Who is London’s global university?

Well, it's University College London's marketing slogan. But what does the data say?

David Kernohan is Acting Editor of Wonkhe

I do still love twitter for the flashes of insight and humanity from people who inspire me. One account I love to follow is that of Elizabeth Gadd – I learn a lot from her astute professional and practitioner insight into the world of research policy (and especially research metrics) as it has a continued impact on researchers and the staff who support them.

This morning saw her ponder why UCL got to say it was “London’s Global University”.

She suggested I would know, and of course I don’t – off hand. I went to table 1 from the HESA Students record (and the combined 054 collection rather than 051 which is really only for time series). Here’s a quick plot of the proportion of non-uk versus UK domiciled students at all levels at providers in London.

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The chart is sorted by the size of the total student body – with the red bar from the top showing the proportion of non-UK students and the actual number in the tool tip.

As you can see, UCL does not have the highest proportion of international students of any provider in London – that honour goes to Hult International Business School, with 95.9 per cent of its student body from overseas. UCL has a respectable proportional showing at 49.1 per cent, but this is beaten by the University of the Arts (53.9%), Imperial College (53.9%), the LSE (67.8%), and the Royal College of Art (74.7%) to name just a few.

But UCL does have the largest number of students from outside of the UK – an amazing 20,170 in 2019-20. It if you look at just undergraduates, just post-graduates, just first years, or just full time students this dominance is clear.

So that’s why. UCL recruits more international students than any other provider – not just in London, but across the whole UK.

Bonus data

Where do UCL students come from?

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