Higher education institutions in England are some of the most popular around the globe and over 200,000 international students choose to study in England each year.
England is the largest country in the United Kingdom and boasts a fascinating history that deserves to be explored. As well as the bustling capital of London (home to 8.7 million people), there is a multitude of major cities such as Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Bristol, Liverpool, Newcastle and Leeds – all of which are easily accessible for students.
Thousands of families from all over the world have chosen to live in England, meaning it has a rich, multicultural feel to it. The nightlife and cultural offering is varied throughout the country and there is always something to do. There are plenty of art galleries, concerts, open-air markets, sports matches and pubs for students to enjoy.
English scientists and institutions have won more than 100 Nobel Prizes, an achievement very few countries can contend with. Many scholarships, grants and bursaries are available for international students at English institutions and the cost of living is good – including health care, which is provided free of charge by an institutionalised national system.
Below are some of the best universities to study at in England based on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2018.
The top five universities in England
The University of Oxford’s exact founding date is unknown; there is evidence to suggest that teaching began around 1096 – making it the oldest university in the English-speaking world and the world’s second oldest functioning university.
Spread over Oxford’s medieval city centre, the university consists of 44 colleges and halls, with over 100 libraries – making it the largest library system in the UK.
Oxford has the youngest population of any city in England and Wales, with a quarter of the residents being students (nearly 22,000 from over 140 different countries).
Oxford is a modern, research-driven university but its particular strengths lie in sciences – it was recently ranked number one in the world for medicine. If its medical sciences division was a university in its own right, it would be the fourth largest in the UK. It is also among the top 10 global universities for life sciences, physical sciences, social sciences and the arts and humanities.
Established in 1209, the University of Cambridge is the fourth oldest surviving university in the world and the second oldest in the English-speaking world.
The campus is in the centre of the city, with other listed buildings on or near the river Cam. There are 31 autonomous colleges, in which students attend small group teaching sessions called college supervisions.
There are approximately 18,000 students at Cambridge – with nearly 4,000 from a range of 120 different countries. It is also home to 100 libraries with more than 15 million books, nine arts, scientific and cultural museums, and a botanical garden.
Cambridge University Press is the university’s publishing business and it has over 50 offices worldwide, producing up to 45,000 titles spanning all kinds of academic research, education and bible publishing.
Covering every possible category, 92 affiliates of the university have been awarded Nobel Prizes.
Established as a university in 1907, Imperial College London was the result of a merger between the Royal College of Science, the Royal School of Mines and the City and Guilds College.
It is a science-based institution in the centre of London, located around the museum district of South Kensington – it formed part of Prince Albert’s mission to make this area a centre for education.
Imperial's focus is on science, engineering, medicine and business. It is home to the largest concentration of high-impact research of any major UK university. Its motto is Scientia imperii decus et tutamen, which translates as “Scientific knowledge, the crowning glory and the safeguard of the empire”. It boasts 14 Nobel Prize winners, including Sir Alexander Fleming, the inventor of penicillin.
Notable alumni include author H.G. Wells, Queen guitarist Brian May and Sir Liam Donaldson, former UK chief medical officer.
Founded in 1826 to bring higher education to those who were typically excluded from it, UCL became the first university in England to admit women on equal terms as men in 1878.
UCL is a constituent college of the University of London and is a member of the Russell Group. Based in the heart of London, it has a 36,000-strong student body and approximately 850 professors. International students, from around 150 countries, make up for one third of the population.
It has one of the largest systems of postgraduate study in the country, with almost 52 per cent of students involved in graduate programmes.
UCL was the first British university to open a campus in Doha, Qatar and it also has a presence in Adelaide, South Australia.
With 29 Nobel Prizes awarded to UCL students or staff, the university has been the birthplace of many significant scientific discoveries, including William Ramsay who discovered the noble gases in 1904.
Founded in the late 1800s by Fabian Society members Beatrice and Sidney Webb, Graham Wallas and George Bernard Shaw, the purpose of the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) was to improve society by "studying poverty issues and analysing inequalities".
LSE is one of the most prestigious social science universities in the world, specialising in economics, politics, sociology, law and anthropology. It is based near Aldwych in central London, where King George V laid the first stone of its "Old Building" in 1920. It is home to 9,600 students from over 140 countries.
As well as associations with 16 Nobel Prize winners, the LSE counts 37 past or present world leaders among its alumni. British prime minister Clement Attlee was an assistant lecturer in 1912 and Lord Beveridge was appointed director in 1937, going on to publish the famous Beveridge Report, a keystone of the UK’s welfare state.
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Top universities in England 2018
Click each institution to view its full World University Rankings 2018 results