Come for the learning, leave for the ruling

British Council claims that one in 10 current world leaders have studied in the UK

September 25, 2014

One in 10 current world leaders have studied in the UK, according to a British Council tally that covers the globally influential, the obscure and the notorious.

The British Council’s count of leaders (out of 245 worldwide) who were students in the UK includes figures such as Tony Abbott, the Australian prime minister, who studied at the University of Oxford; Elio Di Rupo, the Belgian prime minister, who studied at the University of Leeds; and Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president, who studied at Glasgow Caledonian University.

Also cited by the British Council, but perhaps less likely to feature in any prospectuses, are Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president who undertook postgraduate training at the Western Eye Hospital, now part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, and Viktor Orbán, the controversial prime minister of Hungary, who spent time at Oxford.

Lesser-known UK alumni cited by the British Council include King Tupou VI of Tonga, who studied at the University of East Anglia, and Enele Sopoaga, the prime minister of Tuvalu, who studied at Oxford and the University of Sussex.

Rebecca Hughes, the British Council’s head of international higher education, said: “Having so many heads of state spend part of their most formative years learning about and being part of UK culture is a fine example of how the UK’s higher education sector is a long-term asset, not just locally but internationally.”

The British Council said that when measured as a proportion of total students in each country, the UK is 10 times more likely to produce a world leader than the US. UK universities produce one world leader per 50,000 graduates, whereas the US produces one per 500,000, the British Council said.

The British Council launched the Education UK Alumni Awards on 25 September, which it said was “part of a new campaign that seeks to identify and celebrate exceptional achievement of recent alumni from China, India and the USA, three of the biggest sources of international students at UK universities, and inspire the next generation of students to study in the UK”.


You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Most Commented

United Nations peace keeper

Understanding the unwritten rules of graduate study is vital if you want to get the most from your PhD supervision, say Kevin O'Gorman and Robert MacIntosh

David Parkins Christmas illustration (22 December 2016)

A Dickensian tale, set in today’s university

Eleanor Shakespeare illustration (5 January 2017)

Fixing problems in the academic job market by reducing the number of PhDs would homogenise the sector, argues Tom Cutterham

poi, circus

Kate Riegle van West had to battle to bring her circus life and her academic life together

Houses of Parliament, Westminster, government

There really is no need for the Higher Education and Research Bill, says Anne Sheppard