The UK has an enviable reputation for graduate study; it is the second most popular destination for international graduate students after the USA. The UK hosts 13% of all international students at tertiary level, while the US hosts 21% according to the Institute of International Education (IEE). As the UK has 133 universities and the USA has over 1,700, this is no mean feat. 

Variety abroad
Graduate life in the UK is also very attractive to international students. The country does very well in the International Student Barometer, with over 90% saying they were satisfied with their time studying in the UK. For a small country, the UK offers a great variety of institutions to study at – from the metropolitan centres in London to the beauty and splendour of Scotland and many in between. 
International students make up over 40% of the graduate student population, however, this figure doesn’t include graduates from other EU countries. The UK really can make claim to having a very diverse graduate population, another great attraction according to Marston. In return international students help to increase the diversity of the UK population. “There are at least three institutions in the UK that have students from over 100 OECD countries,” Marston says. IEE figures show over 12% of international students come from China, 8% from India, and 5% from the USA
“International students are vital for the UK,” says Marston. “Firstly for their academic input at a Masters and PhD level. There are key subject areas, such as science and engineering that international students are keener to study than domestic students – so they provide vital academic input,” she says. 
Marston also says international students are crucial for the UK economy. “The fees they pay are vital for the universities, but they also bring money into local communities as they pay for their living costs.” 

A range of options
The UK offers a range of graduate options – from research-based courses to taught courses; one year, to two year. “It really depends what the student wants,” says Marston. “One-year programs can be very attractive, as they are very focussed and graduates can therefore enter the labour market very quickly. However, two years can offer more research opportunities. “When it comes to costs, Marston says they vary depending on the chosen subject area. “Sciences are more expensive due to the materials involved and business courses are also traditionally more expensive.” 
For scholarship details, Marston recommends the Education UK website where there are more options available for international students at graduate level as opposed to undergraduate level. The Education UK website contains details of the British Chevening Scholarship, Commonwealth Scholarship and Fellowship Plan, Royal Society Fellowships (for students from North America and Asia) and Scotland’s Saltire Scholarships. For details about university scholarships, it is best to check each university website. 
In March 2010 the British government announced it was investing £2.5 million in the UK’s first scholarship scheme designed to target, recruit and retain the world’s best research students called the Newton Scholarship. One hundred candidates wanting to study at postgraduate level in the UK will be given £25,000 each. At the launch, Lord Mandelson, who was then the business secretary, said: “This country is a world leader in research and postgraduate education. The Newton Scholarship scheme will bring the best minds from Britain and abroad together for our economy to utilise.”
International graduate students looking to top up their budgets are allowed to do 20 hours of paid work a week – and unlimited number of hours during the holidays. Living costs in the UK vary enormously depending on where the graduate is based. 

Visa application
Marston says the system for applying for student visas is being reformed, and that the turn around time in applying for a visa is good compared to the US and Australia. One development which is helping potential students is the growth of Visa Application Centres, for instance in India, which means students do not have to travel so far to apply for their visa. 

For More Information
Quality Assurance Agency An independent agency which reviews how individual universities in the UK meet their responsibilities for maintaining quality and standards. 
Universities UK (UUK) works with others to ensure rigorous and transparent arrangements for safeguarding quality and standards in UK higher education.
Education UK The British Council website for international students looking for courses, details about studying, or scholarships in Britain. 
UK Visas Details on how to apply for an international student visa