Getting into a top university in the UK can be a gruelling, confusing and often baffling process for people applying from abroad. Having grown up in Spain with an English background, I understand that the whole British world of academia can seem impenetrable from the outside. Here’s ten things you might want to consider before applying to study in the UK:

  1. It is expensive… sort of. Although most universities (except a couple) are public institutions, the introduction of university fees has been a recent and controversial development. The last conservative government increased these to £9,000 a year. But don’t despair: the government offers generous loans to students across the EU, and these don’t have to be paid until you’re earning a decent salary.
  2. They are some of the best universities in the world. A recent ranking by QS placed four UK universities among the top ten. Another ranking, by Times High Education, named Oxford University the second best in the world, followed by Cambridge University in fourth place. There’s no doubt that UK universities are at the cutting edge of research whilst also helping to guarantee good job prospects.
  3. And also some of the most beautiful. Oxford and Cambridge are famous for their cobbled streets, ‘dreaming spires’ and stunning quadrangles. But they are not the only ones: University College London, Royal Holloway, Edinburgh and St Andrews are but a few examples of beautiful universities across the United Kingdom.
  4. It might not matter what you study. The great thing about studying in the UK is that you are not necessarily tied to a vocational subject. Whilst you’ll certainly have the chance to study business management or journalism if you so wish, subjects like Classics, English Literature and History are also highly respected, and students who study these subjects frequently become successful lawyers, consultants, business managers and bankers.
  5. You’ll have access to a tailored career’s service. There is an increasing expectation in the UK, like in the rest of the world, that universities should go beyond their duty of training their students intellectually. They should also help students secure good jobs, and many careers services on UK campuses are well-endowed to ensure you get a job by the end of your degree.
  6. You’ll have to write a page-long personal statement. Applying to university in the UK isn’t just about grades, although they’re certainly important. All applicants have to write a page-long personal statement explaining their motivations in applying for a particular course and outlining their hobbies and interests.
  7. You’ll be expected to learn a lot by yourself. In most universities, students don’t have a fixed, rigorous schedule. Aside from a couple of lectures and tutorials a week, you are expected to do most of the work in your own time, often in the library.5401469988_994c3743da_o










8. There are scholarships available. If you’re worried about the high cost of living in the UK, don’t despair! Not only do individual universities offer scholarships of their own, but often companies or even countries themselves will offer scholarships to students from certain places.

9.You might have to attend an interview. Oxford and Cambridge interviews are infamous for their threatening and challenging environment, but increasingly universities across the country are resorting to the interview technique in order to ensure that all their applicants are of a high quality.

10. You’ll meet people from all over the world. This might be true of all universities, but it’s especially the case in the UK. Students from across the six continents are attracted to UK universities for their prestige, their job prospects and the positive student atmosphere present on most campuses.


by Max Long, who just graduated from the University of Oxford with a degree in History, and has since founded Woodlark Tuition & Consulting, an agency to help students who wish to study at elite universities in the UK. You can visit his website at

Max Long also wrote this article in spanish for:     —-> Take a look here: Estudiar en el Reino Unido: 10 cosas que deberías saber