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In the UK, you’ll find an array of exciting experiences to discover - music, celebrations, accents, people to meet, places to visit – the list is endless.

Region Overview

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (commonly known as the United Kingdom, the UK or Britain) is a sovereign state located off the northwestern coast of continental Europe. It is an island country, spanning an archipelago including Great Britain, the northeastern part of the island of Ireland, and many small islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK with a land border, sharing it with the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the UK is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, the North Sea, the English Channel and the Irish Sea. The largest island, Great Britain, is linked to France by the Channel Tunnel.

The United Kingdom is a constitutional monarchy and unitary state consisting of four countries: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. It is governed by a parliamentary system with its seat of government in London, the capital, but with three devolved national administrations of varying powers in Belfast, Cardiff and Edinburgh, the capitals of Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland respectively. The Channel Island bailiwicks of Jersey and Guernsey, and the Isle of Man are Crown Dependencies, which means they are constitutionally tied to the British monarch but are not part of the UK. The UK has fourteen overseas territories that are not constitutionally part of the UK. These territories are remnants of the British Empire, which at its height in 1922 encompassed almost a quarter of the world's land surface, the largest empire in history. British influence can still be observed in the language, culture and legal systems of many of its former colonies.

The UK is a developed country, with the world's sixth largest economy by nominal GDP and the sixth largest by purchasing power parity. It was the world's first industrialised country and the world's foremost power during the 19th and early 20th centuries, but the economic and social cost of two world wars and the decline of its empire in the latter half of the 20th century diminished its leading role in global affairs. The UK nevertheless remains a major power with strong economic, cultural, military, scientific and political influence. It is a recognised nuclear weapons state and has the third or fourth highest defence spending in the world. It is a Member State of the European Union, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, and is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, G8, G20, NATO, OECD, and the World Trade Organization.

Climate

The United Kingdom straddles the geographic mid-latitudes between 50-60 N from the equator. It is also positioned on the western seaboard of Eurasia, the world's largest land mass. These boundary conditions allow convergence between moist maritime air and dry continental air. In this area, the large temperature variation creates instability and this is a major factor that influences the often unsettled weather the country experiences, where many types of weather can be experienced in a single day.

Regional climates in the United Kingdom are influenced by the Atlantic Ocean and latitude. Northern Ireland, Wales and western parts of England and Scotland, being closest to the Atlantic, are generally the mildest, wettest and windiest regions of the UK, and temperature ranges here are seldom extreme. Eastern areas are drier, cooler, less windy and also experience the greatest daily and seasonal temperature variations. Northern areas are generally cooler, wetter and have a smaller temperature range than southern areas. Though the UK is mostly under the influence of the maritime tropical air mass from the south-west, different regions are more susceptible than others when different air masses affect the country: Northern Ireland and the west of Scotland are the most exposed to the maritime polar air mass which brings cool moist air; the east of Scotland and north-east England are more exposed to the continental polar air mass which brings cold dry air; the south and south-east of England are more exposed to the continental tropical air mass which brings warm dry air; Wales and the south-west of England are the most exposed to the maritime tropical air mass which brings warm moist air.

GDP

$2,149,000,000,000 (2009 est.)

Population

62,041,708 (2010 est.)

Overview of Higher Education

Approximately 1.8 million students are currently enrolled in the UK higher education system; about one third of young people go on to higher education at age 18 (with almost 50% of students in Scotland), and an increasing number of "mature" students are studying either full-time or part-time for university degrees. Higher education is a current policy priority for the government, with a target set to attract 50% of 18- to 30-year-olds to higher education by 2010.

Undergraduate degrees take three years to complete in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, while at Scottish universities they last four years. At the graduate level, a master's degree is normally earned in a single year, a research master's degree takes two years and a doctoral degree is often completed in three years.

Professional courses, such as medicine, veterinary medicine, law and teaching, usually are undertaken as five-year undergraduate degrees.

Number of Colleges, Universities, Technical Institutes

Number of Universities, University Colleges and Further Education Colleges: 282

Number of Higher Education Students

Number of UK students enrolled: 2,027,085

Number of Other EU students enrolled: 117,660

Number of Non-EU students enrolled: 251,310

Source: Higher Education Statistics Agency
Press release 144 - Students in Higher Education Institutions 2008/09

Contact Information

EducationUK
Web site: www.studyintheuk.org