Best places to study abroad

Rachel Swain, Editorial manager
April, 2022

With so many countries to explore deciding where to study abroad is no easy feat. High quality education is available all over the world - these are just some of the most popular destinations

International study appeals to UK students for a number of reasons, such as the opportunity for adventure and to explore rich cultures, the chance to learn a second language and to improve job prospects. You'll need to do your research, check your visa eligibility and consider any travel restrictions before making the move but for now let us talk you through some of the global leaders…


A common destination for gap year backpackers, Australia also has a strong reputation for higher education. Indeed, it is an attractive proposition for postgraduates wishing to study in a culturally diverse location that places a strong emphasis on the great outdoors.

As far as international student populations go, Oz is home to nearly 420,000 foreign students, so you'll be in good company. However, the country regularly tops the list as the priciest country for overseas students and based on average annual tuition fees and living expenses, studying Down Under typically costs more than £30,000 a year.

Despite the significant expense, British students are still drawn to Australia thanks to the good quality of life and the country's standing as an educational hotspot. In fact, Melbourne and Sydney are frequently named among the best student cities in the world and according to data from the Australian Government Department of Education, Skills and Employment other popular student areas include Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth.

Australia has 43 institutions that offer higher education, set up in a similar way to the UK. The country has 38 universities in the QS World University Rankings 2022, with seven in the top 100. The highest placed is the Australian National University, which sits in 27th position, followed by the University of Melbourne (37th) and the University of Sydney (38th).

You'll need a student visa to study in Australia, with the type you require depending on the course that you apply for.

Find out more about studying in Australia.


While Canada is the second largest country in the world, the majority of its population live close to the USA border. The country is famous for its wealth of natural beauty (and maple syrup), but can also be proud of its high academic standards.

Canada welcomes thousands of overseas students every year, attracted by its assortment of friendly, lively and multicultural cities. For example, Montreal and Toronto are regularly voted among the best student cities in the world.

You could spend between one and three years studying a full-time Masters degree - or 'grad' programme, as it's known. In return for your time, money and hard work, you'll get a globally recognised qualification.

An impressive 28 Canadian universities make the QS World University Rankings 2022, with three in the top 100:

  • University of Toronto (26)
  • McGill University (27)
  • University of British Columbia (46).

While you'll need to factor in the cost of administration and application fees, tuition is less expensive than in the UK. What's more, a number of scholarships and bursaries - for example the International Tuition Award - are available to international students. While Canada might not be the cheapest in terms of living costs, the country regularly features highly in standard of living indexes.

English is just one of two official languages in Canada. However, you're unlikely to need to speak the other, French, if your study destination is outside of Quebec.

If you plan to stay in the country for longer than six months, you'll need a study permit.

Learn more about studying in Canada.


Just a hop, skip and a jump away by plane, train or ferry France's close proximity to UK shores certainly factors in the country's popularity with students looking to study abroad. However, the short distance from home isn't the only reason. French higher education, particularly that provided in Paris, is known to be world class.

Known as the City of Lights, Paris is one of the most visited cities in the world and it's not hard to see why. From its thriving arts and fashion scene and royal palaces to its beautiful architecture and trendy cafes.

Université PSL, Institut Polytechnique de Paris, Sorbonne University and Universit Paris-Saclay are the top ranked institutions in the country, according to the QS World University Rankings 2022.

Low tuition fees go some way to offset high living costs in the capital city, so while fees may be cheap you'll still need to budget to live comfortably.

Discover what it's like to study in France.


More than 400,000 students from around the world choose to study in Germany every year, which says plenty about its higher education system and publicly-funded Masters programmes. Indeed, there are more international students in Germany than in any other country in the European Union (EU).

To be eligible for postgraduate study, you'll need to pass an entrance qualification known as the Abitur. It's nothing to worry about - it's simply a high school leavers' certificate.

Many universities are free to attend for international students, but it's important to check that this is the case for your course. Some Masters programmes may incur a fee - however this will be considerably less than in the UK.

In addition to universities (Universitäten), there are also specialised institutions and universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschulen). These offer courses in engineering, technology and business. Many programmes are taught in English, but a grasp of German will come in handy. German admissions are not centralised, so you should contact the individual institution directly.

A respectable 46 German universities are featured in the QS World University Rankings 2022. Setting the standard in 50th position is Technical University of Munich, followed by Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (63rd) and Ludwig-Maximilians Universität (64th).

Berlin and Munich are regularly voted among the most affordable student cities, with both locations boasting low living costs.

Following the UK's exit from the EU British students will need a visa to study in the country.

Find out more about studying in Germany.


While the cost of studying in Japan is relatively high the 'land of the rising sun' has so much to offer international students. With some of the highest educational standards in the world and a plethora of top-quality universities, studying in Japan is an investment that is likely to pay off.

Just to prove the point, 48 Japanese universities feature in the QS rankings, with five making it into the top 100. These include:

  • The University of Tokyo (23rd)
  • Kyoto University (33rd)
  • Tokyo Institute of Technology (56th)
  • Osaka University (75th)
  • Tohoku University (82nd).

Like the Russell Group in the UK or the Ivy League in the USA Japan also has its own group of prestigious institutions known as the 'National Seven Universities'.

Tokyo, Osaka and Kyoto are popular with international students but lesser known cities such as Nagoya, Fukuoka and Tsukuba are also student hot-spots.

The main language of study is Japanese so you'll need to do your research to find out which institutions offer programmes in English. Alternatively you could see this as the perfect opportunity to learn a second language.

The academic year runs from April to March and international students will need a visa to study in the country.

Read up on studying in Japan.


Often labelled the 'land of opportunity', the USA is a great place to study. The country spans six time zones and is one of the world's finest education providers.

With 177 American higher education establishments listed in the QS World University Rankings 2022 - not to mention five within the top ten - it's fair to say that the country merits its place as the number one destination for international students.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) sits proudly at the summit, but the range of quality options in both rural and city settings is what makes the USA such a prime postgraduate location. Major student cities include New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, which house many of the country's top universities such as:

  • California Institute of Technology
  • Columbia University (New York)
  • Harvard University (Boston)
  • New York University
  • Stanford (San Francisco)
  • University California, Los Angeles (UCLA)
  • University of Chicago.

Studying in the USA isn't without a hefty price tag but with varying costs it's worth doing your research before committing. You can apply for funding from sources such as the US-UK Fulbright Commission, which offers around 20 scholarships a year.

You'll need an F-1 visa and must be accepted and approved on your course before applying for one. You'll then be enrolled in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).

Learn more about studying in the USA.

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