Education System

Spanning the length of the country, our universities offer a diverse range of locations and learning experiences – from world-class cities to breathtaking coastal locations. As part of the world-renowned UK higher education system, Welsh universities offer quality higher education qualifications that are respected by employers and academics worldwide. In fact, 92% of graduates from Welsh universities found employment within 6 months of leaving one of our universities. Wales is also very proud of its high proportion of ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ research which makes our universities such exciting and dynamic places to study.

The Basics

Like their UK counterparts, higher education students in Wales are generally aged 18 or over, and have usually already achieved further education qualifications, such as A-levels, the International Baccalaureate, or an equivalent qualification from the UK or another country. Some will have completed a foundation or access course too.

Higher education is split into two levels:

  • Undergraduate programmes: include bachelors’ degrees, foundation degrees, higher national diplomas (HNDs) and more
  • Postgraduate programmes: include masters’ degrees, MBAs, PhDs, doctorates and more. Usually, you need an undergraduate qualification to enter a postgraduate programme.


International Students

In 2013-14, there were over 25,000 international students studying in Wales, from over 170 countries, making up around 13% of the student population. Across Wales, universities are working to ensure that international students have the best possible learning experience.

A range of support is on offer for international students to help with academic, social, and financial aspects of student life. Each university provides its own bespoke support package, but examples include: pre-departure briefings for students in their home country; ambassadors to help support new international students from the application process through to graduation; free airport welcome services; social events which are important for making friends and settling in to university life; English language and study skills support classes in order to build up confidence for classroom discussion; and events and trips to places of interest in the UK. Universities’ individual international offices can provide information about the support on offer.


Wales is part of a world-leading UK science base, which is second only to the United States of America (USA) for its share of global citations. More than three quarters of research from Wales’ universities is judged to be ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ according to the ‘Research Excellence Framework’ results of 2014.

Research at Wales’ universities has led to many ground-breaking discoveries; including Nobel Laureates and life sciences research, impressive work in the fields of environmental protection, and innovative advances in materials research and testing. Welsh universities also have long established relationships with some of the world’s leading companies from NASA and Hewlett-Packard, through to Rolls Royce and British Aerospace. This infographic provides an overview of how Welsh university research is having a transformational impact across all levels of society.

An independent study by Elsevier in 2013, International Comparative Performance of the Welsh Research Base, concluded that Welsh research is of high quality, and impressively, more than two-thirds of the top 1% highest cited articles globally come from Wales.