Forgive me if this question has been asked before, I've looked though quite a lot of posts and not seen anything that answers this question.
I know links from .edu and .gov sites are very prestigious in the link building world but I've noticed edu site are mainly for American education sites. Do .ac.uk links carry the same authority for linking sites in the UK?
the .ac.uk and .edu TLDs are not inherently more valuable. the reason they are prestigious is that content on those domains will generally be "better" within a given niche than other domains and if so will typically have authority and lots of inbound links, but the content of any given url on those TLDs is not necessarily "better" for linking to your content.
Yes. As phranque noted, google has stated that .edu s are not something special. They are good links not because they are .edu s, they are good links because they have great content and back links. .ac.uk should have the samue characteristics, and might actually be better for you because they would also be local.