Moving to the UK and becoming an international student can be quite daunting. With lots of research and information to absorb about visas and safety, we’ve decided to take some of your stress away by compiling everything you need to know into one easy to digest guide. Take a look below and learn all about becoming an international student in the UK.

UK Requirements for International Students

Before you book your flight, there are some requirements you need to make sure you’re up to date with before committing to studying internationally. Understanding the English language, what visa you should be applying for and your safety as an overseas student are all paramount to your application process as well as enjoying living as an international student.

English Language Certification

When applying to become an international student, you may need to take one of the IELTS tests to support your application to study abroad. The International Language Testing System (IELTS) is the world’s most popular English language test worldwide. The assessment includes listening, reading, writing and speaking. 

Don’t worry though, the British Council has free online courses and resources to help you prepare for your test. These tests are a completely normal process for any type of global migration. They will ensure your English is at a standard which means you’ll not only succeed in your course but will also feel more comfortable integrating into UK culture and your local community.

TOEIC and TOEFL English language proficiency tests are no longer valid for UK visas. For more information, contact the British Council.

Student Visas for the UK

How long you want to study for and which country you’re from will determine if you need to apply for a UK student visa. Check if you need a visa by visiting the government website. Once you have established whether or not you need a UK student visa, it’s then important to make sure you’re applying for the one that best suits your circumstances.

What are the different types of student visas for the UK?

Short-term student visa

A short-term study visa is for anyone who plans to do a short course of study in the UK or is doing a short period of research as part of a degree from another country. If this sounds like you, you should apply for a visa up to 3 months before you plan to arrive in the UK.

General student visa (Tier 4)

General student visas are issued to those who have been offered a place on a course in the UK. To apply for this visa, you must also be over the age of 16, be proficient in the English language and have enough money to support your stay in the UK. You can read more about the eligibility requirements here.

Child student visa

If you’re between the age of 4 and 17 and wish to study at an independent school in the UK, the Child student visa is what you’re going to want to apply for. You should check the government website for details surrounding eligibility requirements before you begin your application.

Is an appointment compulsory for UK student visas?

Appointments are necessary for many visas for the UK, including student visas. These appointments are an opportunity to prove your eligibility and also give details such as your biometrics. Biometric information includes having your photograph and fingerprints taken. Make sure to have all of your paperwork prepared before attending the appointment.

Can I stay in the UK before or after my student visa?

As each visa has different rules, it is important to check the requirements of the visa which is specific to you. Some student visas allow you to travel to the UK up to 1 month before your course starts whereas others only allow 1 week. Make sure you check your visa restrictions before booking your travel.

If you wish to stay in the UK after your student visa has expired, it is important to check whether you need a tourist visa, student visa or work permit. Overstaying your visa in the UK can have many serious consequences that could affect you, especially if you wanted to return to the UK in the future.

UK Student Visa Fees

Short-term study visa fees are £97 for 6 months and £186 for 11 months. General student visas (Tier 4) and child student visa fees are £348. There may also be other costs involved when applying for a UK student visa such as healthcare surcharges or if you wanted to pay for a faster decision on your application.

UK Safety for Overseas Students

The UK is a safe country to study, work and live in but there are always some extra steps you can take to ensure your security and overall wellbeing. Making sure you and your belongings are safe will help you enjoy your time in the UK.

  • When travelling, avoid unmarked taxi cars and keep your belongings with you at all times. If you see anything suspicious on your travels such as unattended luggage, make sure to report it to the transport staff.
  • Always lock your doors and windows when you leave your home or at night whilst your sleeping to prevent the risk of intruders. If you need to store a spare key, use a lockbox rather than stashing it under a doormat.
  • Create a buddy system with your friends where you can travel in groups or check that each other have gotten home safely. Leave notes for your housemates and let your family know where you’re travelling to and when you’re expected home. Encourage your friends to do the same.
  • When visiting large cities or at night, try to stick to well lit and busier streets. Avoid having your gadgets on show and don’t carry large amounts of cash. Stay vigilant of pickpocketers and plan your travel route before you leave your home.

The International Students Guide Summary

Moving to another country for your studies is an exciting time. Make sure you check which visa you need, what the requirements are and if you need to attend any appointments or tests. Being prepared with your application will take any unnecessary stress away and will better your chances of being accepted. Once you reach the UK, enjoy your time, stay safe and make sure you don’t overstay your visa.

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