UCL News


Press cutting: The world's your oyster

5 December 2006

The number of overseas students studying in UK universities reached 344,335 last year, according to the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

Their countries of origin range from developing and former Commonwealth countries to Europe, the US and the Russian Federation. It is a cultural melting pot that broadens and enriches the academic experience.

At UCL a third of students are from overseas, and more than 100 nationalities are represented with China making up the biggest single cultural group. They are studying social sciences and humanities mainly but science and engineering are increasingly popular.

The growth in international numbers has been exponential: 10 years ago UCL had just 50 students from China; today there are 850. The US contributes 590 students and numbers from Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and Russia are rising steadily.

Why are they here? "The UK is still seen to be offering good quality education at all levels," says Mark Pickerill [UCL Registry]. "As an increasingly cosmopolitan society if you come to the UK from any part of the world you are made to feel welcome. This is particularly true of central London." …

In their own words

Rakhim Mirsaev is a third-year student at UCL, studying economics and business with eastern European languages.

Mirsaev is from Kazakhstan, the oil rich former communist state bordering on the Caspian Sea. The country has big ambitions, a burgeoning multinational business sector and a new programme to fund its most promising students through top universities in the UK and US.

Mirsaev has been in London for four years and spent the first two at a private college taking A-levels in maths, chemistry and physics. UCL has 15 Kazakh students with 20 more taking a foundation to higher education programme.

Mirsaev came to the UK several years before state scholarships were available. He is paying his way and earns money from part-time work such as maths tutoring.

What does he like about academic life over here? "I love London and I enjoy the study and life balance in the UK because I don't want to be studying 24/7. It gives me space to develop as a person."

Mirsaev believes being part of a campus where one in three students are international adds a valuable dimension to the academic experience. He advises other Kazakhstan students here to "go about and get involved with other people; join clubs and societies. And make the first step - introduce yourself. Get into student life and you will feel at home." …

Stephen Hoare, 'The Guardian'