The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is an island nation in northern Europe, with a well-known sporting, cultural and educational scene.
Over the course of history the United Kingdom established itself as a seafaring state with a strong navy and trade shipping routes. By the start of the twentieth century the UK had amassed the largest empire the world has ever seen, covering almost a quarter of the globe’s inhabitable land. Though this empire was dismantled after the Second World War, the UK maintains a strong relationship with many of its former colonies through the Commonwealth of Nations.
The UK also retains a constitutional monarchy, which famously has its primary residence in Buckingham Palace in London. In 2015 Elizabeth II became the longest reigning British monarch in history.
The UK’s top two universities, Oxford and Cambridge, are both expansive collegiates that are some of the oldest higher learning institutions in existence, and consistently rank in the top five universities worldwide. Since 1998 universities in the UK have charged tuition fees, usually at a higher rate for international students.
In 2016 a referendum was held in which the UK voted to leave the European Union. The effect that this decision will have on international students both inside the EU and out remains a point of contention within the UK Parliament and beyond.
Famous sons and daughters of the United Kingdom from history include Celtic warrior Boudica, settler of the New World Walter Raleigh and poet Robert Burns, while among current famous faces are singer Adele, Olympic champion Mo Farah, and multiple Academy Award winner Daniel Day-Lewis.
The University of Oxford is top in a list of the best universities in the UK, which includes institutions in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland
Times Higher Education World University Rankings data reveal the top colleges in Europe
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