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The Six Most Employable Degrees in the United Kingdom for International Students

A degree from a UK university degree boosts your employment chances manifold, thanks to the reputation of the country’s education system. Further, every UK university runs its dedicated career development and placement cells to assist students to find part-time jobs, internships as well as full-time employment opportunities. Considering the dedicated approach of higher education institutions to the career prospects of the students, it comes as no surprise that most UK graduates get into employment or further studies within six months of completing their course.

UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) regulations permit international students studying in the UK on Tier-4 (General) student visa at bachelor’s (undergraduate or UG) level or higher up to 20 hours per week during the semester and 40 hours per week during vacation. The new Graduate Route also provisions two years of post-study work in the UK for students who complete their courses at UG level or above. STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) PhD students get an additional year, making the total stay-back period three years.

The UK houses one of the most advanced and lucrative job markets in the world and graduates will be able to thrive and excel in their career, once they complete their studies. So, which are the best courses in the UK in terms of graduate employment rate? The following discussion focuses on six major course streams, the top universities for the same as well potential employment chances offered in those sectors.


Health Sciences

Such degrees essentially focus on the science behind medicines and how the human body responds to the application of such substances. Two main subcategories exist within this broad classification: Medicine and Dentistry. The two sectors report a 99.4% graduate employment rate in the year 2020.

For entry to medical degrees at the undergraduate level, an IELTS score of 7.0 (with no band less than 6.5) or equivalent is required for international students. Some medical schools may conduct the UK Clinical Aptitude Test (UKCAT) to assess your reasoning, analytical abilities and judgement capabilities. Top UK universities for medical studies include University of Aberdeen (School of Medicine), University of Birmingham (School of Medicine), University of Bristol (Faculty of Medicine) and University of Central Lancashire Medical School.

Medical students can choose roles like nursing, midwifery, paramedics, science liaisons, research scientists as well as lecturing. Potential employers for graduates in this field include NHS (National Health Service), HSC (Health and Social Care) Northern Ireland, clinical trial facilities and private healthcare organisations. The average salary for entry-level adult nurses is reported as £24,214 rising to £30,112 on Band 5.

The same IELTS score or equivalent is required for entry into a course like Bachelor of Dental Surgery (BDS). However, specific requirements may vary slightly depending on your university choice and UKCAT might be applicable in some cases. HESA and DLHE (Higher Education Statistics Agency, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education) report an average starting salary of £31,000 for graduates in this sector and typical career paths include dental hygienists, therapists as well as technicians.


Veterinary Science

A typical degree in this stream covers areas like microbiology, pathology, physiology, anatomy and most importantly animal husbandry. Bear in mind that some veterinary courses last up to five years and since the seats are limited, admission is highly competitive. Most universities demand an IELTS score of 7.0 (with no band less than 6.5) or equivalent for international students. The most sought after institutions for higher studies in this field include University of Edinburgh, University of Liverpool, University of Cambridge, University of Bristol and University of Surrey.

The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide reports an average starting salary of £28,000 for professionals in this field. Major employers include zoos, animal hospitals, charities and welfare societies, governmental agencies and pharmaceutical corporations. 95.9% of graduates are employed within the first six months of course completion.



This sector focuses on an in-depth understanding of the aspects of teaching as well as lecturing viz. philosophy and creativity as well as history and sociology to some extent. 94.4% of UK graduates in this field find employment soon after the course. The typical English language requirement for foreign students is IELTS 6.0 (with no component less than 5.5) or equivalent. Students mainly prefer Anglia Ruskin University, UWE Bristol, University of Dundee, University of Reading and University of Edinburgh for higher studies in education.

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HESA reports an average starting salary of £22,500 for teaching professionals. To become a teacher in England, you must obtain a Qualified Teacher Status (QTS) by following a programme of Initial Teacher Training (ITT) after obtaining a degree. The Department of Education (DfE) offers complete assistance to prospective candidates who want to pursue a career in this field.


Engineering and Architecture

Starting from the three core branches of civil, chemical, mechanical and electrical engineering, this sector evolved into an ever-expanding branch of knowledge with numerous beneficial applications in our everyday lives. The standard engineering degree (B.Eng) lasts three years while a master's level course (MS) can be of one to two years. Generally speaking, universities expect IELTS 7.0 (with no band less than 6.5) in terms of English expertise.

The Guardian University Guide 2021 ranks University of Southampton for Civil Engineering, University of Cambridge for Chemical Engineering, University of Southampton for Electrical/Electronic Engineering and Imperial College London for Mechanical Engineering in the top-most positions. The average salary for starting professionals vary between £20,000 to £28,000.

HESA reports an average starting salary of £20,000 for architecture graduates and 90.1% of the students to find a job within 6 months for course completion. University of Nottingham, Queen's University Belfast and University of Strathclyde are recognised as top universities in the UK for architecture studies.


Law Courses

A UK law degree acts as a stepping stone to many professional roles including, but not limited to solicitors, barristers, criminologists and journalists. IELTS proficiency at 6.5 (with no band less than 6.0) or equivalent is expected by most UK universities. University of Oxford, University of Glasgow, University of Durham, University of Leeds and University of Aberdeen are popular choices amongst international students for this particular genre.

Studies reveal that a Masters in Law (e.g. LLM) significantly enhances your career prospects as it enables you to move into top roles in corporations as well as managerial positions in banking, business and research organisations. This field reports a graduate employment rate of 89.9% with an entry-level salary of £18,720 for professionals.



An amalgamation of the principles of biological sciences into modern technological practices, Biotechnology focuses on the production of antibiotics, chemicals and genetically modified crops for the advancement of the human race. This field overlaps with environmental engineering, food sciences, cell biology, immunology and chemical engineering. HESA reports that 89.2% of biotechnology graduates find employment or move into further education within six months of completing the course.

The starting salary ranges between £18,000 and £24,000, which increments to £25,000 and above for experienced professionals. Candidates in this sector mainly find employment in genetic engineering firms, food manufacturing industries, pharmaceutical and chemical companies as well as research organisations. IELTS 6.5 with no band less than 6.0 is expected for admission, and top university choices include University of Portsmouth, University of York, University of Exeter as well as University of Bristol.

© 2021 AHZ Associates

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