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Study in the UK: Student Visas

A note on Brexit

The UK has left the EU and a new points-based immigration system has been introduced. Visit the websites for the UK Government and the British council to stay updated with the latest information and for advice on how this will affect students from the EU and the EEA (including Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) studying or planning to study in the UK, or participate in the Erasmus programme. 

EU nationals who already live, work or study in the UK can continue to enjoy the exact same rights as they do now as long as they register under the EU Settlement Scheme before 30 June 2021. To be eligible for this scheme, you must have moved to the UK no later than 31 December 2020.

However, from 1 January 2021, the new 'points-based immigration system' will apply to all international students entering the UK to study for the first time, including those from the EU the EEA, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. Applications under the new Student route open from 5 October 2020. 

Exceptions have been created for nationals from the Republic of Ireland.

Read more: What Brexit Means for Your Studies Abroad

study visa for the uk

International students from all other countries continue to require a study visa to enter the UK. 

Generally, international students enter the UK on a “Tier-4 Visa” for a full study program. Students studying English or training courses can apply for a short-term study visa.

UK Visas and Immigration handle all visas and immigration matters. You should apply for a UK study visa through their website. You can apply for a visa up to three months before the start date of your course. However, the process is complex, so start the process early to give yourself plenty of time to properly complete your application.

The UK awards student visas according to a points-based system. To obtain the required number of points, you will need supporting information and documents. Generally, this entails the following:

  • Passport details and a recent photograph
  • A ‘Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies’ (CAS) from your institution of study, which will be sent to you by your university once you fulfill the conditions of your acceptance
  • If you are a non-native speaker, proof of proficiency in the English language as demonstrated by a ‘secure English language test’ (SELT)
  • Proof that you have the financial means to support yourself for the duration of your study in the UK, documented by a bank statement

The types of visa you’ll need depends on the duration of your study program. Find out more information below!

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Short-Term / Study-visit Visa

Students from outside the EEA who are 18 years old and older planning on undertaking a short program of study may apply for a short-term / study-visit visa. This applies to students planning on studying English language or training courses, or pursuing a short research period as part of a study abroad program. 

A short-term / study-visit visa is valid for up to six months (costing 97 GBP) or 11 months (costing 186 GBP). 

Once it expires it cannot be extended. This visa does not permit you to work in the UK or study at a state-funded higher education institution. 

Tier 4 (General) Student Visa

Students aged 16 and older who have been offered a place on a longer-term course at an accredited institution may apply for the Tier 4 general student visa. 

It allows you to stay for a longer period of time than a short-term visa. It also permits the holder to work most jobs, and to extend the visa should you choose to study at a higher level. 

The visa costs 328 GBP, and if you are staying for longer than 6 months you will be required to pay a 150 GBP ‘health surcharge’ in order to gain access to the National Health Service. 

The UK government has published a detailed guide on what is required for the Tier- 4 student visa application, including documents to submit and the amount of financial resources you will require to have your student visa approved.

Once you’ve made your online application, you will have to submit your biometric details and information in your home country for the UK government to begin processing your application. Find your local visa application center where you will submit your biometrics here.

Tier 4 (Child) Student Visa

Students aged 17 or under who wish to attend an independent school in the United Kingdom may apply for the Tier 4 (Child) Student Visa. This visa allows you to stay in the UK for up to 6 years, depending on your age and the length of your course. It also permits those aged 16 or over to work part-time during term, and full-time during holidays.

Learn more about studying in the UK:


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How TOEFL iBT Can Be Your Gateway to the UK

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ETS, TOEFL and TOEFL iBT are registered trademarks of ETS.

Entry Requirements for UK universities

The facility for undergraduate admissions in the UK is The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). There are two rounds of applications each year. Find out more here.

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