Home > UK Visitors > Coming from Abroad to Study in the UK

Coming from Abroad to Study in the UK

By: Louise Smith, barrister - Updated: 27 Jan 2013 | comments*Discuss
Coming From Abroad To Study In The Uk

UK education is renowned throughout the world for its academic excellence and UK schools and universities have always welcomed students from abroad. Each year many people come to the UK to study or to improve their English language skills.

The visa requirements for those wishing to study in the UK differ for those whose course will last six months or less and for applicants wishing to study longer courses. Since 1 September 1997 all students on longer courses require student entry clearance to enter the UK – this applies even to those who would not ordinarily require a visa to study in the UK.

A list of all countries whose citizens require a visa to visit the UK is available from the UK Border Agency.

Coming to the UK as a Student

Before coming to the UK as a student, overseas citizens will have to be accepted onto a course provided by an institution on the register of education and training providers. The institution must be:
  • A publicly funded university;
  • A private education institution; or,
  • A private fee-paying school.
To obtain a student visa a foreign national will have to be enrolled on:
  • a full-time degree course;
  • a period of study exceeding six months which forms part of an overseas degree programme;
  • a course which involves 15 hours of time-tabled study each week; or,
  • a full-time course of school education.
Students will also have to show that they can support themselves financially whilst they are in the UK and that they intend to leave the UK at the end of their course.

Students may bring their spouse or partner and any children under the age of 18 to the UK provided that they show that they can afford to support them whilst they are here.

Foreign citizens in the UK on full student visas are permitted to work whilst they are in the UK. However, this should be part-time or holiday work, or a work-placement which forms part of the student’s course. There are restrictions on the number of hours which can be worked during term-time.

Applying For a Student Visa to the UK

Applications for a student visa are made on the VAF 3 – Student form or it may be possible to apply online. Whether applications may, or in some cases must, be made online usually depends on the country in which the applicant resides.

Completing the Application

As well as filling in the application form, student visa applicants will also have to:
  • Provide a valid passport or other travel document;
  • Provide a photograph of themselves which complies with the UK Border Agency’s requirements;
  • Provide any necessary supporting documents – these may include diplomas or certificates, the letter offering a place on the course and documents proving that the applicant can support themselves financially;
  • Pay the fee for the application – since 30 June 2008 this has been £99. However, students studying on some specific academic scholarship programmes do not have to pay a fee.

Obtaining Entry Clearance for the UK

Entry clearance may be given based on the information provided by the applicant in their VAF 3 form. However, the applicant could be required to attend an interview before clearance is given.

Coming to the UK as a Prospective Student

Those who wish to come to the UK to apply for an educational course may be allowed into the country for up to six months to organise the course. Prospective students will have to show that they intend to enrol on a course within six months of their arrival, can support themselves financially and intend to leave at the end of their course or when their permission to be in the UK expires if they do not obtain student status.

Coming to the UK as a Student Visitor

To qualify as a student visitor, applicants must be at least 18 years old and may not study at a government-funded school or undertake any form or work or internship while they are in the UK. Student visitors may not stay in the UK for longer than six months.

Student visitor visa applicants complete the standard visitor’s visa application: the Visitor Form (VAF1).

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
(never shown)
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • Bev50uk
    Re: New Rules for South African Visitors to the UK
    I have a very dear friend in SA who i would love to come live here in my home in England. I can get her a…
    25 June 2019
  • CazP
    Re: Applying for a British Passport
    I was born in the UK and have lived here all my life. Other than a1yr passport when I was eleven years old I have never held…
    23 June 2019
  • Nora
    Re: Marrying a UK Citizen
    I'm married to a Gambian man i live there with his family I'm back in England now and he wants to be able to provide change for his family…
    22 June 2019
  • ace4grrace
    Re: EU Citizens Working in the UK
    hi im british but my partner is from the czech republic we aren't married but we have two children who are also british. my…
    20 June 2019
  • Zeeshan
    Re: UK Policies on Illegal Immigrants
    Hi I have live in uk for almost 13 years I am overstayed on my student visa I just wanna know is there any new rules coming…
    19 June 2019
  • Deen
    Re: UK Immigration Rules: Visas and Overstayers
    My brother is overstaying in Uk almost a year now, how can I help him, I leave to remain in uk. He needs help
    17 June 2019
  • RosyAli
    Re: Extradition and the UK
    My partner was extradited from the UK to the USA but all charges were dropped. Would he now be able to return to the UK as he has a life…
    17 June 2019
  • Besh
    Re: Applying for UK Travel Documents
    Hello there. I’m a refugee with leave to remain. I have applied for a travel document last year on 14/06/2018. I got a…
    16 June 2019
  • PAT
    Re: Applying for UK Travel Documents
    Hi. I have refugee settlement and applied for renewal of my travel document in November 2018. Up until now I haven't recieved…
    16 June 2019
  • Zaman
    Re: Applying for UK Travel Documents
    Hi my name is akhtar I have applied for travel documents 25 days ago and I did not receive any confirmation letter or email…
    15 June 2019