We’re on a quest to explore everything the UK has to offer international students beyond the borders of its iconic capital city, London. Week before last, we visited Wales, a country with a lower cost of living, jaw-dropping natural beauty, impressive history, and world-class sports and culture, as well as cutting-edge universities. While Wales is certainly a tough act to follow, Scotland is more than up to the challenge!
Scotland boasts its own rich history, rugged landscapes, vibrant cities, quaint small towns, and welcoming people. It’s also home to compelling historical figures such as Mary, Queen of Scots, the poet Robert Burns, and Macbeth, not to mention the elusive Loch Ness monster—Nessie for short. But beyond that, Scotland also offers an incredible study abroad experience. Over 50,000 students from more than 180 countries around the globe study in Scotland every year.
Let’s find out why!
3 Great Reasons to Study in Scotland
There are countless reasons why Scotland offers international students such an unforgettable study abroad experience. We’ve narrowed it down to three.
1. Location, Location, Location
Whether you enjoy the hustle and bustle of city living or the easier pace of a more relaxed, small-town, Scotland has something to offer every lifestyle. An impressive three Scottish cities—Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen—made an appearance on the most recent QS Best Student Cities Ranking. The same three cities were also included among the most affordable in the UK for students on the Natwest Student Living Index 2020. Like Wales, Scotland offers a lower cost of living compared to other UK study abroad destinations. These accolades and more have helped to cement Scotland’s status as a leading choice for international students.
2. In-Demand Graduates
According to the International Graduate Outcomes 2019 (i-GO), an impressive 91% of international graduates are “satisfied with their learning experience at a Scottish university.” The same survey reports that 86% of international graduates would recommend pursuing education at a university in Scotland.
Why are international students so enthusiastic about studying in Scotland? Part of the reason is that Scotland produces highly sought-after graduates. A staggering nine out of 10 gain employment or go on to further study within six months of graduating. This is a testament to the fact that many Scottish universities work closely with industry to give students the tools they need to excel in the workforce after graduation.
3. Always Something to Do
From the Edinburgh Festival Fringe—the world’s largest arts festival, held every August—to island hopping in the Inner and Outer Hebrides, there’s always something to do in Scotland.
If golf is your game, why not play a round in the country that introduced the sport to the world? For those who enjoy the outdoors, there are countless beaches, forests and woodlands, walking trails, and mountains and hills to explore—including the dramatic Scottish Highlands. You can even catch a glimpse of the dazzling Northern Lights in Scotland!
Finally, history buffs will definitely get their fill in Scotland. Students can visit ancient towns and imposing fortresses, such as Edinburgh Castle, which looms high above its namesake city. There are also many leading museums and other cultural institutions where you can easily lose an afternoon.
A Spotlight on 3 Scottish Universities
Now that we’ve whetted your appetite for studying abroad in Scotland, let’s take a look at three leading Scottish universities.
1. Abertay University
With its array of job-ready vocational degrees designed in close partnership with industry, Abertay University ensures students get the skills and knowledge to thrive in a highly competitive 21st-century workplace landscape. The university offers a range of courses across business, engineering, health, science, and sports. However, Abertay has attracted worldwide attention for its leading computer arts and games technology courses, helping the university become “a global hub for computing and gaming.” To top it off, Abertay was recognized as the University of the Year for Teaching Quality in The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021.
Abertay’s campus is located in the heart of Dundee, a small city of 150,000 with a thriving population of creatives. (While COVID might have you stuck at home, you can pay the Abertay campus a virtual visit in Minecraft!) It’s no surprise then that the city is also home to the V&A Dundee, which was established in 2018. The V&A Dundee is not only Scotland’s very first design museum, it’s also the first Victoria & Albert Museum to open its doors outside of London.
2. University of Sterling
Since 1967, the University of Stirling has been driven by transformative thinking and a spirit of innovation. Its mission is to give students the knowledge and expertise to make their impact on the world. This mission is how Stirling has earned its global reputation for high-quality teaching and internationally acclaimed research. The aim is simple: From feeding the world to using psychology to catch criminals, Stirling wants to tackle the global issues of our time. Its multi-disciplinary researchers challenge assumptions, innovate thinking, and find solutions.
The university is situated on a beautiful 330-acre campus in Stirling, Scotland. Known as the “Gateway to the Highlands,” Stirling was named the safest student city in the UK in the Complete University Guide 2020. The city is also home to Stirling Castle, the childhood home of Mary, Queen of Scots. For nature lovers, Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park are just 30 minutes away. Edinburgh and Glasgow are also within easy reach—both approximately 50 minutes by train or car.
3. University of Strathclyde
A leading international technological university, the University of Strathclyde’s reputation and influence is truly global. With a community of more than 23,000 students, studying at Strathclyde is a fantastic experience, where students will enjoy flexible, innovative learning and excellent facilities. The university is renowned for its world-class research and strong links with industry, government, and business. In addition to its exceptional range of industrial placements, internships, and scholarships, Strathclyde offers a variety of clubs and societies, volunteering opportunities, and membership to Scotland’s largest students’ union.
Strathclyde is in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city. Glasgow boasts world-class architecture and attractions, a diverse culinary scene, vibrant nightlife, and outstanding shopping. National Geographic named it one of its “Best of the World” destinations, while Rough Guide readers voted Glasgow the world’s friendliest city! Time Out also named Glasgow one of the top ten best cities in the world.