Study in the UK for International Students

Courses and modern universities are available to study in the UK for international students. Many universities, including Russell Group Universities in the UK, offer a wide range of courses, from regular undergraduate degrees to special foundation programmes and also MBA programmes

Why study in the UK as an international student?

The UK has more than 160 higher education institutions. There is also the prestigious Russell Group, a consortium of 24 leading research universities including Cambridge in the East Anglian region, Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland, Durham and Newcastle University in North East England, London School of Economics and Political Science in Central London.

Generally, a university will offer arts and sciences courses, but a few institutions focus on one particular area. For example, Imperial College London offers science and technology courses, and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (RADA), among other drama schools, offer drama courses.

A number of top institutions in London, such as SOAS University of London, UCL, Goldsmiths, University of London, Kings College London and the Queen Mary University of London, are affiliate schools of the University of London.

As far as admissions and funding are concerned, the schools function similarly to independent universities. As a student of an affiliate school, you may receive access to University of London services, including libraries at other schools, discounts and deals at Senate House, and other privileges.

How is the UK education system structured?

All courses on offer are often available to international students. Students studying undergraduate courses in England, Wales and Northern Ireland usually study one subject over three years. You must specify which course you want to study in your application.

There are, however, some exceptions to this rule, such as joint honours courses that allow you to study two courses concurrently, longer courses, such as medicine (which requires five years in the UK) and programmes that include three years of teaching and one year abroad or in industry.

Unlike the rest of the United Kingdom, the Scottish system is more like the U.S. college system. It is not uncommon for undergraduate courses in Scotland to last four years, covering several subjects in the first two years before students specialise in one subject in the final two years.

In the UK, postgraduate studies are further specialised. Still, you can choose between taught master’s programmes with seminars and lectures and research master’s programmes where you will work on your own project from the beginning with your supervisor.

Regarding English proficiency, international students wishing to study in the UK must demonstrate a minimum level of English language proficiency (CEFR level B2) to be granted a Student Route visa (previously known as a Tier 4 visa) to study at the undergraduate or postgraduate level.

Additionally, some universities may require applicants to demonstrate English proficiency above the B2 level due to the challenging academic content of a UK degree. Academic English entry requirements may also vary by course.

Suppose you are from one of the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Malta, New Zealand, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, UK, USA, see Tier 4 Visa English requirement for more information. In that case, you do not need to prove English language proficiency before getting a student visa.

You can also find a list of universities that accept English (C) credit if you have completed the West African Examination Council (WAEC) / (WASSCE) or National Examination Council (NECO) qualification.

How to apply for admission to study in the UK as an international student?

The UK higher education undergraduate application process can be done through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). UCAS accepts applications from international applicants to study for an undergraduate degree, as well as some postgraduate courses such as the Postgraduate Certificate in Education (e.g. if you wish to become a teacher in the UK). If you are applying to study for masters or PhD course, you can apply directly to UK universities. 

If you are applying from abroad for a postgraduate degree course in the UK, for either a master’s or PhD programme, your supporting qualifications, such as your undergraduate degree and transcripts, should be included in your application.

Our advice to study in the UK for international students is to prepare supporting documents at least a year in advance.

Most universities in the UK will accept your foreign degree qualification as comparable to a UK degree qualification so long as you meet the minimum entry requirements.

If you hold an HND qualification from abroad and you want to top up to complete an undergraduate degree or proceed to a masters degree in the UK, this may be possible by enrolling first into a Postgraduate Certificate course.

How much does it cost to live in the UK as an international student?

To study overseas in the UK, you should have a budget of around £1,334 per month for up to a maximum of 9 months or £12,006 to study in London. These funds are in addition to the tuition fees for your course. For the purpose of obtaining a student visa to study in London, this is the minimum amount you must hold in your bank account. A lesser amount of £1,023 per month will apply to other parts of the UK.

If you are to study in the UK and attending a college or university outside of London, you will require a minimum of £1,023 per month or a maximum of £9207. You must have this money for at least 28 consecutive days in your bank account or parent’s bank account. The end date of the 28-day period must be within 31 days of the date you apply for your student visa. 

You will need to adjust this amount based on your lifestyle and how much socialising you do while you study in the UK.

Depending on where you want to study in the UK, the amount of money you need to cover living costs will be different. London and some other large cities such as Oxford, Cambridge and Brighton are more expensive than smaller cities. Below is arguably an average basic monthly cost expected (depending on lifestyle) of an international student living in the UK – London prices are estimated in brackets.

It is not necessary to provide this proof of funds if you have lived in the United Kingdom with a valid visa for at least 12 months.

Accommodation£450 (£750 in London)
Gas, electricity and water bill£87
Internet (wifi)£28
Mobile phone bill£10
Laundry and dry-cleaning£20 (£32 in London)
Travel (buses, trams, and trains)£70 (£102 in London)
Average Basic Monthly Living Expenses for International Students in the UK

Can international students bring my family dependents to the UK?

International students can come to the UK with their dependents. According to the student visa rules regarding bringing your family, your spouse and children (referred to as ‘dependents’) will only be eligible if one of the following three requirements are met: you are a full-time student enrolled in a postgraduate degree programme (e.g. a masters degree) lasting nine months or more, you are a new government-sponsored student enrolling in a course that lasts for a minimum of six months, or you are on a Doctorate Extension Scheme.

Only specific family members may apply to come to the UK as your dependent, an important advice to bear in mind when you study in the UK as an international student.

They include your husband or wife (also referred to as your spouse), the applicant’s partner (including same-sex partners) if the applicant and the partner have lived together for two years or more before the application, and your children under the age of 18.

Can international students work in the UK?

International students can work part-time while they study in the UK to earn extra income. Your spouse can work too. Students often wonder how they will be able to work in the UK while studying. In any case, you should not rely on part-time employment to fund your studies.

For the duration of your studies in the UK, you should have enough money to cover your tuition fees and living expenses without working part-time. Students studying in the UK tend to work to have more disposable income. 

International students enrolled on a full-time bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral programme, the maximum number of working hours per week is 20. As a bachelor’s degree student, you will also be permitted to work full-time during your summer and vacation breaks.

If you wish to work in the UK, you must apply for a National Insurance number, but you do not need to receive that number before starting work. If you intend to work while studying, you should apply for your National Insurance as soon as you arrive in the UK.

Can I start a business in the UK as an international student?

You cannot start or run a business or be self-employed while studying in the UK on a student visa.

How much does it cost to study in the UK for international students.

Fees vary depending on the university and course you choose to study. It ranges from £10,000 – 50,000. MBA programmes are among the most expensive. Tuition fees of Russell Group universities are sometimes higher than those of non-Russell Group universities.

Are there scholarships in the UK for international students?

As an international student who wants to study in the UK, you may be able to get financial help through scholarships if you are studying for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. Also, sometimes it is possible to receive a scholarship depending on your chosen university.

Some schools offer merit-based bursaries. Information about these opportunities can be obtained in several ways, such as by contacting the school’s admissions office to learn more about scholarship availability. We will encourage you to visit our website’s scholarship section to find more opportunities.

Can I drive in the UK with my international driver’s license?

When applying for a UK driver’s licence, international applicants must show they have been legally in the UK for at least six months unless they have a licence from a European Economic Area member state. If you have a full driving licence issued in an EEA country, there is no need to change it to a UK licence, provided it remains valid.

If you are from the following ‘designated countries’ listed below, you’ll first need to apply for a provisional license. You can then take a driving test and apply for a full licence once you’ve been in the UK for at least six months.

The designated countries are Andorra, Australia, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Canada, Cayman Islands, Falkland Islands, Faroe Islands, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Republic of North Macedonia, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, Taiwan, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe.

For all other countries, you must apply for a provisional driver’s licence six months after arriving in the UK. After successfully passing your driving test, you may start learning how to drive and apply for a full driving license.

Types of accommodation in the UK for international students

You can either live in halls of residence, which your university or college provides or privately-rented accommodation, which can be secured through your university or a private exchange agent or with a landlord directly.

Halls of Residence – Students who study in the UK can live in halls, which are large blocks of flats arranged around corridors or apartments with shared kitchens. It is also common for bathrooms to be shared, although en-suite rooms are increasingly common.

Most of these are run by universities or in partnership with private companies, assuring generally high-quality service, as they must comply with national standards.

The private halls of residence offer all the benefits of halls without being associated with a university. Utility bills such as water and electricity are included in the rent, and you do not have to pay separately.

Rooms are booked directly with the halls you’re interested in or online if necessary. If you meet application deadlines, you may be guaranteed a place in a hall of residence for full-time first-year students and international postgraduate students.

The eligibility requirements will vary from institution to institution – for example, if you went through clearing, you may be ineligible. 

Privately-rented Accommodation – Some students prefer to live in privately rented houses, which typically accommodate four or five people. Students typically follow this path from their second year, but some first-year students follow it.

As a second-year student, you get to decide who will live with you (in most cases, your friends from the first year), which can make for a more enjoyable experience. In addition, you will have a fantastic choice of living arrangements.

Although you’ll be farther from campus, the popular student areas of most university cities are very well served by public transportation, and they offer plenty of shopping, bars, and eating options. You can inquire with the university’s accommodation office about available housing.

To ensure everything is in order, you should view the properties before signing the accommodation contract or at least get someone you trust to view them on your behalf.

Usually, the rent in private accommodation is cheaper than in university halls, but you’ll also pay bills such as water and electricity. It is up to you to sort your bills. 

But remember, as long as everyone in your house is a full-time student, you do not have to pay council tax. It’s also important to be comfortable communicating with your landlord or letting the agent arrange repairs and sort out issues.

As a tenant, ensure you understand your contract and know your rights. Most landlords use a tenancy deposit protection scheme, and if your landlord does not maintain reasonable standards, your local council can require him to make repairs.

Can I work in the UK after graduation?

As of 1 July 2021, international student graduates who have completed an undergraduate or master’s degree in the UK will be eligible for two years of work experience in the UK through the Graduate Route. If you complete your PhD, you can stay for three years.

To be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route, you will need to apply from within the UK. This visa route requires payment of a visa fee and an Immigration Health Surcharge. The Graduate Route application also requires the Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies (CAS) used for the most recent Student (or Tier 4) application.

International students who possess a valid UK student visa at the time of application and have completed a degree at an undergraduate level or above at an accredited institution will be eligible to apply for the Graduate Route.

If you have completed an undergraduate or master’s degree, you can work or look for work in the UK for two years at any skill level. For PhD graduates, this period is for three years. When you find a job that suits you, you can switch to a skilled work visa.

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