International students are heading to Wales for a world-class education! In 2015 over 11,000 international students from outside Europe enrolled on higher education courses in Wales. Today the student population in Wales is large and diverse; there are 9 universities and 15 further education colleges and institutions. In the 2013-2014 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, three Welsh universities are among the top 400 worldwide: Cardiff University, Aberystwyth University, and Bangor University.
Since 2005/06 the number of international students in Wales has increased by 73%. A further 400 international students are on part-time courses in Wales and over 1,000 students are taking a distance learning course with a Welsh university. (Article: Record numbers of international students choose Wales)
Wales recruits from over 120 countries with many students from China, India, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Hong Kong, Qatar, Libya and the US along with a large contingent of students from Canada.
Offering 12 higher education institutions, at 9 locations throughout Wales it offers the chance to be part of a unique and vibrant culture steeped in 3,000 years of history. Wales offers captivating and cosmopolitan cities, small market towns, universities by the sea, and universities on the edge of Snowdonia National Park and universities surrounded by castles.
Wales offers a number of the top research specializations in the UK including an award winning Film School, the leading Civil Engineering department, the leading Optometry & Vision Sciences department, the leading Architecture school, two of the top rated Psychology schools, one of the leading International Politics departments, one of the top Materials Technology departments, three of the top Theology and Religious Studies schools and a world renowned Institute of Biological and Environmental Research.
Also based in Wales are the national Music and Drama conservatoire of Wales, the leading “new university”, a Government Charter Mark holding university, one of the largest and most progressive library schools in Britain, two business schools that achieved a Chartered institute of Purchasing and Supply (CIPS) and a renowned Manufacturing Engineering Centre.
A wealth of collaborative research projects have recently been launched in Wales including The Wales Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience which combines the expertise and resources of Aberystwyth University, Bangor University and Swansea University. The Screen Academy of Wales merges the expertise of University of Glamorgan, University of Wales Newport, Cardiff University, Swansea Metropolitan University and Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Other collaborative research centres include The Wales Institute for Social and Economic Research Data and Methods (WISERD), The Wales Institute of Mathematical and Computational Sciences (WIMCS), The Low Carbon Research Institute (LCRI) and The Research Institute of Visual Computing (RIVIC).
Recently, Cardiff University launched three new multi-disciplinary research institutes; the Sustainable Places Research Institute, the Neurosciences and Mental Health Research Institute and the Cancer Stem Cell Research Institute.
In total Wales has over 30 centers of excellence offering cutting edge research initiatives that combine the expertise of education institutions with the world’s leading companies such as the new £30m Institute of Advanced Telecommunications and the new £50 Institute of Life Science, both based at Swansea University; and the collaborative research institutes the High Performance Computing Wales and the Health Modeling Centre.
Throughout higher education in Wales it is evident that research and teaching expertise from wide-ranging disciplines is being drawn together to tackle the demand for knowledge in some of the most prominent worldwide industries including Information & Communications Technology, Energy & Environment, Advanced Materials & Manufacturing, Life Sciences and Financial Services.
To look at just one of these industries – over the last decade, while other countries have talked about making the environment a priority, Wales has been actively placing it at the heart of its policies and working to preserve the landscape of Wales which defines it as a nation. Wales has set itself on an ambitious path of sustainable economic growth, fostering and promoting a sustainable technologies sector, which is truly innovative enabling Wales to become a showcase for leading edge technologies.
The real strengths of a higher education in Wales lie beyond its world class teaching and research, they are found in its superb and safe environment, cultural uniqueness and an enviable life style at a low cost which has led to its renowned international student experience.
Wales’ success in attracting international students from all around the world has been linked to its focus on students, with some of the best and most innovative international student support in the UK. Schemes such as Bangor University’s Buddying program, which is one of the largest of its kind in the UK, have proved extremely effective in ensuring student satisfaction. In addition, unique programs like Swansea University’s recent Welsh classes for international students offer a more diverse international student experience and help the integration of international and home students.
The University of South Wales has taken the top spot in both “student satisfaction” and “the best place to be” in the 2015 International Student Barometer. Overall for International Students, The 2014 National Student Survey (NSS), shows that in all categories relating to the academic student experience, satisfaction has either improved or stayed the same since 2013. The NSS also shows that overall satisfaction increased to 85% this year, with the vast majority of students in Wales happy with the quality of their higher education experience.
Alan Edwards, International Welfare Officer at Bangor University said, “Our universities recognize that the key to ensuring international students continue to choose Wales is about ensuring that the international student experience is the best in the Wales. The best ambassadors for Welsh education are the students who return to their countries telling others about their great experiences in both study and life in Wales. The award winning international student support teams in Wales are key to the increasing numbers of international students choosing Wales.”