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Higher education – Introduction

King's College, Cambridge

In 2012, over 420,000 international students from 200 nations chose to study in the United Kingdom for their higher education, joining over two million local students. In addition, over 500,000 international students gained a UK qualification outside the UK.

With outstanding teaching and facilities, UK universities and colleges offer you a world-class higher education and qualifications that are respected by employers and academics worldwide.

UK higher education students are generally aged 18 or over (17 in Scotland), and have usually already achieved further education qualifications, such as A-levels, the International Baccalaureate, Scottish Highers or an equivalent qualification from the UK or another country. Many have completed a foundation or access course too.

UK higher education is split into two levels:

  • Undergraduate programmes include bachelors' degrees, foundation degrees, higher national diplomas (HNDs) and more

  • Postgraduate programmes include masters' degrees, MBAs, PhDs, doctorates and more. Usually, you need an undergraduate qualification to enter a postgraduate programme.

Most courses are taught in universities, but plenty are taught at colleges, specialist art institutions, business schools and agricultural colleges.

Find out all about UK higher education in this section.