Thinking about studying in the UK? Consider a university outside London

Are you considering studying in the UK? Have you dreamt of living in a busy British city and studying at one of the top universities? And do you want to be surrounded by great culture, energy and creativity?

If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, you may have assumed that the best place to try to study is at a London university.

However, London is as representative of the whole of the UK as New York is to the United States. Before just rushing to apply to a London university, make sure you know all of the facts and what your alternative options are.

Education policy differs across the UK

The United Kingdom is made up of four very different countries – England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland – each with different education policies, fees and opportunities.

In Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland the education system is devolved from central government. This means that the separate parliaments in these countries can decide their own fees and entrance requirements for international students.

Be sure to research these differences before applying.

Differences in living costs

If your heart is set on studying in London, make sure you can afford to live in the capital city before applying. It is known that London is one of the most expensive cities in the world to live. Average rent for a double bedroom in London is £692 per month, compared with £355 in Cardiff, £384 in Glasgow and £290 in Belfast (source: Also, don’t forget to factor in the cost of transport around London, and the higher cost of living in general.

So although London may seem like the most exciting, cosmopolitan university experience, in reality it can be expensive and therefore sometimes constraining and stressful.

But aren’t London universities the best?

According to the UK 2017 University League tables, Cambridge and Oxford were at the very top, followed by the London School of Economics and Imperial College London. No real surprises there.

But then you may be intrigued by the universities that came 5th to 9th. These were: St Andrews (Scotland), Durham (North England), Loughborough (East Midlands), Warwick (West Midlands) and Lancaster (NW England).

All of these universities are outside London, and each has their own individual character, history and culture.

Which university is best for my subject?

Make sure you check that the university you are interested in is one of the best for your chosen subject.

For example, it might not be a good idea to study history at Westminster University, just because you want to live in London; it ranked 90th in the country for teaching this subject.

Instead, you would probably get much better teaching, support and research opportunities (not to mention cheaper rent) at Exeter University, which ranked 6th in the UK league tables for history. You can find out course rankings on The Complete University Guide website and filter your search by subject. You may be surprised by some of the results. For example, St Andrews is the best university to study Business Management, Glasgow comes in at 4th for Law, Cardiff is 3rd for Architecture and Edinburgh is 4th for Medicine.

Factors to consider

All in all, many factors should be considered when choosing a university. You may also want to think about cultural diversity across the UK, or where there are good job prospects after you have graduated.

If you are still struggling with where to choose, you could consider finding a university entrance coach from a website like The Tutor Pages.

Tags: Studying in the UK, studying outside of London, international students,