Oxford, Cambridge, and Imperial College London; all highly prestigious UK universities with long and illustrious histories. But how do you decide where to plant your flag?
Well, if you aspire to attend a leading university on the global stage, do bear in mind that your options are not limited to the likes of Ivy League schools in the US. After all, one only needs to look to top universities in the UK, like those in the Russell Group for a similarly incredible education. As such, it might be an idea for you to explore why so many students, just like you, from around the world consider UK universities to be their top-choice destination for postsecondary studies.
You might think that top UK universities, like Oxford and Cambridge, when compared to elite US institutions like those in the Ivy League have much in common. That's true, to a degree. They all offer world-class education, incredible resources, and achingly beautiful campuses.
On the other hand, there are significant differences between US and UK institutions. Let's dive straight in and identify for you a few unique features about UK universities, and show you why so many pick the UK for their undergraduate education. Together, let’s discover 5 compelling reasons why the sun will never set on UK universities and colleges. So, here we go:
1. You are aiming for Oxbridge
The UK is indeed home to the much-vaunted duo of Oxford and Cambridge (ergo, the combination of their names gives rise to the term “Oxbridge”). So, if you’ve set your sights on Oxbridge, the UK is your go.
Of course, there are many other outstanding UK institutions for you to consider, but it is impossible to deny that two of the biggest draws in the UK education system are Oxford and Cambridge.
As two of the world's oldest and most famous universities, Oxford and Cambridge consistently rank at or near the top of global rankings. Students who attend Oxbridge are often inspired by professors that are world leaders in their respective fields. These students can also benefit greatly from learning in relatively small classes as well as receiving in-depth feedback and guidance.
Not only that elite UK universities including Oxbridge provide top-notch education and exceptional opportunities for their students, many of whom excel under such enriching environments and grow to become captains of industries and leaders of their world.
If you were selected to attend Oxbridge, it could well be an opportunity of a lifetime.
To get there, it’s all about strategic planning and execution.
2. You want an admissions process that’s not too complex
Unlike the holistic admissions system in the US, under which a whole host of non-academic factors are considered, the UK university admissions process is much more straightforward.
Note that when applying to UK universities, the core focus is primarily on academics. Unlike the US holistic system, which covers many different factors, your UK university application would be concerned mainly with your academic ability and performance with regard to your chosen specialization and how deep you have gone into that specialisation.
Further note that the UK university admissions process is less complex as it only allows students to apply to 5 universities. Also, you can only apply to either Oxford or Cambridge in the same year. All your applications are made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, or UCAS for short.
The takeaway is this: if you have demonstrated deep passion for a particular academic area and have earned excellent grades, AND you prefer not to submit details of your extracurricular achievements and all other components that make up the US holistic admissions process, then you’ll be a great fit for the UK university application process, which is still rigorous and challenging but less complicated than the US system.
3. You’re an academic powerhouse
Let us put it this way:
Then you’re tailor-made to succeed in the UK university admissions process.
The reason is that as mentioned above, under the holistic admissions system in the US, non-academic criteria such as extracurricular distinctions and community engagements are seriously taken into consideration. On the other hand, the UK admissions system adopts a much more focused approach with regard to your academic capabilities and performance in your chosen study area.
If your academic strengths align with your chosen course of studies, you're well-placed to succeed in the UK admissions process.
Extracurriculars do play a part in the UK admissions process, but it’s a much smaller role. For instances, if you’re seeking admission to a selective US college, academics are always of great importance, but your admissions X-Factor, might well be your extracurricular achievements. That scenario is far less likely in the case of a top UK university. For the UK university applications, your extracurricular accomplishments will play a much lesser supporting role to your academic excellence.
Another way the UK admissions process favors academically strong students is that, unlike the US where you apply to a university as opposed to a specific degree, the UK process requires that you apply to a specific course within a university. As such, your UK admissions profile will revolve around your demonstrated academic abilities in a particular area of studies, your focus on such academic pursuits beyond the classroom, and your long-term plans to specialise in your chosen course of studies.
In short, if your academic accomplishments form the crux of who you are as a student and as an applicant, then you are likely much better served in the UK admissions system as opposed to the US.
4. You know for sure what you want to study
Some students want to explore a bit at university before they decide what they want to specialise in. That’s fine.
But others know precisely what they want to study and why, long before they set foot on their university campus. If you're in this group, the UK application system is definitely for you.
One of the significant differences between the US and UK systems is that, unlike the US, the UK generally does not allow students to explore different academic pathways during their first year or two at university. Instead, UK universities require students to select their course of studies when they apply.
Furthermore, almost all of your collegiate education will focus on that specialty. If you are sure about what you want to study, you will love diving into your concentration area as a first-year student at a UK university. Not only that you’ll be jumping straight into your desired academic specialisation, you'll have more time to go deeper in your chosen academic pursuit than if you had chosen to attend a US college.
Another enormous appeal of the UK system for undergraduates is that it allows students to study for professional degrees. For example, this includes degrees in medicine, dentistry or law. Conversely, many US colleges don't offer these professional degrees to undergraduates. Rather, they are offered to postgraduates.
So, in the US, you generally have to wait till after the completion of your first degree at university before you can undertake a professional degree. In the UK, you can save time and money by undertaking a professional degree in your first year at university.
As such, if your goal is to become a hotshot lawyer or life-saving doctor, and you want to start on that journey as soon as possible, then you may very well be packing your bags for a top UK university or college.
5. You want to have Europe at your fingertips
On top of the excellent education you will receive, one big bonus of studying in the UK is that you will have Europe at your fingertips. Within the UK, you can traverse across England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. In addition, France (Paris) is only a 2-hour train ride from London. Then, there’s Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Spain, etc.
The list goes on.
You could travel far and wide across Europe during your semester breaks, you could even skip to another country on weekends! Of course, only if finances permit. After all, to varying degrees, most of us have financial constraints.
But with so many European countries on offer, as a student at a UK university, you could become a seasoned traveller in record time. At least for the lucky few.
With a top-tier UK college, not only do you have an outstanding education but also endless opportunities post-graduation.
If you know exactly what you want to study, and are after a more academically focused admissions process, then the UK might just the place for you.
To learn more and find out if the UK is a good fit for you, sign up today to register with ivyO!