Quarter of countries headed by leaders educated in Britain

Overall, there are still slightly more leaders who were educated in the US

Both the US and the UK are far ahead of every other country for educating current world leaders. Getty Images
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There are more countries with a leader educated in the UK than the US, the Higher Education Policy Institute has announced following the results of its seventh annual Soft-Power Index.

However, there are still seven more world leaders educated in the US (65), including the UK’s Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak than in the UK (58).

The index measures the number of serving world leaders (monarchs, presidents and prime ministers) educated at a higher level in countries other than their own.

In the first year of the Index in 2017, there were more world leaders who had been educated in the UK tertiary sector than in any other country, including the US.

However, the US overtook the UK in 2018 and extended its lead in each of the four subsequent years.

There are 195 countries in the world and about one-quarter of them (28 per cent) have a very senior leader who was educated in the US while a similar number (27 per cent) have a very senior leader who was educated in the UK.

As there is some overlap, with a handful of leaders being educated in both the UK and the US, the total number of countries with a very senior leader who has been educated at a higher level in the US and or the UK is 43 per cent of the world’s countries.

Both the US and the UK are far ahead of every other country, benefiting from their strong university systems and their international connections as well as having English as the most common language.

France remains in third place, having educated 30 leaders in post in the summer of 2023, down one on 2022 levels, and considerably ahead of Russia in fourth place on 10.

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The only other countries that have educated more than five serving world leaders are Switzerland (7), Australia (6), Italy (6) and Spain (6).

‘The number of world leaders educated in other countries reflects the standing of different educational systems and is a good proxy for the amount of soft power held by different countries,” Nick Hillman, the Director of HEPI, said.

“It is a phenomenal achievement that over one-quarter of the countries in the world have a very senior leader – a head of state or prime minister – educated in the UK.

‘It is no accident that the countries that top the global university league tables are the same ones that educate the most people who go on to head up their own countries.

‘When we published the results last year, we noted there was a more propitious environment for international students in the UK due to recent policy changes but the dial has since been turned back somewhat,” he added.

“Recent rhetoric from the Home Office and incoming tougher rules on student dependants mean many UK institutions will have to fight harder to maintain their attractiveness to those outside the country.”

List of countries with at least one senior leader educated in the UK

1. Antigua and Barbuda (Gaston Browne)

2. Bahrain (King Hamad and Prince Salman bin Hamad)

3. Barbados (Mia Mottley)

4. Belgium (King Philippe)

5. Bhutan (Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck)

6. Bolivia (Luis Arce)

7. Brunei (Hassanal Bolkiah)

8. Cameroon (Joseph Ngute)

9. Cyprus (Nicos Anastasiades)

10. Czechia (Petr Pavel)

11. Denmark (Queen Margrethe II)

12. Dominica (Charles Savarin)

13. East Timor (Jose Ramos-Horta)

14. Egypt (Abdel Fattah El Sisi)

15. Fiji (Sitiveni Rabuka)

16. The Gambia (Adama Barrow)

17. Ghana (Nana Akufo-Addo)

18. Guyana (Mark Phillips)

19. Hungary (Viktor Orban)

20. Iceland (Guoni Johannesson)

21. Iraq (Abdul Latif Rashid)

22. Ireland (Michael D Higgins)

23. Japan (Emperor Naruhito)

24. Jordan (King Abdullah II and Bisher Al Khasawneh)

25. Kuwait (Emir Sheikh Nawaf)

26. Lesotho (King Letsie III)

27. Liechtenstein (Hereditary Prince Alois)

28. Luxembourg (Grand Duke Henri)

29. Malaysia (Abdullah of Pahang)

30. Malta (George Vella)

31. Mauritius (Prithvirajsing Roopun and Pravind Jugnauth)

32. Monaco (Prince Albert II)

33. Montenegro (Jakov Milatovic)

34. Mozambique (Filipe Nyusi)

35. Namibia (Hage Geingob)

36. Norway (King Harald V)

37. Oman (Haitham bin Tariq)

38. Palestine (Mohammad Shtayyeh)

39. Philippines (Bongbong Marcos)

40. Qatar (Emir Sheikh Tamim)

41. Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (Ralph Gonsalves)

42. Serbia (Ana Brnabić)

43. Seychelles (Wavel Ramkalawan)

44. Sierra Leone (Julius Maada Bio)

45. Singapore (Lee Hsien Loong)

47. Switzerland (Karin Keller-Sutter)

48. Syria (Bashar Al Assad)

49. Tanzania (Samia Suluhu Hassan)

50. Tonga (King Tupou VI and Siaosi Sovaleni)

51. UAE (President Sheikh Mohamed and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid)

52. Vanuatu (Nikenike Vurobaravu)

53. Zambia (Hakainde Hichilema)

Updated: August 21, 2023, 11:01 PM