Interesting facts about studying in the UK – some may surprise you!

The UK might only be comparatively small, but there’s an awful lot going on! With over 100 universities, and many additional colleges offering higher education courses, we continue to attract student talent from all corners of the world. The facts listed here are designed to help you get to know a little more about student life in the UK and, as with everything we share, please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions. We’d be happy to provide more advice on studying in the UK right here on the IEC Abroad blog. Let the facts commence!

We rank well

There are 11 UK universities in the top 100 world university rankings (2014/15). Considering we rank at number 80 for country size (out of 249 countries), we’re quite proud to have so many fantastic institutions on our small island!

We boast some of the oldest institutions

Our own Oxford University is claimed to be the oldest university in the English speaking world (The University of Bologna, Italy, is the oldest in Europe). While exact dates aren’t known, teaching took place at Oxford from 1096. The University of Cambridge was established in 1209 and chartered in 1231, making it the 4th oldest university in the world.

Which of our cities are the cheapest?

In 2014, Natwest ranked Glasgow as the most economical place to study in the UK. This was based on the cost of everyday essentials. Manchester ranked at number 7, whereas London, is a notoriously expensive capital city, ranked at number 6!

Politics and tuition fees

In 2012, the government allowed universities to increase the tuition fees paid by home students. Despite protests, more than half of UK universities decided to increase their fees to the new amount – £9,000 per year. These fees may fall as it is currently a topic of political debate amongst the Labour party.

Best for extra-curricular activities

The University of Sheffield regularly wins the award for ‘best student union’ in the UK. Over the years, the student union nightclub venue has attracted a number of top DJs and music artists.

Who is our best graduate employer?

In 2013/14 PWC took the number 1 position in The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers’ list. PWC dominate the accountancy and professional services sector and hire 1,200 graduates each year. The companies listed have been ranked according to the opportunities graduates believe they offer.

How can students save money in the UK?

If you’re a student in the UK, then you can get discounts on a range of services/products. Our favourites are the NUS Extra card (which allow you to save on eating out and entertainment) and the Young Person’s Railcard, which allows you to save 1/3 on rail travel.

How are our degrees graded?

In the UK, most students graduate with a 2.1-degree classification. This has remained the case over the past 10 years. A first-class degree is the best you can achieve followed by an upper second class (2.1) and then lower second class (2.2). Below this is a third class honours/pass degree. Most top graduate employers will ask for at least an upper second class degree.

Getting to know everyone

‘Freshers’ week is the term used to describe the first week at a British university. It isn’t necessarily a single week, and new students may be referred to as ‘freshers’ for the whole of their first year! The freshers’ period is usually a time for socialising heavily and getting to know your way around your university. There will usually be lots of events held at your student union and people are generally very friendly.

Working students

In the UK, universities usually allow their students to work up to 20 hours per week during term time. For some courses, this might not always be possible though, so students tend to stick to part-time jobs which allow them to work flexibly. In the UK, the current minimum wage is £5.13 for people aged between 18-20, and £6.50 for those aged 21 and above.