Press Release: The UK remains the most popular higher education destination for Thai students

The following is a press release from the British Council. Their thoughts and opinions are their own.

The UK puts the health of students and staff at the heart of decisions whilst making sure high-quality teaching continues. The UK universities work to ensure their courses help students achieve their academic goals, regardless of the mode of delivery.

  • Six measures have been taken to reassure the confidence of the international students to study in the UK: student support during the coronavirus quarantine, a special financial relief programme, support for mental health and wellbeing, access to public health services, access to COVID testing, and access to vaccines.
  • The top five most popular courses among Thai students in the UK are business management (60%), law (10%), engineering and technology (6%), social studies (5%), and creative arts and design (3%).    

Bangkok, 17 February 2021 — The British Council and the British Embassy in Bangkok shared the latest statistics on Thai higher education students studying in the UK. From a total of 15,457 Thai students choosing to study in English-speaking countries, 6,880 are studying in the UK. The top five most popular subjects among Thai students in the UK are business management (60%), law (10%), engineering and technology (6%), social studies (5%), followed by creative arts and design (3%).

The six measures are introduced to ensure the health and safety of the international students studying in the UK: 1) student support during the coronavirus quarantine, 2) a special financial relief programme, 3) support for mental health and wellbeing, 4) access to public health services, 5) convenient access to COVID testing, and 6) access to COVID-19 vaccines on the same basis as other UK citizens. The British Council’s scholarships are introduced to support the students to further their education in the UK – GREAT scholarships and Women in STEM scholarships.

“The British Council is an international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We build connections, understanding, and trust between people in the UK and Thailand through arts and culture, education and the English language said Helga Stellmacher, Director of the British Council in Thailand. “The UK’s academic reputation is world-renowned. According to the recent Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2021, two universities out of the UK’s world-class higher education institutions nationwide are listed in the Top 10, including Oxford University as the world’s number 1 institution, seven others in the Top 50, and an additional 26 universities in the world’s Top 200. Quality is government-guaranteed. The UK’s 162 higher education institutions are all included in a rigorous, state-approved quality assurance programme.

Alexandra McKenzie, Deputy Ambassador, the British Embassy Bangkok, said “Despite the challenges facing the world because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the UK continues to be overwhelmingly in favour of international students joining UK universities. We are taking a close look at the situation and plan to react where necessary with measures for the benefit of all international students furthering their studies in the UK. The six key measures are as follows:

  1. Food and essentials while self-isolation

The UK government is working closely with every university in the UK to supply food as well as other necessities and medication to self-isolated students. There are qualified staff in place to provide students with updates and consultations concerning COVID-19.

  1. Special student support

Universities’ student support and welfare teams are always available to provide vulnerable students with advice and special care. In specific cases, immediate hardship funding can also be made available by universities for students in need. Support might include help for international students facing additional costs arising from having to maintain accommodation in more than one location or assistance to help students access teaching remotely.

  1. Support for mental health and wellbeing

Onboarding activities will be available for all students to promote positive interactions and relationships as long as they comply with strict public health measures and operate safely during the COVID-19 outbreak. In many universities, the international buddy schemes pairs international students with the aim of creating better relationships, while facilitating the sharing of ideas, and circulating useful advice among participants.

  1. Access to public health services

All international students have access to public health services under the UK’s NHS programme, which includes online and emergency services.

  1. Access to COVID-19 testing

After following the correct arrivals procedure, students should follow instructions on ongoing asymptomatic testing as set out by universities. The ambition is to work with all universities to continue to build testing provision at their institutions, including the use of lateral flow devices (LFDs).

  1. Access to COVID-19 vaccines

International students who reside in the UK and have registered with a local GP will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccination on the same basis as other UK citizens.

Ms. Alexandra continued, “Last year, the UK introduced a new Graduate Route that provides a period of two years for undergraduate or master’s students to stay in the UK to work or look for work after they have completed their degree in the UK. International doctoral graduates will be able to stay in the UK for three years after completion of their studies. International students studying by distance/blended learning remain eligible to apply for the Graduate Route as long as they complete their final term in the UK”

“In addition, under the Student Route, international students can apply for a newly improved student visa six months before the course start date. After graduation, those eligible will also be able to apply for the Graduate Route. All these initiatives are meant to promote cultural diversity, and a multicultural learning and working environment in the UK, to which international students contribute substantially. The UK is expected to attract as many as 600,000 international students by 2030,” said Ms. Alexandra.

Uraiwan Samolee, Head of Education Services, the British Council, pointed out that the UK remains the most popular destination for Thai higher education students. “In the academic year 2018/2019, there were 6,880 Thai university students in the UK, which represents 45% of the total 15,457 Thai students furthering their studies in English speaking countries. The US was in second place with 5,451 students (35%) followed by Australia 2,528 (16%), and Canada 598 (4%). Statistics show that the top five most popular subjects among Thai students in the UK are business management (60%), law (10%), engineering and technology (6%), social studies (5%), and creative arts and design (3%).” added Ms. Uraiwan.

“We still believe that the UK remains the number one higher education destination for Thai students despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The UK’s academic and research are world-class. All universities are working hard to welcome international students and have action procedures in place to keep students, staff, and local communities safe. This year, there are 28 GREAT Scholarships for master’s degree students, with a minimum approximate scholarship value of 412,000 baht each and more than 11,500,000 baht available in total. Additionally, we introduced the first Women in STEM scholarships for South East Asia countries; including Thailand. This new scheme is aimed at supporting women who wish to pursue their master’s degrees in UK universities in areas related to Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM). This ambitious scholarship scheme includes tuition fees, monthly stipend, travel costs, visa and health coverage fees. The scholarship is also open to women with dependents to apply and contains a provision for scholars that might need a short pre-sessional English course to achieve the language level needed to undergo their studies.

“In the meantime, the prospective students who are interested in furthering their studies in the UK should plan and prepare by keeping up to date with course details and university updates. There are a number of scholarships introduced this year as well as the free online course for you to experience from home. You should also keep up to date on the latest news from universities and the UK government as well as changes in international travel requirements,” said Ms. Uraiwan.

The British Council has recently hosted a press conference on ‘Get Ready for Study UK 2021’ at the British Council Siam Square, Wittayakit building Bangkok. For more information, visit or, or follow ‘British Council Thailand’ Facebook page.

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