Applying as an International Student - Primrose Kitten

Applying as an International Student

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Deciding to apply to university in a different country can be a daunting prospect, but there are some fantastic opportunities out there if you're willing to strive for them. Nearly 15% of students studying at U.K. universities are international, so there are plenty of opportunities for foreign students.

For the majority of foreign applicants, the process is exactly the same as home students. You decide on your course, and then you decide at your university. You think about your personal statement, and you apply via UCAS. You can use the other sections of this book to see how to pick a course, how to pick a university, how to write your personal statement, how to get references if your school isn't used to applying through UCAS, and what you can do if you've been out of school for a while.

You'll still need to abide by the deadlines: the October deadline for medicine, veterinary, Oxford, and Cambridge, and the January deadline for everything else. However, because you are an international student, you are very welcome by universities because they can charge you more, which means they are much more likely to be lenient on deadlines than they are to home students.

You are going to need to think carefully about funding. There are going to be some funding requirements. You need to think about whether you're going to qualify for a visa, and also whether you're going to be able to show that you're proficient in the English language. There are some health considerations that the government takes into account as well, but universities really want international students, so your chosen university’s international students’ office will be more than happy to help you. If you need a bit of help, the universities that you’re applying to are going to be a brilliant place to reach out to.

Chao’s Story - Applying as an International Student 

Studying abroad isn't just an extraordinary chance to gain from a number of the best educators—it is a chance to live in another country and learn more about it by taking an interest in regular activities. Having the opportunity to apply and study as an international student is an opportunity I would always take because it’s an experience I would never forget. In any case, before applying as an international student, all students going to U.K. need to get a student visa through the U.K. home office.

As an international student, the application process can be overwhelming. Foreign students face extra challenges and stress factors beyond that of our U.K. associates. This is because the majority of us might come from countries where mail services are costly, unreliable and slow. Application charges might need to be paid in this style which may be inaccessible to us and our relatives in our nations. Also, coming from a different educational system as an international candidate, we regularly need to independently explore school sites, deal with unfamiliar vocabulary and terms on applications, and manage different admissions materials. With this, we need to improve our English language and demonstrate it.

We can only exhibit our English language capacity by completing an English language course. However, if you are a citizen of a country that is amongst the English Speaking Commonwealth, for example, Jamaica, it is easier for you to do your own ESOL or IELTS at a private college if you wish to study in the U.K. in certain immigration classifications. IELTS level 7 is the Standard English Language section is required for most advanced education courses in the UK.

But for me, through my research, I found some ways which helped me improve my language skills while applying as an international student, and these might be useful for you too. They are:

  • Signup for online courses equipped towards not only English but your basic coursework, too.
  • Ask some brilliant students, lecturers or professors to suggest great learning materials that you could work with freely.
  • If you have no one to ask, do not feel disappointed! There are books that deal particularly with language for academic settings. Check the Internet for a list of them, as they may really be of value.
  • Watch English language TV programs and movies to improve your familiarity with the language. It really helps!
  • Lastly, I made the Internet my best friend by making use of free resources online, specifically magazines, newspapers, and articles. These truly helped me increase my language skills without costing a penny.

There is one thing most of us forget to do, which I almost forgot too, and this is contacting the university or college of our choice. Contacting them will make them inform you about whatever they require from you to determine if you are academically qualified to learn at their university or college. Among other necessities, you also have to show your school that you have sufficient money to support yourself while learning at their school, and you likewise need to have medical insurance in U.K. as the charge of health care with no insurance can be a heavy bill. Applying as an international student might be a bit stressful due to all the processes we have to follow, but at the end of it all, it is worth the stress.  


If you want to apply to study in the U.K., you're going to need a Tier 4 (General) student visa. And as part of this process, you're going to need to show that you're proficient in the English language.

This proficiency testing is known as the SELT or the Secure English Language Test. It is a requirement for your Tier 4 (General) student visa, and it is conducted by Trinity College, London if you're in the U.K., or by the IELTS if you are outside the U.K.

Trinity College has several locations across the U.K., and you need to book your test online. The test will include a speaking and listening component, a conversation component, and a reading and writing component.

The IELTS needs to be conducted at an academic level, and there is quite a long test for this. There are four components to the IELTS. The listening section, which is 30 minutes long.  The reading section, which is 60 minutes long. The writing section, which is 60 minutes long. You do all four components in a row, and you're not allowed a break in between them. The speaking, the listening, the conversation part is between 10 and 15 minutes, and you can do this a week either side of your written test. You will need to show your passport or your identity badge when you arrive to take the test, and the proctors will also use other methods to confirm your identity.


Getting a visa is an important part of coming to the U.K. to study. If you want to come for less than six months, then you can get a short-term visa. But if you want to study for an undergraduate degree, which is more than six months, then you're going to need a Tier 4 (General) student visa. 

Your university will be your Tier 4 sponsor, and when they accept you in the course, then they'll give you all of the details that you need to fill in your visa application form, including your Confirmation of Acceptance of Studies, or CAS. For degree-level courses, student visas can be up to five years. There are some exceptions on the time limit if your courses are over five years, such as Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Architecture, some Law courses, and some post-graduate courses.

The Home Office has fixed values to show how much money they expect you to have to be able to support yourself. You're expected to be able to pay all of your fees, and then you're expected to be able to provide yourself with £1,265 each month while you're studying in the U.K. Your course may not be for the entire year—for example, it may only be nine months—so you'd have to have that £1,265 for each of the nine months you were studying in the U.K. You would then have to return home for the other three months of the year.

You're going to need to prove that you're proficient in the English language by completing a SELT course at a certified centre (see previous section), and any criminal convictions are going to have to be disclosed on your visa application form. There is a charge for applying for your visa, and there is no guarantee that the home office will actually grant you a Tier 4 visa. Be prepared: you're going to have to provide lots and lots of documentation to support all of the things that you've stated in your application. However, if you do manage to get your hands on one of those visas, it is going to be a fantastic opportunity for you to come and study in the U.K.

Immigration Healthcare Surcharge (IHS)

When you are applying for your visa, you’ll be required to pay the Immigration Healthcare Surcharge, or the HIS. Once you have paid this fee, and once your visa has been granted, you’ll be legal entitled to use the healthcare provided by the NHS. This means healthcare will be free at the point of use, but be aware that there are a few services that still required a minimal payment, such as medical prescriptions, dental treatments, and eye tests.

TB Testing

Tuberculosis (TB) is a bacterial infection that predominately affects the lungs and is spread by coughs and sneezes. TB can be fatal, but it is easily treated by a course of antibiotics. Due an extensive vaccination program today, there are very few causes of TB in the U.K. To prevent a resurgence of infection by students from countries with high infection rates, incoming students need to prove they are free from infection. TB tests require a phlegm sample and a chest x-ray.

Students from the following countries will need to take a TB test at a Home Office-approved centre: 

Afghanistan; Algeria; Angola; Armenia; Azerbaijan; Bangladesh; Belarus; Benin; Bhutan; Bolivia; Botswana; Brunei; Burma; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cambodia; Cape Verde; Central African Republic; Chad; Cameroon; China; Congo; Côte d’Ivoire; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Djibouti; Dominican Republic; East Timor; Ecuador; Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Georgia; Ghana; Guatemala; Guinea; Guinea Bissau ; Guyana; Haiti; Hong Kong; India; Indonesia; Iraq; Kazakhstan; Kenya; Kiribati; Kyrgyzstan; Laos; Lesotho; Liberia; Macau; Madagascar; Malawi; Malaysia; Mali; Marshall Islands; Mauritania; Micronesia; Moldova; Mongolia; Morocco; Mozambique; Namibia; Nepal; Niger; Nigeria; North Korea; Pakistan; Palau; Papua New Guinea; Panama; Paraguay; Peru; Philippines; Russia; Rwanda; São Tomé and Principe; Senegal; Sierra Leone; Solomon Islands; Somalia; South Africa; South Korea; South Sudan; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Suriname; Swaziland; Tajikistan; Tanzania; Togo; Thailand; Turkmenistan; Tuvalu; Uganda; Ukraine; Uzbekistan; Vanuatu; Vietnam; Zambia; Zimbabwe

Student Loans

Students from the EU can apply for a student loan as if they were U.K. students. Students from outside the European Union and the U.K. will have to show they can the finances to self-fund for the duration of their studies.


At the moment, Brexit will have no impact on the status of international students. The U.K. will leave Europe at some point, and the negotiations regarding the status of international students have yet to be resolved. 

Costs for International Students

There are lots and lots of things you need to consider when you decide to come to the U.K. to study as an international student. The biggest chunk of the cost for you is going to be tuition fees, which can range from £12,000 to £20,000, depending on the location of the degree, whether it's an academic subject, whether it's a lab-based subject, which year of your degree you're in, and exactly the subject that you are doing.

On top of that, you're going to have roughly £9,000 living costs; these costs rise to about £13,000 if you are studying in one of the big cities like London, Oxford, Cambridge, or Edinburgh.

You need to consider your costs of traveling home, as not all universities will let you stay there over the holidays; in other words, you might be forced to go home for Christmas as your accommodation may be used for tourists during that time, so you will need to factor in the cost of traveling home three or four times a year. Communications with home might require you to get a more expensive mobile phone contract than other students. You might need to get calling card, or you might need to consider accommodation that has Wi-Fi included, as not all of them do.

1 comment

Dang, that’s very expensive.

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