Universities in London
So you want to study in London? So the obvious choice is the University of London, right? Or maybe if you’re studying at university in London, you’re automatically studying at the University of London, anyway?
Well, the study situation in London is a little complicated, so let’s take a look at what your options really are.
‘Study London’ on its website lists not 1, but 48 ‘universities, colleges and schools’ in London! The point about these institutions is that they are all fully accredited in the UK and are degree-granting bodies (not all degree-granting bodies have the word ‘university’ in their title). But this is not the complete list. You will also find a large number of colleges of education, many of which offer degree programmes, often in conjunction with a university. And then there are overseas and private universities – for example, there are a number of American universities with campuses in London.
But let’s go back a little and concentrate just on the 48. Maybe we can group them together and get a clearer picture of what exactly is on offer…
The University of London
The University of London is unique in the UK. It’s an association of a number of universities which are in many ways independent of one another. There are actually 18 colleges, and 9 specialist research institutes, and between them they are educating more than 160,000 students in London alone. One thing is clear: if you’re studying at one of these institutions, then technically you’re studying through the University of London; while if you’re studying somewhere not listed on the University of London website, well, you’re studying somewhere else! Of which, more later…
Some of the colleges and institutes are very specialised, and not likely to be of interest to KE students – at least not yet. But here are some which you might certainly wish to consider (grouped in the order in which they tend to appear in the ranking systems):
This group of colleges cover a very broad range of subjects:
- University College London (UCL)
- King’s College
- Queen Mary University of London
- Royal Holloway (note this university is just outside London – in an amazing building!)
- Goldsmiths (about 6km from the centre)
The following have a more restricted focus, but may well be of interest if you share their focus:
- Heythrop College (for theology and philosophy)
- London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) (mainly for economics, politics, sociology and law – a world-leader in its field)
- The Royal Veterinary College
- George’s (for medical sciences)
- SOAS (for studies relating to Asia, Africa and the Middle East)
In the artistic sphere, you might wish to consider:
- Courtauld Institute of Art (for art and architecture)
- Royal Academy of Music
- Royal Central School of Speech and Drama
You should be aware that the University also includes:
- University of London Institute in Paris (focusing on France and French studies)
- University of London International Programmes (for distance learning – with 50,000 students enrolled)
The colleges of the University of London generally have a ranking which ranges from good up to excellent. Check them out on one of the well-known tables, such as QS or the Times ranking.
How does the University of London actually work? To all intents and purposes, if you join one of these constituent colleges, you’ll be studying at an independent university. To start with, you apply not to the University of London, but to your chosen college – you can apply to more than one in London. Most of your teaching will be at your college, and each college has its own resources. However, you may sometimes join up with others for specialist teaching, and the University can also offer centralised facilities for all students. Then, when you get your degree, it will, in most cases, be a University of London degree issued by the central Senate House, the administrative heart of the University as a whole.
OK, that’s the University of London. So… What about the rest?
One university, which is completely independent, and not part of the University of London at all, is really prestigious, and you may well be considering it: Imperial College, formerly part of the University of London, but not any more. Focusing exclusively on science, medicine, engineering and business, Imperial is one of the universities which KE students visit if they’re interested in these fields.
Other universities, again not connected to the University of London, but which you might consider, include:
- Brunel (about 15km from the centre)
- Roehampton (about 10km from the centre)
- Middlesex (about 10km from the centre)
- University of the Arts
- Greenwich (about 5km from the centre)
- West London (about 10km from the centre)
- Kingston (about 15km from the centre)
- London South Bank
- Mary’s Twickenham (Catholic university about 15km from the centre)
- East London
- London Metropolitan
It’s worth noting that most of these universities are ranked below most of the University of London colleges. Those at the top of the list above are middle-ranking – those at the bottom are low-ranking. We would suggest that you aim for high- and middle-ranking universities.
And still there are more! Go to the Study London website for details: http://www.studylondon.ac.uk/universities.
Well, to come back to where we started: be careful – not all the universities in London are part of the University of London, and this means that they don’t automatically have the kind of reputation which you might be looking for. On the other hand, some of the others may not have such high entry standards, and might actually suit you better. The message is, as always: do your homework, ask for advice, and choose carefully. And if you want to find out more, see what these universities are really like – join a KE programme next summer!