Situated to the west of England, and across the sea from Northern Ireland, Wales is a perfect combination of incredible scenery, vibrant nightlife and fascinating culture. And this small nation is one of the most beautiful destinations in the entire world.
It is also a wonderful place to study. Because although Wales accounts for less than a tenth of the total area of the UK (covering just 20,779 square kilometers), it is home to eight superb universities. The oldest is the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, in Lampeter, which was founded in 1822 (making it one of the first in the whole of the UK!) and which is renowned for its world-leading research. Perhaps the best known is Cardiff University, situated in Wales’s capital city. This is a member of the prestigious Russell Group of UK universities, and counts international heads of state and leading politicians among its alumni.
Together, these Welsh universities deliver an exceptional quality of education. 92 per cent of their students find employment within just six months of graduating. And with over 56,000 undergraduate and postgraduate courses to choose from, it’s no wonder that over 25,000 international students choose Wales every year, whether you are looking for a city, town or more rural campus. And outside of your studies, there is an incredible country for you to explore.
Wales has breathtaking scenery like nowhere else, from its mountains and the world-famous valleys, to over 2,700 km of unspoiled coastline, you’re sure to find many sights to fall in love with. You’ll also experience some of the UK’s most historic landmarks, such as the stunning Pembroke Castle which dates from medieval times (and in fact, Wales is home to over 641 castles - more than any other European nation).
This safe and welcoming country is also home to some of the best nightlife the UK has to offer, and during your time here you’ll experience some amazing cocktail bars, craft breweries, buzzing clubs and world-class live music.
Wales is passionate about sport, and Rugby Union is the nation’s national game. Make no mistake - the game is hugely popular and everywhere you go, you’ll find committed supporters of one of the country’s 239 Rugby Union teams. By studying in Wales, you’ll have ample opportunity to watch a game in person, or have fun cheering along with a tournament in your local pub.
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Wales is also passionate about arts and culture and every year, there are all kinds of events and festivals for you to experience. The Hay festival in Powys is one of the biggest literary festivals in the world and if you’re a book lover, you’ll have the time of your life. Every year, the Green Man festival brings together the world’s best live bands and artists, for unbeatable concerts in the beautiful countryside of the Brecon Beacons. And you simply cannot miss Wales’s National Eisteddfod - considered to be the largest music and poetry festival in the whole of Europe. Moving to a new location every year, this spectacular festival can trace its roots back to 1176. Today it attracts over 150,000 people, who turn up to experience a packed and lively programme that celebrates every aspect of Welsh culture.
Visiting all of these events is easy, as Wales is extremely well connected. In fact. you can get moving for as little as £2 on a public transport system that also links you to visit the rest of the UK. As a 16-25 year old student, you'll also be eligible for discounted train travel if you buy a Young Person’s Railcard. This costs £30 and gives you a 30 per cent discount on trains across the entire UK network (so not just in Wales). You can find many more discounts in Wales with a National Union of Student (or NUS) card, which is free once you start your studies.
Once you’ve finished studying or exploring for the day, you can take in a classic Welsh pub and enjoy a meal and a drink with friends. There you can expect to pay around £3.50 for a pint of beer and pubs often serve a great range of inexpensive meals (but don’t worry if you don’t drink alcohol, as every bar will also offer a wide range of non-alcoholic drinks, as well as dishes that are suitable for all diets).
And should you wish to look further afield, then Cardiff airport has over fifty direct routes to help you explore the rest of Europe - and is connected via other major UK airports to destinations all over the world. That could be why so many people from other countries have made their home here, and why it’s so easy to find international cuisines and specialist ingredients at restaurants, supermarkets and food halls - all over the country.
In Wales, you can do all of this for less, as it’s an extremely affordable place to study. Average monthly living costs (without rent) in Cardiff are around £674 per person. For accommodation, you can expect to pay around £300 for a room in a shared house, and even less should you live outside the capital. A three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant will cost about £20 per person, with takeaway meals and other options costing a fraction of that price.
So it’s clear that Wales has something for everyone, including a unique cultural heritage. Making friends is easy, too, as English is spoken across Wales. But you’ll also get to learn the nation’s own language – Welsh. Most of all, you’ll experience a friendly 'croeso,' (that’s Welsh for “welcome”!) wherever you go.
Could all of this make Wales the perfect choice for you?