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The UK is short for The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Situated in European continent, it is a sovereign state but is made up of 4 countries: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The largest country of the UK is England. The smallest country is Northern Ireland.
The UK is located mainly on 2 large islands in the Atlantic Ocean: the island of Great Britain and the island of Ireland. Britain part of the island includes England and Wales. Great Britain is the largest (greatest) island in the British Isles (8th largest island in the world) and houses the countries of England, Scotland and Wales within its shores and that is why the island was called ‘Great’ Britain. The island of Great Britain and the island of Northern Ireland are together known as the UK.
The British Isles is the name of a group of islands situated off the north-western corner of mainland Europe. It is made up of Great Britain, Ireland, The Isle of Man, The Isles of Scilly, The Channel Islands (including Guernsey, Jersey, Sark and Alderney), as well as over 6,000 other smaller islands.
To understand the differences in a snapshot
|Britain||: England + Wales|
|Great Britain||: England + Wales + Scotland|
|UK||: England + Wales + Scotland + Northern Ireland|
England is one of the countries of UK but it is not a sovereign state. It is the largest country within the UK both by area and population. The capital of England is London which is also the capital of the UK.
The capital of Scotland is Edinburgh, of wales is Cardiff and of Northern Ireland is Belfast.
The landmass of UK is surrounded by North Sea, the Irish Sea, the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean and has one land border only with the Republic of Ireland.
UK: quick facts -
|Area||: 242,514 sq km (93,638 sq miles)|
|Population||: about 67 million people|
|Major ethnic groups||: British, Irish, West Indian, South Asian|
|Major languages||: English, Welsh, Irish Gaelic, Scottish Gaelic|
|Currency||: British Pound (GBP)|
|Government||: Parliamentary democracy and constitutional monarchy|
|Number of cities||: 69 (51 in England, 7 in Scotland, 6 in Wales, 5 in Northern Ireland)|
|Economy||: 6th largest economy, 5th biggest exporter of the world|
|GDP||: £2.14 trillion|
|GDP per capita||: £31,991.40|
UK as a higher education destination
As per the Home Office Register of licensed student sponsors (updated in September 2022), there are 1523 Higher Education Institution (HEI), Independent School, Publicly Funded College, Overseas Higher Education Institution, Embedded college offering pathway courses and Private Provider that can sponsor international students via either student or child student route to study in the UK.
Higher Education Institution (HEI) normally refers to universities. There are 165 Higher Education Institution (HEI) in the UK as per the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).
In 2019–20, there were 538,615 international students studying at UK higher Education Institutions (HESA). In 2020, UK ranked 3rd with 22.3% share of worldwide international students at higher education (Statista). UK’s share is anticipated to increase significantly in 2021 and beyond.
Top reasons and benefits of study UK
1. UK higher education brand - top in the world
4 of the world’s top 10 and 17 of the world’s top 100 universities are in the UK (The QS World University Rankings, 2022).
The 2021 Best Countries for Education ranking based on a perception-based global survey, which used a compilation of scores from three equally weighted country attributes: having a well-developed public education system, whether people would consider attending university there and if that country provides a top quality education, UK ranked Number 2 next to USA (U.S. News).
Among countries that consistently deliver the best higher education experience and boast the strongest higher education systems, UK ranked 2nd among the top 50 countries worldwide (QS Higher Education System Strength Rankings).
The latest National Student Survey, published in 2020, found that 83% of students were satisfied with the quality of their course, 84% were happy with the teaching on their course, 86% were happy with their learning resources and 83% were happy with their learning opportunities in the UK.
2. UK higher education quality - excellent standard
The quality, standards, validity of UK higher education have been regulated and assured by independent and government regulatory bodies to make sure these are of the excellent and highest levels.
Quality of UK higher education is continuously and consistently reviewed, monitored, assessed and assured by Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), the independent body that checks on standards and quality in UK higher education through external peer review. Reviewers check that the core expectations of the Quality Code, agreed and recognised by the UK higher education sector, are met. QAA works closely with other organisations that have an interest in the reputation of UK higher education, including the Office for Students (Ofs), Universities UK and GuildHE.
The Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation (Ofqual) is the regulator of qualifications, examinations and assessments in England and the regulator of vocational qualifications in Northern Ireland. It is responsible for ensuring that all qualifications and assessment meet high quality standards by monitoring awarding organisations, assessments and examinations and taking the necessary action to ensure that the qualifications meet the needs of learners, higher education institutions and employers. It is often referred to as the exam ‘watchdog’.Ofqual is independent of government and report directly to Parliament.
The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) developed by The Office for Students is a national exercise to assess excellence in teaching at higher education providers and assess how they ensure excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate level employment or further study.
UK use The Research Excellence Framework (REF) system for assessing the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.
The Office for Students publishes list of Recognised bodies (UK higher learning institutions that can award recognised UK degrees themselves) and Listed bodies (cannot award recognised UK degrees themselves, but they can deliver courses that lead to a UK degree which is validated and awarded by a recognised body). If a UK degree/qualification is awarded by a recognised body, then it will be officially accepted as valid qualification.
3. UK higher education international recognition - highly valued
In addition to UK government’s recognition, most of the UK degrees and qualifications are recognised and professionally accredited by national and international relevant professional, technical, industrial or chartered bodies ensuring the qualification outcomes meet requirements of related bodies and international benchmarks. This adds extra value to the qualifications and help graduates in entering and developing international career.
4. UK higher education international impact - great returns
Universities UK International (UUKi) International Graduate Outcomes 2019 survey conducted by iGraduate with responses from more than 16,000 international graduates from 58 UK Higher Education Institutions reveals that 90% of graduates are satisfied with their learning experience and the support they received from their universities in the UK, 83%) felt that their UK degree helped them to get a job, 82% of international graduates say that their UK degree was worth the financial investment.
In 2017–18, 91% of responding graduates were in job or due to start work or further study approximately 15 months after leaving university (HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey results record).
UK is number 1 for educating the world’s leaders; a study by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) reveals the UK’s higher education sector has educated more of the world’s leaders than any other. Almost one in seven countries around the world has a prime minister or head of state who studied in a UK higher education institution, according to an analysis by the British Council. This measure of "soft power" shows 27 countries have a UK-educated leader.
UK has the 2nd most number of Noble Prize winners in the world (WorldAtlas). Additionally, there are many other country Nobel Prize winners who are educated from the UK.
5. UK advantages for international students - second to none
6. UK’s competitive edge in international higher education - makes students winners
7. Work opportunity and immigration prospects in the UK - highly rewarding
UK higher education systems are very well-structured, co-ordinated and follow common frameworks country-wide. The admission and enrolment procedures are simplified and streamlined for international students to understand these easily with clarity and intelligibility. The motto is to make students more informative so that they can take choice and make decision with complete knowledge of problems and prospects before their investment in overseas higher education. A warm welcoming UK education strategy is committed to provide as many benefits as possible to international students’ favour and advantages and give them the most pleasing and rewarding education experience.
A: In 2020-21, 584120 international students (EU and Non-EU) studied at UK higher education institutions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Below is an account for International students per country of study, 2020-21:
|Country||Non-EU international students||EU international students|
Source: HESA Student Record FPE, 2020-21
A International students come to the UK to study undergraduate courses (English, foundation, bachelors etc.), postgraduate taught and postgraduate research courses. Please find below percentage breakdown for each level of study by international students in 2020-21:
|Level of course||Non-EU international||EU international|
Source: HESA, 2021)
|Level of course||Non-EU international||EU international|
Source: Source: HESA Student Record FPE, 2020-21
A In both 2019-20 & 2020-21 academic years Business and management, engineering and technology, and social sciences courses attracted the highest number of international students. In 2021, 42.9% international students studied business and management subjects, 39.5% studied engineering and technology and 21.8% studied social science subjects.
Computing and subjects allied to medicine saw the largest growth in international students, growing by 29.7% and 19.9% respectively from 2019-20 to 2020-21 (HESA, 2021).
|Business and Management||73,085||85,205||158,290|
|Engineering and Technology||32,480||27,715||60,195|
|Design, Creative and Performing Arts||25,005||12,095||37,100|
|Subjects allied to Medicine||15,830||10,920||26,750|
|Biological and Sport Sciences||10,285||5,585||15,875|
|Architecture, Building and Planning||6,430||8,035||14,465|
|Language and Area studies||8,105||5,955||14,060|
|Media, Journalism & Communications||6,820||6,210||13,025|
|Medicine and Dentistry||7,345||4,580||11,925|
|Education and Teaching||1,840||8,975||10,815|
|Historical, Philosophical & Religious studies||5,750||4,425||10,180|
|Geography, Earth & Environmental studies||2,340||2,715||5,055|
|Agriculture, Food & related studies||1,180||1,455||2,630|
|Combined and General studies||1,560||895||2,455|
Source: HESA Student Record FPE, 2020-21
A Studying in the UK is better than studying in most of the home countries because
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