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Famous alumni from UK universities

Alumni from UK universities are well known globally. From scientists to politicians, and comedians to musicians institutions in the UK have produced graduates may inspire you. We take a look at some notable alumni.

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The UK is recognised around the world for its prestigious universities and the high quality of education on offer. In fact, these institutions have been a stepping stone for many famous alumni who are widely celebrated for their careers in comedy, acting, politics, sport, science, journalism and more. In this article, we look at some of these famous figures including where and what they studied in the UK to get you feeling inspired to research universities and start your own journey. Sometimes it just takes seeing what other people have studied to figure out your own next steps.


University of Bristol

We kick off our list with the University of Bristol, located in the southwest of England. Ranking 9th in the UK and 58th in the world (QS World University Ranking 2021), the University of Bristol has a longstanding history of providing world-class education. So, who are some of this university’s most esteemed alumni?



Simon Pegg

Comic actor and writer, Simon Pegg studied theatre, film, and television at Bristol University in 1991. He’s known for his roles in films and TV shows such as Hot Fuzz, Mission Impossible, Shaun of the Dead, Doctor Who, Star Wars and many more. During his time at Bristol he was part of a comedy group, with none other than David Walliams, now also a famous British comedian and actor.


David Walliams

Most commonly known for his role in the British comedy, Little Britain, David Walliams graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Drama and was awarded an OBE for his contribution to charity and the arts.


International alumni


Anne McClain

A NASA astronaut, originally from Washington in the USA, Anne McClain was awarded a Marshall Scholarship for her studies abroad in the UK in 2002. She first studied at the University of Bath where she graduated with a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering. After that she studied a master’s in international relations at the University of Bristol.


University of Glasgow

Ranking among the top 100 universities in the world (THE World University Rankings 2021) the University of Glasgow is based in the vibrant cultural capital of Scotland. So, which famous figures chose Glasgow for their studies?



Emeli Sandé

A singer and songwriter from Scotland known for songs such as Read All About it, Next to Me and Clown. She received an MBE from Prince Charles for her services and commitment to the music industry. But before she rose to stardom as a singer, she studied neuroscience at the university from 2006 to 2009.


Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon is now the Scottish National Party leader, and the first woman to hold this position. During her degree, she showed an interest in student politics and was a member of the student representative committee. After she graduated, she became a solicitor at a law firm in Glasgow, before committing herself entirely to politics.


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International alumni


Mujibur Rahman                           

Mujibur Rahman was born in Bangladesh and was a medical scientist who obtained a PhD in haematology and blood transfusion from the University of Glasgow in 1964. He was awarded an Ekushey Padak civilian award by the Government of Bangladesh for his work in social service. Mujibur was also an honorary member of the World Health Organisation as an expert on blood transfusion. 


University of Bath

Based in the historic city of Bath, students can enjoy the beautiful architecture and riverside scenery while also gaining a top-class education. The University of Bath is particularly renowned for its sports facilities, home to a state-of-the-art sports training village. This leads us to our next notable alumni member who shares the university’s love of sport.



Marilyn Chinwenwa Okoro

A British track and field athlete, who represented Britain in the 2008 Beijing Olympic games. She was awarded a bronze medal in the 2007 and 2008 IAAF World Athletics final. But, before her career as a full-time athlete, she studied politics and French at the University of Bath where she was also able to spend time training.


International alumni


Florence Muringi Wambugu

A Kenyan plant pathologist and virologist is known for using biotechnology to increase food production in Africa. She first completed her BA in Botany at the University of Nairobi in Kenya before moving on to an MS in pathology at North Dakota University. Florence then gained a PhD in virology and biotechnology from the University of Bath in 1991. She is now CEO of the Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International.


Brunel University

A London-based university with a large international community, Brunel University is known for its practical teaching and flexible learning options. Let’s see who chose Brunel for their studies.



Jo Brand

Before her award-winning career as a comedian, Jo Brand was a psychiatric nurse in London for ten years. She studied for a joint social science degree with a registered mental health nurse qualification at Brunel University. Since turning her efforts to the comedy scene she has also had a significant presence on television with guest appearances on popular shows such as Have I Got News for You and QI.


International alumni


Hamdullah Mohib

Hamdullah Mohib is an Afghan politician who is currently the National Security Advisor of Afghanistan. He obtained a degree in computer systems engineering at Brunel University and also gained British citizenship, allowing him to stay in the UK for seven years.


Anastasios Papaligouras

A Greek new democracy politician born in Athens, Anastasios Papaligouras first studied law in Greece before completing a master’s degree in comparative European law at Brunel University.


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University of Leeds

A Russell Group university with a reputation for delivering a high standard of education the University of Leeds is also ranked 3rd in the UK in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2018. With over 300 clubs and societies, there is plenty to get involved in at Leeds. So, who previously found success at the University of Leeds?



Kier Starmer

The current Labour party leader in the UK, Kier Starmer began his journey into politics with a degree in law at the University of Leeds. After graduating with a first-class honour’s degree in 1985, he went on to become a barrister, member of the Queen’s Counsel and head of the Crown Prosecution Service.


International alumni

Jose Angel Gurria

Secretary-general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Jose Angel Gurria is a Mexican diplomat and economist who graduated from the University of Leeds with an MA in Development Economics. In his current role within the OECD, he helps governments around the world in the quest to fight poverty.


Bekele Geleta

Bekele was born in Ethiopia and studied an MSc in Transport Economics at the University of Leeds, graduating in 2014. He served as the secretary-general for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from 2008 to 2014.


So hopefully you can now see that there isn’t necessarily one clear route into the career of your dreams. Some people choose a degree and end up in a totally unrelated industry. When you’re deciding on a course, you just need to make sure that it interests you. Once you’re at university, you can then join clubs and societies to explore other interests you might have. Remember that it’s okay if you don’t know exactly what you want to do right now but that university can be a great platform to meet like-minded people and learn more about yourself.


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