Study in the United Kingdom
A degree from a UK institution is a passport to professional success.
Wherever in the world you choose to pursue your career, a degree from a university in the United Kingdom is internationally respected and considered a quality education. This impression is backed up by the numbers, with the UK producing 14% of the world’s most cited academic papers and 5% of the world’s scientific research.
These figures are all the more impressive considering the countries that comprise the United Kingdom are home to just 1% of the world’s population. The UK’s universities have a reputation for fostering genius across a multiplicity of disciplines, with luminaries such as Ernest Rutherford (the father of nuclear physics) to Oscar Wilde (acclaimed Irish writer and playwright) graduating from notable UK tertiary institutions.
Choosing to study abroad at a UK university has many financial, cultural and social advantages as well. A shorter, more intensive course structure means you’ll be able to fast-track your career and minimise your living costs while you study. The United Kingdom also has a range of programs designed to provide students with discounts and access to cheap public transport and study essentials.
Here are five good reasons for students to consider the UK.
1. The economy
The United Kingdom’s economy is huge. In fact, it’s the sixth largest in the world and it has enjoyed steady economic growth until the current world economic downturn. In essence though, businesses are still growing and people are finding work.
The UK fulfils the criteria for many students’ needs and has some of the best universities in the world, including Cambridge and Oxford.
Not every country in the world has a solid healthcare system. In fact, very few have a National Health Service (NHS) like the UK. Legal residents in the UK have access to free healthcare. International students can access the NHS upon payment of the International Health Surcharge (IHS). More details are available from the Health Advice and Services for International Students section of this guide.
There are few places with such a rich culture as the UK. With its mixed ethnic population and a long and interesting history, it is a fascinating place to explore.
5. The UK is geographically well placed
The UK is ideally placed for taking short trips to other countries. Many European destinations can be reached in just a few hours from London, which makes it a great travel hub.
Employment while you study
Want to work while you’re in the UK? Here’s how
Working part-time while can be a great way to help with the cost of living in the UK and also gain work experience in your field of study.
If you have a Tier 4 (general) or a Tier 4 (child) visa you can work during your studies and holidays if you:
- are studying at a publicly-funded higher education institution.
- are studying a short-term study abroad program with an overseas higher education institution.
- are over 16.
- are studying a course at NQF level 6 (degree level) and above.
However, there may be limits on the type of work you can do and your working hours. To find out more, visit the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) website. You must not work if your passport sticker or identity card says ‘No Work’ or ‘Work Prohibited’, as you will breach your immigration conditions, which is against the law in the UK.
Working after you graduate
If you want to stay and work in the UK after you finish your study, you’ll need to get a new visa first, or apply for a visa extension.
The three most common visas available to international students are the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur), Tier 2 (General) and Tier 5 (Temporary Worker). You can find out whether you’re eligible for one of these visas – and how to apply – on the UK Government website.
UK Student Visa Requirements
Everything you need to know about UK Visas
The visa you need will depend on your age and the type of study you want to do. An overview of study visa types and application requirements is included below, but for more information you should visit the Gov.UK website
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To be eligible for a Tier 4 student visa, you must:
- Have an unconditional offer of a place on a course with a licensed Tier 4 sponsor.
- Be able to speak, read, write and understand English.
- Have enough money to support yourself and pay for your course.
Applying for your visa online
You must apply for your student visa application online using the British Government’s official Gov.UK website (unless you are applying from North Korea, in which case you can use a hardcopy form).
You can apply up to three months before your intended date of travel to the UK. Your application date is the date when your application fee is paid.
When applying for your Tier 4 visa, you will generally need:
- A current passport or other valid travel documentation.
- Evidence of funds to provide your living expenses for the duration of your course.
- Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) reference number and documents used to obtain CAS.
- Passport-sized colour photograph.
- Tuberculosis screening (if required).
- Assessment documentation.
- Academic Technology Approval Scheme (ATAS) clearance certificate (if required).
Additional documents may also be needed if you are:
- Not a citizen of the country you are applying from.
- Under 18 years of age.
- Have family (dependents)
If any of your supporting documents is not in English, you will need to have it translated. Each translated document must be dated, and include the translator’s name and signature and confirmation that it is an accurate translation of the original document.
English language requirements
You must provide evidence of your knowledge of the English language when you apply for your visa. This usually means passing a secure English language test.
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) have minimum English language requirements for reading, writing, listening and speaking according to your level of study. Your education institution (sponsor) may have different English language requirements.
There is a chance you may be interviewed by a UKVI officer as part of the visa application process. If you cannot hold a simple conversation without an interpreter, you may be refused entry to the UK, regardless of your English language results.
Biometric residence permit
As part of your application, you must also obtain a biometric residence permit (BRP) from UKVI. You will need to make an appointment with UKVI to have your fingers and thumbs scanned and a digital photo taken of your face.