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Thursday 25th September 2015

Our new research has revealed that one in ten current world leaders are UK alumni. 

Of all Heads of State who studied at universities abroad, 32 per cent attended universities in the UK - a close second to the 34 per cent who've studied in the US. But when measured as a proportion of total students in each country, the UK is ten times more likely to produce a world leader – UK universities produces one world leader per fifty thousand graduates, whereas the US produces one per five hundred thousand.

Notable alumni from UK universities include the Australian prime minister Tony Abbott, Queen Margrethe II of Denmark, and Hassan Rouhani, the Iranian president.

Other celebrated alumni of the UK include former US President Bill Clinton, co-founder of LinkedIn Reid Hoffman, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Prize for Literature winner Wole Soyinka, designer Jimmy Choo, Olympic gold medallist Annette Salmeen, actress Parineeti Chopra, and business magnate Zhang Xin.

Professor Rebecca Hughes, the British Council’s Head of Education, commented:  

"It's a great credit to the UK that our relatively small HE sector has managed to educate one in ten of the current leaders of the world. Having so many Heads of State spend part of their most formative years learning about and being part of UK culture is a fine example of how the UK's higher education sector is a long-term asset, not just locally, but internationally.” 

“However, twenty or thirty years ago, when many of these leaders were considering where to study, the competition between countries to attract them wasn't anything like as fierce as it is now. The UK needs to work harder than ever to attract the next generation of world leaders. As higher education internationalises and technology makes new forms of learning ever more accessible, traditional paths to power are changing rapidly. If we want studying in the UK to remain on that path, we must reach out and celebrate our millions of alumni from around the world. The UK sector and government needs to recognise that hosting a student is more than just someone spending a few years living here, it's the start of a life-long relationship."

This week saw the launch of our Education UK Alumni Awards, a new campaign that seeks to celebrate the achievements of exceptional international alumni, and inspire the next generation of students to study in the UK. Finalists, to be announced in 2015, will become part of a new international UK Alumni Award Network, and winners will be invited to the UK to connect with government and industry leaders. 

For further information about the Education UK Alumni Campaign please visit the website:

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