the UK for International students in higher education qualifications include:

  • Foundation degrees
  • Diplomas
  • Bachelor degrees
  • Post-graduate degrees
  • Doctorate degrees

Given below are some of the top courses offered at the various universities and colleges in the UK for the International students:

Agricultural SciencesArts and HumanitiesBiology and Biochemistry
ChemistryClinical MedicineComputer Science
Economics and BusinessEngineeringEnvironment/Ecology
GeosciencesImmunologyMaterials Science
MathematicsMicrobiologyMolecular biology and Genetics
Neuroscience and BehaviourPharmacology and ToxicologyPhysics
Plant and Animal SciencePsychiatry/PsychologySocial Sciences and Public Health
Space ScienceManagementLaw

Popular UK Courses among International Students

  1. Business and Management

Business and Management courses in the UK are the most popular among international students. As of 2017-18, around 1.2 lakhs international students were enrolled in the business and management courses offered by the universities and colleges in the UK.

Most of the B&M programs in the UK offer placements with globally recognized companies. Top Universities in the UK for Business and Management courses:

Name of the UniversityLocation
University of OxfordOxford, England
University of St. AndrewsSt. Andrews, Scotland
University of WarwickCoventry, England
  1. Engineering and Technology

Engineering and technology courses are the second most sought in the UK by international students. UK Engineering and Technology schools are amongst the best in the world. Their study programs are highly research-based aiming to equip students to understand the basic core of the subject and also help them in developing advanced application knowledge. Top 3 universities in the UK for Engineering and Technology.

Name of the UniversityLocation
University of BristolBristol, England
University of CambridgeCambridge, England
Imperial College LondonLondon, England
  1. Social Studies

Universities in the Uk offers a diverse range of subjects included within social studies, as it also includes economics and politics, alongside courses that lead to a professional qualification in social work. Around 42 international students are currently enrolled in various social studies courses offered in the UK.

Name of the UniversityLocation
University of OxfordOxford, England
University of GlasgowGlasgow, Scotland
University of LeedsYorkshire, England
  1. Law

Universities in the UK are among the oldest universities that offer law courses, due to this long and rich tradition, UK law degrees have become very popular and highly competitive for international students.

Name of the UniversityLocation
University of OxfordOxford, England
University of CambridgeCambridge, England
University of DundeeDundee, Scotland
  1. Economics

The United Kingdom is one of the leading and oldest economic centers in the world, students from all over the world are interested to study Economics from the leading economy capital of the world. Studying Economics in the UK also provides International students to have practical experience through various internships and work classes. Top Universities in the UK for Economics.

Name of the InstituteLocation
University of OxfordOxford, England
University of CambridgeCambridge, England
University College LondonLondon, England
  1. Computer Science

Around 20 thousand International students are currently studying Computer Science courses in the UK. UK universities have been instrumental in the development of computing and continue to conduct research for the world’s top companies. Studying Computer Science in the UK gives International students the core skills required to develop their careers in the booming field of Computer Science. These three universities are most sought by International students for Computer Science courses in the UK.

Name of the InstituteLocation
University of CambridgeCambridge, England
University of St. AndrewsSt. Andrews, Scotland
University of OxfordOxford, England

How To Choose the Best UK University as an International Student?

Explore the UK universities rankings

  • Learn in detail about the universities individually.
  • Compare the rankings of the universities by each other by using Times Higher Education World University Rankings and subject rankings.
  • Compare the universities by considering the rankings of the best courses to study at university

Research funding opportunities

  • Learn about the eligibility criteria for various scholarships in the UK.
  • Research about the application deadlines in advance.
  • Find scholarships based on your intended course of study from the British Council’s Education UK website.

Choose a location

  • Select a university by considering the location of living, living costs, culture, weather, etc.
  • Nottingham is one of the most affordable cities in the UK with student-friendly cafes.
  • In London, International students will experience the hustle-bustle of the huge metropolis but will have to pay high rents.
  • Live in Brighton, Bournemouth or Cardiff or Southampton if you wish to live by the sea.

Contact and visit universities

Learn about student life

  • Universities in the UK cater to all types of extracurricular activities for international students.
  • Societies and recreational activities can be last but not the least option to decide the best one out of the shortlisted universities to study in the UK.

Preparation for Tests and Application

  • Prepare for standardized tests like GMAT, GRE, UKCAT, TOEFL or IELTS.
  • Register before the test dates, and crack the exam.
  • Prepare documents including reference letter, SOP and essays.
  • Apply before the deadline.

After the student has decided on the course and the university they want to study in, he/she is advised to start applying to the universities in the UK at least a year before.

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