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Universities in London: a guide for international students

Francisco Peres

Last time we counted, there were 45 different universities in London, with a choice of more than 30,000 courses between them. There are so many colleges and universities in London, you might struggle telling them apart before you arrive. In an attempt to help you out, this is a short guide of waht we consider to be some of the main Universities in London.

UCL is in the Top 4 Universities in the World

The famous façade of the University College of London has always been a part of the university’s logo

University College London (UCL)

When UCL beat Oxford University in the QS World University Rankings this year, newspapers all over the world talked about it. However, UCL has always been considered one of the 10 best universities in the world. It is a definitely one of the most welcoming universities in London for international students : more than a third of the student population here comes from overseas. The main campus is in Gower Street, and most university buildings are in Bloomsbury but the University has other campuses in other parts of the city (and even the world: Australia, Kazakhstan,  and Qatar have UCL schools). Students who are thinking of applying should visit UCL’s prospective student website. The college’s Alumni include all members of the band Coldplay, Gandhi and 27 Nobel Prize winners. It’s definitely one of the most famous and prestigious of all 45 different colleges and universities in London.

KCL a TOP 20 University in the World

Kings College of London is the 3rd oldest University in England and the oldest of the universities in London

King’s College London

Known as KCL or King’s College, it is one of the top 20 universities in the world and KCL has a long and famous rivalry with UCL – one legend says King’s students once stole the head of a founder of UCL to play football with it! Just like its rival, KCL is also without a doubt one of the most prestigious universities in London. The university has five London campuses, four of which are by the Thames, in London’s city centre and the 5th is in Denmark Hill. King’s College is the third oldest university in England and a part of the University of London.

Imperial College London

Almost a third of those studying in Imperial College are international students

Imperial College London

Called Imperial for short. The QS ranking that made UCL 4th, rated Imperial 6th best university in the world, making London the only city (in the world!) with 2 universities ranked in the top 10. Imperial is mainly focused on sciences and students here are said to spend more time in labs than in the library. It is another university very popular with international students, almost a third of the student body. Imperial College’s main campus is in South Kensington; close to the Hyde Park and many of the city’s museums.

London School of Economics library

World-famous LSE has international students from all over the world

London School of Economics and Political Science

If you want to study social sciences, this is the UK’s only university specialising in the area. In fact, it is one of the best universities in the world for areas such as international relations, politics, law, and sociology. It is supposed to have students from over 150 countries, so if you’re coming to study here you will very likely find somebody from your home country. Another very central university, LSE’s campus is in Chancery Lane.

Queen Mary East End Mile End

Queen Mary is in the East End of London, in Pulp’s Mile End

Queen Mary

Nearly half of the university’s students are international and 30% of Queen Mary’s students are from non-European countries. Also a part of the University of London, and a member of the Russel Group (the UK’s ivy league equivalent), Queen Mary is most famous for medicine and dentistry. Queen Mary’s is at Mile End, in the East End of London, a famous but not very fancy area. Close to the campus is the Student Village, which has more than 1,000 rooms for student accommodation! It should also be famous as being equipped with a nuclear reactor for nearly 40 years.

Find accommodation to study at SOAS

International students at the SOAS campus, one of several universities in London based in Bloomsbury neighbourhood

School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS)

SOAS, (read as soh-as and not S.O.A.S.) is all about the languages, cultures and societies of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East. Together with Queen Mary, this could easily be one of the most international universities in London – if not the whole of England – as 38% of students in SOAS come from 160 different countries.  Students here are usually left-leaning politically and there’s strong radical ideologies to be found here – including Marxists and Anarchists. SOAS is in Bloomsbury and to get to it you’ll cross the beautiful gardens of Russel Square.

City University Student Accommodation

City University of London is one the world’s best business schools

City University London

‘The City’ is an independent city inside the city of London. You might not know this- in fact, not many people do. It is known popularly as ‘The Square Mile‘, though most people just call it The City.  City University is called after that ‘City’ and both of them are mostly about business. The Cass Business School, now in the Borough of Islington, is one of the best places in the world to study Managent, Finance or Business. It has 17,000 students, 16% are from the EU and 28% are international.

Godlsmiths University Student Accommodation

Goldsmith’s famous Scribble in the Sky on the Pimlott building

Goldsmiths’ College

Goldmsiths’ is one of the best institutions in the world for arts and humanities. The Goldsmiths’ Arts Department is one of the single most influential institutions shaping modern English art scene and the English and sociology departments are among the best in the world. The campus is in New Cross, a neighbourhood in South-East London with an arts and music scene that is really alive. The College made the news a few times in the past years for a series of student occupations in protest of tuition fee increases.

Birbeck College student housing

Birbeck is the perfect university for mature students or other students with full-time jobs.

Birkbeck College

Birkbeck College, a part of the University of London is perfect if you want to find a full-time job while you study: of all the colleges and universities in London it is the only one that allows students to complete full three-year degrees during evening courses – with all the visa and loan privileges of daytime study. It’s another college in Bloomsbury, close to UCL and SOAS. It’s average age is considerably higher than most universities in London and England:  34.

Student Accommodation in Royal Holloway

Royal Holloway is one of the World’s most beautiful universities

Royal Holloway

Not all the universities in London are central. Royal Holloway, for example, is around an hour away from central London on public transport. This university is best known for its courses in arts and humanities. Fun fact: only in 1965 did the Royal Holloway college start accepting male applicants, which may or may not be related to it being considered one of the most beautiful universities in the world.

So this is our list of ten universities in London you should know. Remember: there are enough other colleges, institutes and universities to make 3 other lists. That is the cool thing about London for students: whatever it is that you want to study, there are always plenty of world-class places you can choose from.

Thanks for reading this post! We hope to see you soon, coming back for more. Did you enjoy our article about Universities in London? Just drop us a line in the comment section below to let us know you did. And remember! If you need to find University housing in London – or you know someone that does – you’ll find the student home you’re looking for on Uniplaces.com.

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