When you think of educational institutions in the UK, your mind probably conjures up images of Hogwarts. Although the Harry Potter movies were actually filmed at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, there are in fact a lot of universities around the country with historic architecture that’s every bit as stunning. If you’ve ever dreamed of studying in medieval libraries, surrounded by antique leather-bound books, take a look at our guide to the six most beautiful universities in Britain.
6. University of Buckingham
The University of Buckingham is the oldest of Britain’s five private universities, and it’s a pearl that many Brits don’t even know about. The campus is located in the town of Buckingham, which has a population of just 12,000, giving students a feel for life in rural England. While the university isn’t as old as most in the UK, some of the buildings in use are centuries old, and the idyllic campus even has a river running through it. Students can complete degrees in two years, and the university tops UK rankings in many areas, like student satisfaction.
5. University of Glasgow
Sitting on the banks of the River Kelvin, the University of Glasgow is the the top university in Scotland’s biggest city. Founded in 1451, it boasts numerous well-known alumni, including the inventor of the television John Logie Baird and world-famous economist Adam Smith. Glasgow has one of the most beautiful city centres in the UK and is famous for the locals’ sense of humor and love of alcohol. Be careful: unlike the rest of the UK, most degrees in Scotland last four years, not three.
4. Durham University
Situated in the north-east of England, the historic city of Durham houses a one-thousand-year-old castle, a cathedral, and one of Britain’s top universities. The university actually has a college located in the castle, making it the oldest inhabited university building in the world. Durham is a member of the prestigious Russel Group (an organisation representing the best universities in the UK), and it consistently ranks among the best providers of higher education in Britain.
3. Oxford University
One half of the fabled Oxbridge universities, Oxford is rightly regarded as one of the world’s top universities and has produced 65 nobel laureates. Not only is the university famed for its academic excellence, it is also the oldest university in the United Kingdom (founded before 1167), and its presence dominates the beautiful city of Oxford. Walking around the cobbled alleyways of the city, you can imagine yourself being transported a thousand years into the past.
2. University of Cambridge
Established in 1209 by a breakaway group of Oxford scholars, the University of Cambridge is widely regarded as the UK’s top seat of tertiary education. Like Oxford, the city is dominated by its historic architecture, with the picturesque River Cam bringing a peaceful aura to its surroundings. Cambridge’s alumni list reads like a who’s who of modern scientific history, with Charles Darwin, Alan Turing, Stephen Hawking, and Isaac Newton among its ex-students. Cambridge is popular as a day-trip destination for tourists in London, and if you spend a few hours walking around the city, you’ll soon see why.
1. Royal Holloway, University of London
Situated just outside London (and very close to Heathrow Airport), Royal Holloway boasts one of the most beautiful university campuses in the world. Surrounded by parkland, the Founder’s Building was completed in 1881 and both the interior and exterior of it are absolutely stunning. The college forms part of the University of London, although most Brits think of each college as separate universities in their own right. Some students complain that the closest village Egham is a bit boring, but the college is not far from Windsor, a beautiful town steeped in royal history.
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are numerous other beautiful university campuses around the UK – some modern, some centuries old. What do you think about our list? Is Royal Holloway the rightful number one? Write your thoughts below.