Study in UK Guide

Study in the UK: A Guide for International Students


An education in the United Kingdom is an opportunity to immerse yourself in an educational tradition dating all the way back to 1096. The higher education system in the UK includes some of the world’s top ranked universities.
Choosing the UK as your study abroad destination means more than a top-quality education. The four distinct nations of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland all contribute to the U.K’s diverse landscape, from bustling urban centers to the tranquility of the British countryside.


All four nations are all enticing destinations in their own right – from the glittering nerve center of London to the gritty charm of Glasgow, the craggy peaks of Snowdonia to the green slopes of Northern Ireland, this historic country is packed with opportunity. What’s more, the U. K’s extensive transport network means that you are never far from the next city, landmark or pub


The UK – Quick facts & figures

Countries: England, Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland

Language: English

Population: 66 million

Area Size: 242,495 km²

Students: 2.34 million (458,000 international)

Academic Year: September – June

Currency: Pound sterling (£)

Calling Code: +44

Time Zone: GMT (UTC+0)


The Higher Education System in the UK

The number of international students studying in the UK has been consistently rising. If you’re planning on studying in the UK, you will have a wide range of higher education institutions and programs to choose from when finding the perfect fit for you!
All UK universities are independent bodies maintained by tuition fees, research outputs, and government funding. The country operates under the three-tier higher education system like the rest of Europe, which is divided into undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate study.Undergraduate degrees usually last three years (four in Scotland or with a placement in industry or overseas) and provide a more general overall education, resulting in a Bachelor’s degree. In Scotland, however, a four year undergraduate degree will result in a Scottish Masters of Arts, equivalent to a Bachelor’s degree in the rest of the UK Two-year career-based or foundational courses also fall into the category of undergraduate higher education, though these are less common.
For a more specialized education, graduate and post-graduate studies give you the opportunity to hone your research interests with more specific training. Master’sand Doctorate (PhD) programs are generally shorter in length than a Bachelor’s program. If you’re planning to pursue your studies at the graduate level, expect one to two years of study for a master’s program, and three to four years of study for a PhD. If you’re pursuing your studies after the undergraduate level, you will be expected to develop original research under the supervision of academics at the top of their field.Quality standards for UK universities at all three levels of study are among the best in the world and credentials from UK institutions are generally internationally respected. No matter your level of study, studying in the UK is a surefire way to make a positive step towards your prospective career in any field. 

Tuition Fees in the UK

UK tuition fees can vary depending on where you are from and where you are studying. EU students are required to pay the same fees as UK (home) students, which differ throughout the country.Tuition fees in England are capped at £9,250 per year, with 76% of institutions charging the full amount. In Wales the cap is £9,000, and in Northern Ireland it is £4,160.
Scotland is unique in that tuition fees for home students are paid for by the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS). Tuition fees for Scottish and EU students alike are effectively covered by SAAS.If you are a home or EU student, you can find out more about your funding options throughout the UK by visiting the UK Council for International Student Affairs or student finance UK.

Across the UK, international students (non-EU/EEA nationals) pay international fees, higher than the fees for home and EU students. In general, an undergraduate degree in the humanities or social sciences can range from £10,000 to £17,000, a science or engineering degree from £10,000 to £20,000, and clinical degrees up to £38,000. Fees can fluctuate to even higher levels, and tuition fees for graduate and postgraduate degrees also vary, depending on your institution and program of study.


While UK tuition costs are higher than elsewhere in the world, remember that programs offered by UK universities are generally shorter than those of other countries such as the US, with undergraduate degrees taking three years instead of four, and most master’s programs lasting one year instead of two!


Three scholarships are made available specifically for people from international countries:


Chevening Scholarships

These scholarships are available to outstanding students to fund a one-year master’s degree. Use the Chevening course finder to make sure your institution and program of study are Chevening partners. To be eligible for this award, students must demonstrate leadership and decision-making skills across a range of areas, including business, media, politics and academia.


Commonwealth Scholarships and Fellowships

These funding opportunities are offered by Commonwealth Scholarship Commission UK. Over 900 scholarships and fellowships are available each year for students of Commonwealth countries to help them fund their postgraduate education.


Marshall Scholarships for American Students

These scholarships are offered to 40 graduates from the US. Students must have a minimum GPA of 3.7 to apply and their degree must have been awarded within the past three years. This resource includes university fees, living expenses, travel costs (flights and daily commute) and entails a contribution towards the support of a dependent spouse.


The list doesn’t end there! many UK institutions offer their own scholarship and funding schemes. Contact your university to find out the funding options available to you. Furthermore, country and field-specific funding schemes are available depending on your country of origin and program of study.


Student Visa for the UK


Currently, students from countries within the EEA and Switzerland do not require a visa to study in the UK.International students from all other countries do 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.

A note on Brexit

The existing rules for EU students currently studying or planning to study in the UK may change depending on how the UK exits the EU. Stay updated with the latest information from the UK government and the British council.


Visas and immigration enquiries are handled by UK Visas and Immigration and you should apply for your UK study visa through their website. The process can be involved, so be sure to leave plenty of time for your application – you can apply for a visa up to three months before the start date of your course.


If you require a UK student visa, it will be awarded on a points-based system. In order to obtain the required points, you will need to provide certain information and documents. This will depend on the type of visa you are applying for, but may entail 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 need will be dependent on the duration of your study program. Find out more details about the type of visa you should apply for below!

Short-Term / Study-visit Visa

This visa is for students from outside the EEA who are over 18 years old and planning on undertaking a short program of study. These programs include an English language or training course, or a short research period as part of a study abroad program. The short-term visa is valid for up to six months (costing 97 GBP) or 11 months (costing 186 GBP), and once expired cannot be extended. Obtaining this visa does not allow you to work in the UK, or study at a state-funded higher education institution.

Tier 4 (General) Student Visa

The Tier 4 general student visa is for students aged 16 or over who have been offered a place on a longer-term course at an accredited institution and allows you to stay for a greater duration of time than a short-term visa. It also permits the holder to work most jobs, and to extend the visa should they choose to study at a higher level. The visa requires a fee of 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

This visa is for students aged 17 or under who wish to attend an independent school in the United Kingdom. Depending on your age and the length of the course, this student visa could allow you to stay in the UK for up to 6 years. It also permits those aged 16 or over to work part-time during term, and full-time during holidays.

Cost of Living in the United Kingdom

While tuition fees are often at the top of students’ minds when choosing their study abroad destination, there are other costs to keep in mind when figuring out the financial resources necessary to make your study abroad dreams into a reality.

Cities in the UK can have highly varied costs of living, but we’ve compiled a list of the average prices for students’ most common expenses.

Some average living costs in the UK:

Meal: GBP £12

Coffee: GBP £3.60

Beer: GBP £2.67

Cinema Ticket: GBP £10

Monthly rent: GBP £718

Monthly Transport: GBP £60

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