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14 best universities in Scotland for international students: rankings, tuition fees, reviews

Education information

Today, more and more foreign students choose studying in Scotland as it guarantees wide career opportunities in the future. SMAPSE offers more than 10 best universities in Scotland where international students can get high-quality higher education. Higher education received in Scotland allows to become in-demand expert that has great chances to get well paid job in the international labour market. Due to the list of TOP-10 prestigious Scottish universities, you will definitely find the most appropriate option. Please, don't hesitate to contact SMAPSE experts at any time as they are always ready to answer all your questions. 

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Leading universities in Scotland for international students

The history of education in Scotland goes deep into the Middle Ages. The oldest and best universities in Scotland continue to work to this day. The largest universities are located in developed cities with rich infrastructure - Edinburgh, Glasgow, Lanark and Falkirk. Many of the best universities and universities in Scotland can boast of the most active world research centers, which carry out research in the field of medicine and pharmacology that are significant for science and humanity. Most universities are multidisciplinary and prepare specialists in humanitarian, technical and natural sciences. The most powerful faculties are medical, veterinary and earth sciences.

The system of scientific degrees corresponds to the ideas of the Bologna system: the university has undergraduate, graduate and doctoral programs. Bachelor's programs in Scotland last four years - during this period, students acquire the necessary scientific base and knowledge in special subjects. Unlike British programs, university courses in universities in Scotland are more flexible - students have every chance to graduate from a university with double qualifications (for example, law + economics). The best universities and universities in Scotland take pride in using an integrated approach: study here is not only focused on practical knowledge, but also allows you to use your skills in different fields. As a result of this approach, the student becomes a versatile and diverse employee and can flexibly adapt to the requirements of the market.

Unlike the British higher educational system, students of universities in Scotland can be determined for a long time with their future profession: until the third year of undergraduate program is quite flexible, an interdisciplinary approach is applied. At the so-called sandwich courses, semesters of theoretical classes alternate with semesters of working practice. The duration of the Master's programs is 1 year.

There are several types of accommodation for foreign students: a student dormitory or apartment rental. Studying at universities in Scotland for foreign students is usually paid: at least, a student will need about 15 thousand pounds a year to pay for an educational program. Students with high academic performance can apply for scholarship programs that pay part of the studying cost (up to 10 thousand pounds a year). University students have the right to earn extra money, but no more than 20 hours a week.

Admission to Scottish universities

The conditions put forward by TOP universities in Scotland are the first things to worry about for a student preparing to enter a university. First of all, international students can face with a "lack" of 1 academic year according to the Scottish educational system. The doors of universities in Scotland are closed for foreign students immediately after school (but there are exceptions, especially in private universities in Scotland). There are several options for “completing” the missing year of study:

  • enter a university in your homecountry and study 1-2 years
  • to enter Scotland's private boarding school for graduation classes, thereby obtaining a Scottish certificate
  • to become a college student in Scotland and subsequently graduate
  • take Foundation program, pre-university courses or its equivalent

A high level of English proficiency is an important part of preparing for admission. A sufficient level of language skills (above average) must be confirmed by the IELTS language exam certificate (from 6.0), TOEFL (from 550), etc., as well as a high level of English will need to be demonstrated at the interview.

The package of documents may vary, as well as the requirements in each individual case, so it is recommended to contact the university 1-2 years before admission and clarify all the nuances.

5 steps to enter a university in Scotland for international students

  • Step 1. Choose the kind of university in Scotland: public or private? It is recommended to get acquainted with university rankings and tops, to learn strong faculties and the nature of studying. 
  • Step 2. Choose how you will catch up on the missing academic year, and begin preparation
  • Step 3. Make every effort to graduate from a school or other educational institution with a good average mark and pass the language exam as best as possible
  • Step 4. Report up-to-date academic information via UCAS or directly to a university in Scotland
  • Step 5. Wait for an answer and then apply for a student visa.

Times Higher Education’s top 50 best universities in USA 2021

World University Rank 2021  US Rank 2021 University City State
 2  1 Stanford University Stanford California
 3  2 Harvard University Cambridge Massachusetts
 4  3 California Institute of Technology Pasadena California
 5  4 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge Massachusetts
 7  5 University of California, Berkeley Berkeley California
 8  6 Yale University New Haven Connecticut
 9  7 Princeton University Princeton New Jersey
 10  8 University of Chicago Chicago Illinois
 12  9 Johns Hopkins University Baltimore Maryland
 13  10 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia Pennsylvania
 15  11 University of California, Los Angeles Los Angeles California
 17  12 Columbia University New York City New York
 19  13 Cornell University Ithaca New York
 =20  14 Duke University Durham North Carolina
 22  15 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor Michigan
 24  16 Northwestern University Evanston Illinois
 26  17 New York University New York City New York
 28  18 Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
 29  19 University of Washington Seattle Washington
 33  20 University of California, San Diego San Diego California
 38  21 Georgia Institute of Technology Atlanta Georgia
 44  22 University of Texas at Austin Austin Texas
 48  23 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign Illinois
 49  24 University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison Wisconsin
 50  25 Washington University in St Louis St. Louis Missouri
 53  26 University of Southern California Los Angeles California
 =54  27 Boston University Boston Massachusetts
 =56  28 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Chapel Hill North Carolina
 61  29 Brown University Providence Rhode Island
 =64  30 University of California, Davis Davis California
 68  31 University of California, Santa Barbara Santa Barbara California
 =80  32 Ohio State University (Main campus) Columbus Ohio
 =85  =33 Emory University Atlanta Georgia
 =85  =33 University of Minnesota Minneapolis Minnesota
 90  35 University of Maryland, College Park College Park Maryland
 =94  36 Purdue University West Lafayette West Lafayette Indiana
 =98  37 University of California, Irvine Irvine California
 =101  38 Dartmouth College Hanover New Hampshire
 105  39 Michigan State University East Lansing Michigan
 =111  40 Vanderbilt University Nashville Tennessee
 =114  41 Penn State (Main campus) State College Pennsylvania
 117  42 University of Virginia (Main campus) Charlottesville Virginia
 120  43 Georgetown University   Washington D.C
 =121  44 Case Western Reserve University Cleveland Ohio
 =124  45 University of Arizona Tucson Arizona
 =124  =45 Rice University Houston Texas
 =131  47 University of Colorado Boulder Boulder Colorado
 =133  48 University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh campus Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
 =140  49 Indiana University Bloomington Indiana
 =147  50 University of Rochester Rochester (NY) New York

Cost of living in Scotland

Expenses - USD/Month. Min.
Accommodation 598
Food 413
Transportation 61
Communications and utilities 96
Clothing 36
Sports and leisure 52
Total 1,256


Accommodation in Scotland

Shared room outside of centre 604
Shared room in city centre 795
1 bedroom apartment outside of centre 914
1 bedroom apartment in city centre 1242


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Current material has been prepared by Egor Eremeev
Education: Kuban State University, Russia (World Economics); Westminster University (Business & Management), London.
Egor studied and lived in the UK for 8 years and graduated from the university of Westminster. He is currently the co-founder and the director of business development at Smapse Education and personally visits foreign schools and universities, interviews students studying in those institutions.
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