Study in Scotland – Why study in Scotland ?

Throughout the centuries, thousands of students have chosen to study in Scotland because of its long history of educational excellence. Dating back to the fifteenth century, universities were established at St Andrew’s (1413), Glasgow (1451) and Aberdeen (1495), with Edinburgh joining the so-called “Ancients” in 1582.

Over time, the number of people who wanted to study in Scotland expanded and another 11 universities were set up. At present, it is possible to study over 450 courses at  undergraduate level.

International students currently make up 21 percent of the student communities in Scotland. An impressive 94% of international students recommend their university and are happy that they chose to study in Scotland. Scottish universities offer cutting-edge technology, modern facilities, and amazing libraries, as well as outstanding academics. 

When you study in Scotland you will also find yourself surrounded by the landscape immortalised in Hollywood films. Scotland offers mountains and lochs, castles and fields of flowering heather, herds of highland cattle, beaches and rivers. It is wild, unique and mesmerising.

Study in Scotland – Choosing a university

If you study in Scotland, you are investing in your career and will certainly reap the economic benefits further on down the road. Scottish universities have the UK’s highest rates of graduate employment six months after graduation. 

When deciding where to apply to study in Scotland one of the factors that could influence your final choice is the ranking of the university. The table, below, provides information on rankings of the top 10 Scottish universities.


Study in Scotland – popular university rankings

Scotland Rank 2024 QS World University Rank 2024 University City/town
1  22 University of Edinburgh Edinburgh
2  76 University of Glasgow Glasgow
3  95 University of St Andrews St Andrews
4   208 University of Aberdeen Aberdeen
5  235 Heriot-Watt University Edinburgh
6  276 University of Strathclyde Strathclyde
7 431 University of Stirling Stirling
8  441 University of Dundee Dundee
9  801-850 Edinburgh Napier University Edinburgh
10  501 University of the West of Scotland Paisley
NB: Edinburgh and Glasgow are both members of the Russell Group, the UK’s most prestigious research universities.

Study in Scotland – choosing a course

When you study in Scotland your undergraduate course will run for four years. If you intend to study in Scotland only for a traditional Master’s (postgraduate) degree, this takes around 12 months to complete.

Note that the four Ancients universities, together with Dundee grant Master’s degrees to students who have done their first degree in the Arts. You will therefore receive an MA rather than the usual BA.

Popular courses to study in Scotland

Among the most popular courses for international students who apply to study in Scotland are:

  • Medicine
  • Life sciences
  • Business and management
  • STEM subjects
  • Engineering
  • Pharmacology
  • Dentistry
  • Biological sciences
  • Veterinary medicine
  • Computer science
  • Nursing

In addition, certain universities have an outstanding reputation for particular courses.

Glasgow is known for its forensic sciences.

Aberdeen for modern languages and marine ecology. 

Edinburgh for law, physics, and psychology. 

Dundee for STEM subjects.

St Andrew’s for international relations, physics and mathematics.

Study Medicine in Scotland

Medicine is an extremely popular course and Scotland enjoys an excellent reputation in this field.

There are five universities to choose from to study medicine in Scotland:

If you wish to take a specialised medical degree, there are many other institutions offering degrees such as Immunology and Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Immunology, or Radiotherapy and Oncology, to name a few. Elab’s programs are designed to help you choose the right course with the help of an experienced consultant.  

Veterinary science

Veterinary medicine is taught at seven institutions:


Dentistry degrees – Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS) – are available at undergraduate level and run for five years at Glasgow and Dundee University. The University of Aberdeen offers graduate-entry dentistry courses.

To study medicine in Scotland you need to pass your secondary school final exams with high grades in the following subjects: chemistry and either biology, physics or mathematics. 

In addition, you will need to sit the UCAT entrance exam, and will normally be asked to attend a face-to-face or online interview. Elab’s programs will prepare you for these.

Postgraduate studies

If you want to study in Scotland at postgraduate level you are in good company. Scottish research is highly rated, with 86 percent of studies having an “outstanding impact”. When measured relative to GDP, Scotland’s research is the strongest in the world.

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the broad range of choices open to you to study in Scotlandcall us here at Elab. We will talk you through the possibilities, narrow down options, and help you find the best universities and courses for you. Remember, you will study in Scotland for four or more years, so it’s also important to find the ideal location since it will become your home.

For further information on the cities and towns of Scotland, contact us at Elab and we will match your preferences with the perfect university location.

Study in Scotland – the application process

There are various items to consider when applying to study in Scotland.

Course Requirements

The course requirements to study in Scotland vary from department to department and university to university. These need to be checked before applying.

Universities will look at a combination of your exam grades and the subjects you have covered at school. Universities will also convert your national qualifications into UCAS Tariff points.

If you wish to apply for Science and Engineering undergraduate courses at the University of Edinburgh, you will be expected to sit an entrance examination. Elab helps students to prepare for the exam .

Study in Scotland – How to apply

Applications to study in Scotland at undergraduate level are processed through UCAS, the UK‘s central admissions system. You can apply to five universities or courses.

Deadlines for applications depend on the course, with the medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science courses closing on 15 October.  All other courses remaining open until 15 January. Elab will confirm all this with you during the application process depending on your preferences.

Postgraduate students normally apply to individual universities, whose deadlines either vary or remain open until every place has been filled. Check with Elab for up-to-date information.

To study in Scotland at undergraduate level, you will be expected to pay a fee and provide some or all of the following documents:

  • ID documents
  • Transcripts of your grades
  • A Personal Statement
  • A portfolio of your work (for artfashion, fine arts, etc)
  • One or more academic references
  • A completed application form

English language proficiency

You will need to provide proof of language proficiency and pass your TOEFL or the CAE  and CPE at required levels for that intake.

UCAS Clearing

If you are not offered a place to study in Scotland, do not despair! You can use UCAS Clearing which runs from July before universities open. You can see what courses still have available places and submit further applications. Not all universities and not all courses are available through Clearing. 

Once you have received a reply and been offered a place, you are ready to move on to the next stage of studying in Scotland, by applying for your student visa.

Visa Requirements

To study in Scotland, you will have to apply for a Tier 4 student visa, which should be done from your home country. Contact Elab for further information.

Postgraduate applications to study in Scotland

Postgraduate applications are usually managed by individual universities, which set their own deadlines, or through the UCAS Postgraduate website.

 If you wish to study in Scotland at a conservatoire, you will need to submit an application through CUKAS, the official UK website for conservatoires.

Study in Scotland – costs

When considering the total cost to study in Scotland there are various costs to take into account.

Tuition fees to study in Scotland

After Brexit, EU students wanting to study in Scotland are no longer eligible for student loans for their tuition fees. If not “pre-settled”, they are now classified as international students for the purposes of tuition fees. As a result, you can expect to pay between 12,000 and 29,000 euros a year at undergraduate level and 18,000-57,000 for postgraduate courses – depending on your course. 

Individual universities set their own fees and, as a rule of thumb, the more prestigious the university, the higher the fee.

Financial help

Universities and banks have stepped into the breach and many offer scholarships and bursaries, or affordable student loans, to cover the cost of tuition fees. 

If you would like to learn more about scholarships to study in Scotland, contact Elab and we will advise you on what you can apply for.

Cost of living

The cost of living at universities in Scotland varies from city to city and town to town. Overall, the costs of studying in Scotland are 20 percent lower than living expenses in London, and 10 percent cheaper than in the rest of the UK.

As a rough guide, you need around £1000 a month to cover your costs , the largest part of which is the £425-675 you will have to spend on accommodation. 

Accommodation fees in Scotland

The rent you pay will vary according to where you decide to apply. You have many choices in Scotland – from the peace and glorious scenery of the Highlands to the riches of the lively capital.  When you study in Scotland you should budget around £430 a month for a one-bedroom flat in Dundee. as opposed to £670 for comparable accommodation in Edinburgh. A single room at a student residence in Glasgow will cost around £150 a week while the University of Aberdeen’s student housing costs are from £92-£156 a week.

Remember that you are entitled to work 20 hours a week during term-time under the terms of your Tier 4 student visa to help finance your studies and get some work experience.

Study in Scotland – other useful information

  • Students who come to study in Scotland soon become involved in its long and proud cultural history. Its kilts and Highland Games,  the Edinburgh Festival, and  piping-in of the haggis on Burns Night are famous the world over. New Year’s Eve, known as Hogmanay, is a lively communal celebration with crowds spilling onto the streets and a sky ablaze with fireworks.
  • Avoid Loch Ness during the tourist season and go to Loch Morar, home to the three-humped monster Morag, which is said to live in this 1000 foot deep lake.
  • Respect Scottish traditions while studying in Scotland and remember that folklore is part of Scottish culture and the country’s national animal is the unicorn. While studying in Scotland, you should explore the country’s myths and legends. For example, if fairies interest you, then why not visit the sculpture of the kelpies, spirit shape-shifters who live in the lochs, situated just outside Falkirk? 
  • Over 90 per cent of the population of Scotland lives on 2 per cent of the land – which is why you can enjoy the country’s landscapes and islands without being  part of a crowd. Take advantage of your university years to see as much of this amazing country as you can.
  • Scottish cuisine is not all haggis and deep friend Mars bars. You will find international restaurants, as well as local produce and delicacies, wherever you may live.
  • Introduction
  • Diagnostics
  • Personal Profile Map
  • Research
  • University Report
  • Final application choices
  • Application process plan
  • Mentor Program
  • Exam and Interview prep
  • Document completion
  • Application portal setup
  • Submission
  • Acceptance
  • Pre-departure procedures
  • Finances
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