England is a travel hub with rail, bus, and airport links to the world and offers history, architecture, culture, cities, and scenery all in a small country, making it a popular destination for international and study abroad students. Choosing the right university in England can be challenging, so we selected some of the best universities in England to study abroad based on factors like programs, class sizes, and proximity to cities.
The universities are not ranked in order and are intended to inspire possibilities based on eight popular categories. Tuition prices are for the 2023 academic year and are subject to change, and the universities were chosen based on important factors to study abroad and international students, such as rankings, popularity, program quality, and social scenes.
How much does it cost to study abroad in England?
The cost of studying abroad in England can vary greatly depending on the type of program you choose, the university you study at, as well as the personal expenses you choose, like eating out, shopping, and going to the bars. However, in general, international students can expect to pay tuition fees ranging from around $18,000 to $62,000 per year.
How to choose a university in England
Now comes the hard part -- deciding which university in England to choose!. England has been a leader in higher education for so long, so no matter where you decide to take your studies, you are guaranteed both an excellent education and a good time. The best university in England for you personally is the one that's going to best match your career and lifestyle goals.
Keep the following in mind when choosing a university in England:
- Choose between living in a large city like London or a small town like Lancashire
- Determine if your university has a partnership or exchange program with universities in England
- If you’re pursuing an entire degree in England, including a graduate-level degree, apply directly with your universities of choice
- Give yourself plenty of time to navigate the visa process by applying early
- Be sure to get ahead on your scholarship applications, which typically have earlier deadlines than applying for enrollment
- Leverage the centralized system for applying to various universities through a single process
- Remember, in the UK Bachelor’s degree are typically a 3-year program, masters can be finished in a year and Ph.D.’s take 3-5 years
Great for historical significance: Oxford University
Overseas Tuition: $36,606 - 51,292/year
Cost of living: $924 + rent
Chances are, you’ve heard of Oxford. It's the oldest university among English-speaking countries, and if that's not enough, scenes from the Harry Potter movies were filmed here. One-third of Oxford's student body is international, and sixty-three percent of postgraduate students come from outside of the UK.
Oxford is about 90 minutes northwest of London. The campus is gorgeous, and the town has a long history of craft breweries. Oxford University is regularly ranked in the top-10 globally, including ranking second in the 2022 QS World University Rankings and first in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings of 2022.
According to the Oxford website, famous Oxford alum, known as Oxonians, date back to the 13th century and include an astounding 55 Nobel Prize recipients, 28 British Prime Ministers, and 120 Olympians. The prestige and historical impact of Oxford University can still be felt today as Oxford remains a leader in research, spanning disciplines from humanities to medicine.
Great for art students: Kingston University
Overseas Tuition: $18,231 - 21,250/year
Cost of living: $1,136 + rent
Located in Kingston-upon-Thames, about 30 minutes southwest of London, Kingston is a great place to study. The campus is compact, and there are several accommodation options nearby. There are also postgraduate scholarship opportunities and meet-ups for international students.
Kingston is a charming town on the River Thames, a shopper's paradise with charming old buildings. It's cozy in the winter and balmy in summer, making it a fun place to be a student. Additionally, Kingston University is ranked within the top 50 universities in the UK according to The Guardians 2022 Rankings.
Kingston University offers a specific focus on professional arts and crafts, making it a fantastic destination for students interested in design, illustration, and animation. The university also has a thriving community of international students. According to the Kingston University website, nearly 22% of their student population are international students from over 140 countries outside of Europe.
Great for football fans: University of Manchester
Overseas Tuition: $26,342 - 61,903/year
Cost of living: $901 + rent
With 8,000 international students, Manchester claims to have one of the most diverse student populations in the UK. They offer airport pickup for students and host information sessions in countries around the world, including Brunei, Hong Kong, and Thailand. Accommodation is guaranteed for all fee-paying international students.
Manchester is a lively town in northwest England and is known for its football team as well as its architecture and music scene. Manchester is serviced by buses, rail, and has its own airport.
The University of Manchester is committed to welcoming international students and fostering a multicultural environment. They offer a student immigration team to help support applicants and international students and provide a range of English language courses to prepare students for success in English-speaking studies.
Football is ingrained in the culture of Manchester, which is home to two iconic premier league teams, Manchester United and Manchester City. Manchester also hosts the National Football Museum, which is free for students (with proof of residency). Whether or not you begin studying in Manchester as a football fan, you will undoubtedly learn to respect the passion and love for the sport throughout the town -- just don't call it soccer.
Great for small class sizes: University College London
Overseas Tuition: $42,273/year
Cost of living: $1,136 + rent
Known as ‘London’s Global University,’ UCL is a popular spot with international students. It is one of the top universities in the UK and has a top-ten ranking with QS World University Rankings. Classes are small, with an average of nine students per teacher. Thirty percent of students are international, and courses focus on internationally relevant topics.
UCL is located smack-dab in London's Bloomsbury, a pretty neighborhood near Regent's Park and the British Museum. As an international capital, London is hard to beat – you’ll never run out of things to do.
Ranking 8th in the 2022 QS World University Rankings, UCL has one of the UK's most well-respected research programs. They also have a history of multiculturalism and breaking boundaries, as UCL was the first university in England to welcome students of all religions.
Great for post graduate support: University of Southampton
Overseas Tuition: $25,475/year
Cost of living: $830 + rent
The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 ranked Southampton 15th overall in the UK. Out of the 22,000 students enrolled, an astonishing 34% are international. Every student is entitled to three years of career advice after graduation, and the university collaborates with academic institutions all over the world.
Southampton is on the south coast of England, near the Isle of Wight. Old town walls still stand, and it was the launching pad for the RMS Titanic, which you might be familiar with. Its nickname is the "Green City," thanks to its parks and green spaces, making it conducive to summer festivals and events.
Southampton is also one of the sunniest cities in the UK, which is a significant benefit in a notoriously rainy country. The town is walkable and has a strong public transportation system, making it easy to enjoy all Southampton offers. Students can easily fill their weekends with football, live music, and a thriving art scene.
Great for sustainability and social progress: Bristol University
Overseas Tuition: $24,420/year
Cost of living: $914 + rent
Bristol was the first UK University to welcome women on an equal footing with men and the first in the UK to establish a drama department. It is also environmentally friendly: it was the first to become involved with the Green Impact Awards and is an accredited 'Fairtrade University.' Country-specific information is available on their website for international students.
The university is in downtown Bristol, a thriving yet relaxed town of cafes, bars, museums, and shops. Bristol is in Southwest England and was a finalist for the European Capital of Culture in 2008. This stems from a long history of being a cultural leader in the UK. In 2020, Bristol University started an anti-racism steering group to address "personal, cultural, and structural racism within the university."
Great private university: University of Buckingham
Overseas Tuition: $18,240 - 22,000/year
Cost of living: $986 + rent
The University of Buckingham is the UK’s only private university with a Royal Charter and only has 1000 students. However, roughly 90 nationalities are represented, and more than half of the students are from overseas. There are five schools of teaching: Law, Humanities, Arts & Languages, Business, and Science & Medicine. The university spends more than most in the UK on IT, which builds a modern academic environment. Buckinghamshire is just over an hour northwest of London, in an attractive setting home to scores of native wildlife.
As a private university, students should expect to pay more in tuition; however, the University of Buckingham offers an accelerated, two-year degree which can help mitigate the overall expense of studying. That means students can graduate with a bachelor's degree, then move on to a one-year master's degree and graduate with both within three years.
According to the Office for Students National Student Survey, the University of Buckingham is ranked 6th in overall student satisfaction and third in academic support throughout England. With a small student population (around 2,700), they offer small class sizes and, according to the University of Buckingham website, a 10.4:1 student:academic staff ratio.
Great international university: University of Nottingham
Overseas Tuition: $26,410 - 34,993/year
Cost of living: $853 + rent
It’s not just for Robin Hood – the University of Nottingham is a major player in England’s international universities. Nottingham’s emphasis on internationalism in all areas of study makes it a great choice for international students. Besides its UK campus, Nottingham has campuses in Malaysia and China.
The UK campus is broken into four main campuses, and a free hopper bus connects them all. Nottingham is in the midlands, among rolling green fields, and on the banks of the River Trent.
The University of Nottingham is a powerful research institute in the UK, and is ranked 8th in research power according to the Nottingham website. They offer an interdisciplinary approach to research which has led to alum winning Nobel Prizes, including Sir Peter Mansfield Nobel Prize in Medicine for work on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), a groundbreaking medical diagnostic tool.
Tips for studying in England
Studying abroad in England may be a new experience for most international students, with differences in university structure and grading. To prepare you for the new learning environment, here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Instead of courses, you will take modules, and your performance in these modules will determine your degree classification
- Module assessments are typically more project and essay-based, with a final exam at the end of the course
- Disbursement of student loans can take a few weeks, so plan accordingly
- Take advantage of your location and travel opportunities while studying in England, with cheap flights to other parts of the UK and Europe
While the university structures and grading systems can take some adjusting, with proper planning and an open mindset, it can also be an opportunity to broaden your horizons and experiences.
Read more: How to Study Abroad in England on a Budget
Hop across the pond
Regardless of where and what you choose to study, gaining international education experience will develop more than just your CV. You'll be exposed to various cultures and perspectives, learn to adapt to new challenges, and take the next step on your path to becoming a global citizen.