Studying in the United Kingdom:
7 Top Universities in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland

Continuing our blog series on studying in the United Kingdom (UK), we now turn our focus to Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland!

Each is known for staggering natural beauty, dramatic architecture, and unique culture and history. These countries offer international students extraordinary study abroad opportunities. If you’re thinking about studying in the UK at a university outside of England, here are seven that should definitely be on your radar!


The 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.

University of Strathclyde

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.

University of Stirling

University of Aberdeen International Study Centre

As the UK’s fifth-oldest university, the University of Aberdeen has been offering life-changing learning opportunities for more than 525 years. Today, it adds to this rich heritage with modern facilities and a 21st-century outlook. Represented by 130 nationalities, the university has a strong international community and is committed to equality and diversity. Aberdeen strives to be one of the world’s top research-intensive universities. Associated with five Nobel Prize winners, it’s known for learning and research excellence. Students at Aberdeen benefit from a personalized experience and flexible learning.

Read: “What International Students Need to Know About Studying in the UK”

Aberdeen, on the northeast coast, is Scotland’s third most populous city. For history lovers, the university’s International Study Centre is in the heart of King’s College Campus, which combines incredible architecture with state-of-the-art technology. It’s also a stop on the Old Aberdeen Trail, a walking route that connects 17 historical buildings, monuments, and landmarks in Old Aberdeen.

University of Aberdeen


Swansea University

Swansea University has been at the cutting edge of research and innovation since 1920. It has a long history of working with business and industry, but today its world-class research has a much broader impact across the health, wealth, culture, and well-being of society. The university has achieved an extraordinary level of success in recent years, and its research activity exceeds that of many larger universities. Yet, this has not compromised the friendly and relaxed atmosphere that has always characterized the “Swansea experience.” 

Read: “School Spotlight: Swansea University”

If you love being close to water, Swansea University is the place for you. Its two campuses, Singleton Park and Bay Campus are at either end of Swansea’s stunning waterfront. Green parkland and botanical gardens surround Singleton Park, and Bay Campus is on the beautiful eastern approach into Swansea. The city is also home to the National Waterfront Museum, an indoor market, and several Welsh-Italian ice cream parlours!

Swansea University campus

Cardiff University (Study Group)

Cardiff University is internationally recognized for the quality and impact of its research. As a member of the Russell Group, one of the UK’s 24 elite research-intensive universities, it has a strong community of academics and researchers, producing world-leading, globally focused research. Students have access to advanced equipment, modern sports facilities, and one of the UK’s best-rated students’ unions. Cardiff students are encouraged to participate in societies, events, and volunteering, developing skills that will serve them throughout their lives. The university is committed to promoting and supporting equality and celebrates diversity in all its forms. 

The university is in Cardiff, the capital of Wales—one of the UK’s most affordable cities for students. You’re also within easy reach of Cardiff Bay Barrage. With its stunning views overlooking the Severn Estuary, it’s the ideal spot for a bike ride or a walk. Don’t forget to pay a visit to Cardiff Castle, home to more than 2,000 years of history!

Cardiff University campus

University of South Wales

At the University of South Wales, it’s all about being bold, independent, and fulfilling potential. The university is renowned for its partnerships with major employers. Its industry connections and emphasis on equipping students with real-world experiences make its graduates among the most employable in the UK. An impressive 95% of graduates work or go on to further study within six months of graduation. Above all, the University of South Wales strives to stay true to its core values of being professional, responsive, inspiring, and creative.

South Wales is a part of Wales that combines the very best of the UK: vibrant city life, lush countryside, and a beautiful coastline. There are several campuses scattered across this part of Wales, and all are within easy reach of one another. The Cardiff campus is conveniently located in the heart of the capital. Newport is also ideal for city lovers, and commands a beautiful view over the River Usk. However, if you prefer green open spaces, Treforest and Glyntaff in Pontypridd are the campuses for you!

University of South Wales

Northern Ireland

Queen’s University Belfast Study Centre

Start something amazing at Queen’s University Belfast, one of the UK’s leading universities. Known for its history, research, and world-class education, Queen’s is an incredible place to study. Queen’s was founded by Queen Victoria in 1845, making it the ninth-oldest university in the UK—and it has shaped a better world ever since. Part of the Russell Group, Queen’s combines proven excellence in research and education with a progressive and student-centric ethos.

The university is in the heart of Belfast—a modern capital city known for its friendly locals, vibrant culture, and exciting social scene. Belfast is safe, compact, and easy to explore on foot or bicycle, making it ideal for international students. With the countryside almost at your doorstep, nature lovers will also enjoy calling Belfast home.

Queen's University Belfast

Wherever you decide to study in the UK, you are guaranteed an unforgettable experience that will set you up for success for the next chapter in your life and beyond. Stay tuned for the next post in our Studying in the United Kingdom series: an exploration of the top universities in South East England!

Ready to go? Start exploring your options to study in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland on ApplyBoard!